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Old 10-02-2015, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Time estimate on painting job

I was hired to paint a 1,000 sq ft apartment recently, and although I'm not new to painting, it's been awhile since I've done any large jobs, and the first time I've done such a large job by myself (originally they agreed to a second person, but decided I couldn't have help after the first day). It took me a total of 9 days and 98 hours. Even though I worked as fast as I could, my clients are upset. They said that I masked ridiculously slow and the job took much longer than it should have. I'm wondering if anyone could give me any feedback about how long a job like this should have taken.

I started by filling and sanding around 50 holes in the walls, and then cleaned the walls which were covered in cobwebs, and laden with grease in the kitchen. I took all the doors off the hinges, as well as a few cabinet doors, and then had to move them from room to room as I sprayed. I figured a job like that would ultimately be quicker if I rented a paint sprayer, even though that would mean masking off everything except the areas to be painted. They wanted all the ceilings painted white, and the rest of the duplex painted three other colors. This meant spraying the ceilings, then masking off the ceilings (which took forever by myself, having to mask a few feet, then get down from the stool, move it with my one free hand and get back up on the stool). This also meant cleaning out the paint prayer between each color. The paint sprayer that I rented ended up malfuctioning as well which added a day of talking to the rental center and getting it working again, and then redoing the bathroom. I did get the price of the sprayer discounted 50% because of it. They knew before I started that it was my first time doing a job of that size and that I hadn't don't much painting lately and still hired me for $15/hour, which is much less than they would pay elsewhere. However, they still aren't willing to pay me for all the hours worked. I'm simply not sure what I should charge, but I think I should base it on how long it took. Any feedback is very appreciated!
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:56 PM   #2
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No matter how long it took you, at $15 an hour they are getting a hell of a deal.
Also, did you have a contract?

You don't say if you had any doors or trim to do, or closets. Personally, I would have just brushed and rolled everything rather than fooled around with a sprayer.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:57 PM   #3
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They don't sound like clients. They sound like an employer. If they were clients, then refer to your signed contract regarding the details. Since I'm pretty sure you have no contract, I'm not sure what to tell you. Welcome to the business side of painting.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:59 PM   #4
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Oh my!! Where to start, where to start? I'm at a loss, anyone, someone jump in here.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:28 AM   #5
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I'm with the other guy brush and roller would've saved you alot of time.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:32 AM   #6
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I will say 3 things.

1. I would not do that apartment for $1500.00 (which is what your hours add up to).

2. There are companies that would do it for less than $500.00 and probably be done in 1 day.

3. I can do a 1600 sf house, 1 color/sheen, in about 60 hours by myself if there is no major repairs- Normal nail holes, caulking some trim, flooring staying. No idea if that's fast or slow, but it's faster than what you just did.



Hope that helps.
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Old 10-03-2015, 02:02 AM   #7
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50 nails holes...lol that what, 15 minutes? An hour at best to remove outlet covers....

Dude, you are in way over your head. 9 days? Are you serious? If you can't do an apartment a day you are sunk.

Be glad you STILL have a job after your first unit.

We do section 8 housing, I WISH nail holes was my only worry haha.

Graffiti, crayons, candle wax, incense residue, dryer lint, grease, hairspray, the occasional body fluids, medical waste, nicotine damage of every degree, wallpaper applied with Elmer ' s glue, tack paper on walls, thumbtacks, staples, stickers, lipstick, need I go on?

And yet none, not a single one of the aforementioned items slows us down. You learn very quickly the power of fast drying primer.

