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Old 05-14-2019, 08:55 PM   #1
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Default Underbid by my competitor

Just need to vent

I spent hours on an estimate for a new construction 4500 Sq ft house. Walls, trim, doors, and all. Tons of windows in an open atrium, just lots of work.

I know i spent more time on this than I should have but I really wanted to give an accurate bid instead of throwing a number out there. So after adding up the dimensions of every room and linear feet for trim, dividing it out for spread rates and production rates I came to a number of almost $20k.

Just to make sure that number wasn't outrageous for the amount of work required, I went back and pulled old invoices for new construction jobs I did years ago to compare before sending it.

I sent it off and got a quick reply saying he got 2 other bids in the $6500 rage! I'm not unhappy about losing the job as much as I'm frustrated about all the time wasted coming up with a reasonable bid just to be so grossly under bid.

Part of the job, I know. Can anyone relate?

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Old 05-14-2019, 10:08 PM   #2
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Was the job scope the same? A 300% bid discrepancy seems too wide of a range to be apples to apples.
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:37 PM   #3
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A new construction job for $1.44/ sq. ft.????? Those are two crazy bids.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:40 AM   #4
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Some companies enjoy racing each other to the bottom. Not that it helps you now, or will even make you feel better, but chances are both will be gone by this time next year.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:04 AM   #5
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Its probably not that outrageous if the bidders were only doing tract type specs. One coat of heavy body flat on walls and ceilings, self priming. A decent enamel on the doors, trim, and wet areas. Any thing else would be an option change order. Its cheap, but can be done. Not my gig but, they are not doing custom work.
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:59 AM   #6
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Being that it's new construction I wouldn't kick yourself over it. I just got done finishing one that was 1300sqft 1 bed for $12,800. 10ft ceilings, custom colors, crown throughout, window sash, stained doors.

The only reason why I did it and got the job is because I worked directly for the home owner and have done lots of work for them in their primary house. Had I bid for the GC against guys that only paint NC I would have been at least 300% higher too.

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Old 05-15-2019, 11:11 AM   #7
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Nothing screams "I'm a cheap a-hole" like a 5hitty paint job on a brand new 4500sqft house! All that money building that house...unbelievable. Like putting Goodyears on a Bentley. Just wish them good luck (they'll need it) and move on to the next one. There are plenty of people out there who don't want their brand new house to look like 5hit. You just gotta keep it up until you find them. Not much you can do to fix cheap skates.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:36 PM   #8
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Have never done new construction myself (except some additions) but I’ve often heard that by the time contractors reach the point of painting, their budget is gone and so the cheapest job they can find will win out. But of course, there are those who will always go cheap regardless.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:14 PM   #9
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I had similar thing happen to me on new construction house. I measured one night and the next night I was working on the bid. I had my Paint and Materials estimated at $2500 and was working on the Labor portion of the bid when the Homeowner called asking for a number. I just told him what numbers I had at that time. He laugh at me and said he got a price from one of the tapers saying he would do it for $2600 with materials. I figured the taper is either stealing paint from his employer or he is just spraying everything with cheap flat with no primer. You can't compete with people doing that.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:26 PM   #10
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This is one of those cases where maybe a premium painting company is competing within a general painting, or even an economy painting company field. And there's no question that the $6,500.00 job will be adequate enough to keep things moving.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:44 PM   #11
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It wasn't a waste a time at all. If anything, you've sharpened your skills and furthered your knowledge with your production rates and costs associated with completing certain tasks. If your price was remotely similar to others and you didn't get the work, I'd say you should focus on communicating the value of your service and what sets you apart from your competitors. Since your price, (seemingly very reasonable btw), was nowhere near the other 2 bids, I'd say the GC is probably not anyone you'd want to work with anyways. He's either bluffing about already receiving way lower bids in an attempt to get you to lower your quote, or he's found desperate, unqualified, and/or uniformed painters who don't truly understand the cost of operating a legit business.