You need to step back and take a long hard look if you really want to enter the production painting world.
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Old 10-03-2015, 02:40 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your feedback. Yes, there were two closets, and I had to mask all the trim, and everything else. I wasn't sure if rolling everything would've been quicker, especially with all the ceilings. I know I could've done minimal masking that way, and that would've saved me a big chunk of time. But because it's been years since I've painted more than a room or two, I honestly don't have the strength I used to have to roll a room super quickly. I figured spraying would've been easier because of that. I really wish I had asked for your advice in advance!
Hines Painting, 60 hours seems reasonable for a 1600 sq ft house...if I had been doing this awhile and was used to painting quickly. But I haven't painted more than a room in years, so I there was somewhat of a learning curve I had to deal with at first. I'm sure there are plenty of companies that would paint that apartment in one day for $500. They're probably the same companies that do most of the apartments I've lived in, the ones where they only paint half the wall and do an all together awful job. Am I right? Maybe not. But I'm guessing they come as a crew and not one person. I was going for a really nice paint job, despite being one person who isn't used to this kind of work.
And Driftweed, are you honestly saying that you, and you alone, painted an entire apartment, like not just slapping paint on the walls, but actually considering the details, your first day in the job? Is that really what I have to measure up to? I don't see how that's possible. It took me half a day just to take all the blinds, curtains, screws, nails and hooks off the walls and ceilings, fill all the holes, sand all the holes, reapply texture everywhere I sanded, wipe down the molding so the tape would stick, and knock all the cobwebs off the walls. I really don't know how I could've painted two+ coats (both bedrooms were a dark green color) on every wall after that.
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Old 10-03-2015, 03:28 AM   #9
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Default Time estimate on painting job

This sounds like they got a screaming deal. It doesn't sound like you are a painting contractor. Are you a family friend of theirs or something? Chalk it up to a learning experience. Without giving them a fixed bid there is always a chance for misunderstandings. But if you are not a licensed contractor (in my state) you're not supposed to be doing jobs for bids anyways. Actually my spidey senses are saying something seems a little strange.

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Old 10-03-2015, 04:22 AM   #10
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Tell your customer to pay you your damn money. You did a job for them at an agreed upon rate. It took you a while but sounds like you did a thorough job. Part of being a contractor is learning to not put up with BS from customers like this. I think if you took them to court you would win even though you had no contract. If the total number of hours to complete the job wasn't a set number not to exceed then they are at fault for not stating this from the outset. A contract is meant to protect you and the customer. If they did not sign one and still had you do the work and there are no problems with the completed work the courts will rule in your favor. It sounds to me like they were looking for a 300 dollar paint job. Stand your ground or sue their azz so they can also pay court cost as well.
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Old 10-03-2015, 04:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethany View Post
I was hired to paint a 1,000 sq ft apartment recently, and although I'm not new to painting, it's been awhile since I've done any large jobs, and the first time I've done such a large job by myself (originally they agreed to a second person, but decided I couldn't have help after the first day). It took me a total of 9 days and 98 hours. Even though I worked as fast as I could, my clients are upset. They said that I masked ridiculously slow and the job took much longer than it should have. I'm wondering if anyone could give me any feedback about how long a job like this should have taken.

I started by filling and sanding around 50 holes in the walls, and then cleaned the walls which were covered in cobwebs, and laden with grease in the kitchen. I took all the doors off the hinges, as well as a few cabinet doors, and then had to move them from room to room as I sprayed. I figured a job like that would ultimately be quicker if I rented a paint sprayer, even though that would mean masking off everything except the areas to be painted. They wanted all the ceilings painted white, and the rest of the duplex painted three other colors. This meant spraying the ceilings, then masking off the ceilings (which took forever by myself, having to mask a few feet, then get down from the stool, move it with my one free hand and get back up on the stool). This also meant cleaning out the paint prayer between each color. The paint sprayer that I rented ended up malfuctioning as well which added a day of talking to the rental center and getting it working again, and then redoing the bathroom. I did get the price of the sprayer discounted 50% because of it. They knew before I started that it was my first time doing a job of that size and that I hadn't don't much painting lately and still hired me for $15/hour, which is much less than they would pay elsewhere. However, they still aren't willing to pay me for all the hours worked. I'm simply not sure what I should charge, but I think I should base it on how long it took. Any feedback is very appreciated!
Among a lot of other things, this REALLY concerns me
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:09 AM   #12
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Another thing to consider: Net30 payment terms (the norm for for apartments).

Hope you didn't expect pay upon completion, because that's a reality check right there.

Most companies cut a check once a month, & there is usually a cutoff date for invoices.

Example: you painted that apartment 9\11 to 9/20. Cutoff date is 15th of each month. So now you have net30 which means your invoice isn't due until 10/20. But wait! You miss the cutoff date, so now you are not getting paid until November.

And this is why most small guys sink in apartment repaints.

I actually hold invoices and batch send to play this to my favor.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:12 AM   #13
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I used to do apartments by myself. These were fairly new but were often "trashed" section 8 stuff. I never knew people could live in such conditions as they left the place in.
Anyway, I could CLEAN and paint everything in about 2 days. Cleaning took more time.
Brush and roll.
I don't do apartments anymore.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:51 AM   #14
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This meant spraying the ceilings, then masking off the ceilings.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:59 AM   #15
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A little more practice and you'll figure it out. But honestly, if you can't muster the strength to use a roller, you might want to consider something less strenuous. And frankly, spraying is not all that easy on the body. Any time I'm shooting large areas for a day, my shoulder suffers a little for it.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:12 AM   #16
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I think we have to keep in mind that the OP said this was the largest project they've ever worked on, and haven't painted anything more than a single room in years.

They probably don't have the tools or familiarity with what they did have that we all do. All of this is going to slow a job like this down to a crawl.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:19 AM   #17
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It's a real risk asking a question like this in a forum for professionals. It would be like me going to HVAC Talk and asking why a customer was suspect of me after I simply discharged all of the R-22 into the atmosphere.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:38 AM   #18
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About a year ago, a customer of mine hired me to paint out all the walls in a house she owned and rented out. She also asked me to paint the ceiling in the roughly 800sq' finished basement.

She then hired out some handy guy to paint out the walls of the basement because he charged less and she wasn't as concerned about the job in the basement. This kind of bugged me, but whatever.

I was finished the upstairs stuff, packed up and gone before he finished the walls in the basement. He also ruined my ceiling down there. I had no idea why it was taking him so long until I saw the gear he was using. One bedsheet for drops, a dollar store brush, no extension poles and a fiver for a 'ladder'.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:07 PM   #19
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Bethany, kudos to you for laying it on the line honestly among the seasoned pros who were bound to hammer you.

Probably one mistake was trying to bring in spray gear on a smallish job that didn't really require it.

One thing I'm a little confused about was why you took the doors off. Did this job require painting all the trim and doors as well? If so, that would certainly account for some extra time.

It's really not clear how much work was involved here, so let's try to break it down and see if we can all at least get on the same page. Let's figure out the square footage of wall space you actually painted (saying the apt. was 1,000 sf in floor space is actually pretty meaningless without making some major assumptions.) Let's say a typical apt. of that size is: living/dining area 15x25, 2 baths at 5x8 each, 2 bedrooms at 11x14 each, kitchen at 8 x 10. The rest is made of of foyer area, hallway, closets, etc.

It's hard to know, but I'd estimate that the wall space is at least 2,000 sf. (For estimating purposes, I never subtract for things like doors and windows. It gets more complicated than that, but remember doors and windows actually slow you down because you have to cut around them.)

Now you add in the ceilings and obviously in a 1,000 sf apt. you're looking at about 1,000 sf of ceilings to paint. So now you're at 3,000 sf, let's just say.

Consider Hines' estimate. He says a paint company could go in there and paint the place in one day. That's true - typical painting companies can send in a crew of 4 or 5 painters easily. However your employer knew you were only one person.

Regarding Hines' estimate of $500 - no way. There is absolutely no way a painting company is going to charge only 17 cents per sf. Zero chance.

Your charge for the job was apparently $1470. This is very reasonable for quality work. However I'm sure that your employer was expecting a fantastic deal at $15/hr. He probably thought he was getting away with robbery if he thought you'd be done in 40 hours. (Which you should have been by the way, but then again you should also be charging about $30 an hour once you know what you're doing).

My guess is that a painting company would have gone in and done the job for around $2,000 (some more, obviously).

In addition to the trim, it's also not clear who provided the paint and other supplies, but since you worked at $15/hr I'm assuming the employer did. (I hope you didn't take tape, plastic etc out of your $15.) So it's hard to compare apples to apples.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:12 PM   #20
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Oh, and the idea that they can't pay you for all honest hours worked is nonsense. If you want work done by the job, you hire by the job. If you want work done by the hour, you hire by the hour and pay by the hour. If you did what you said you'd do, then the rest is their problem. It's not like you'll be burning any bridges by fighting this, since obviously you won't be working for them again. You'll be working on your skills and your estimating and your marketing of yourself. Even if you're nice and take less money, you're still not going to be getting recommendations from them.
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