These are the types of GC's who are always looking for a new painter on every job. Why do you think that is?
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stelzerpaintinginc. View Post
It wasn't a waste a time at all. If anything, you've sharpened your skills and furthered your knowledge with your production rates and costs associated with completing certain tasks. If your price was remotely similar to others and you didn't get the work, I'd say you should focus on communicating the value of your service and what sets you apart from your competitors. Since your price, (seemingly very reasonable btw), was nowhere near the other 2 bids, I'd say the GC is probably not anyone you'd want to work with anyways. He's either bluffing about already receiving way lower bids in an attempt to get you to lower your quote, or he's found desperate, unqualified, and/or uniformed painters who don't truly understand the cost of operating a legit business.

These are the types of GC's who are always looking for a new painter on every job. Why do you think that is?
And they only use the cheapest paint they can buy too!
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskey View Post
I had similar thing happen to me on new construction house. I measured one night and the next night I was working on the bid. I had my Paint and Materials estimated at $2500 and was working on the Labor portion of the bid when the Homeowner called asking for a number. I just told him what numbers I had at that time. He laugh at me and said he got a price from one of the tapers saying he would do it for $2600 with materials. I figured the taper is either stealing paint from his employer or he is just spraying everything with cheap flat with no primer. You can't compete with people doing that.
I think you can compete if your business model is similar. And it's amazing just how much work the economy painter will get. Mainly because the general consumer consensus places less value on painting than they do other trades. I believe gardeners are valued higher than painters. Probably because gardening requires continuous maintenance.

Ultimately, painting contractors who model and advertise themselves as premium painting companies, and who follow the best of painting practices, will continue to find themselves disappointed with the bidding results when pitted against companies whose model supports an economical and adequate painting product. Frankly, this is what the primer/finish products are marketed towards. And homeowners aren't the wiser.

Paranoia is the scourge of the conscientious painter.

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Old 05-15-2019, 07:53 PM   #14
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The title suggests that the OP was under cut by their competitor. I'm not sure they were categorically competitors.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:20 PM   #15
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No doubt I don't fit the economy painting model. I'm way too slow and OCD for production painting.

You all make excellent points. I feel so much better. And I agree it wasn't a waste of time. Every time I do large bids like that, I get better.

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Old 05-15-2019, 10:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PACman View Post
Like putting Goodyears on a Bentley.
What sort of tires would be preferable on a Bentley? I've never had any troubles with Goodyear tires. Michelin, Firestone, Cooper, Pirelli, Continental?

They seem to price out the same (or thereabouts). I'll say that I don't have a Bentley, but that should be inferred from the fact that I'm in the painting business.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:59 AM   #17
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I hate losing bids too, but Iíd rather let someone else work for peanuts. You should ask the GC is you could see the other guys bids.

Companies that specialize in New Construction can blow my production rates out of the water. They also have much larger crews that are probably paid substantially less than I am. Of course they arenít achieving the same quality level.

Iíve also seen quite a few spec homes where all the walls and ceilings are the same product and color. If all theyíre doing is spraying without backrolling there is a massive cost difference compared to applying different wall and ceiling products and backrolling everything. That easily adds 2x or 3x the amount of labor to the project.






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Old 05-16-2019, 03:04 PM   #18
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On the bright side, they've got your number for when the winning bidder realizes he's so deep in the hole of the weeds that he bails!

A buddy of mine was asked to bid by another friend on yet another friend's house. Despite a friend's recommendation, someone else beat his price by $100. Just a hundred bucks. Strangers. But, they bailed at first draw leaving a mess and the HO called my bud to fix everything. He told them exactly where to go to find someone to finish the job.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:42 PM   #19
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Quote:
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On the bright side, they've got your number for when the winning bidder realizes he's so deep in the hole of the weeds that he bails!



A buddy of mine was asked to bid by another friend on yet another friend's house. Despite a friend's recommendation, someone else beat his price by $100. Just a hundred bucks. Strangers. But, they bailed at first draw leaving a mess and the HO called my bud to fix everything. He told them exactly where to go to find someone to finish the job.
I can predict exactly what will happen. This painter probably shot off a number without really studying the specs. As soon as he starts he's going to either ask for more money, or like you said, bail to cut his losses. Then I'll get a call. It's happened before. We'll see.

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Old 05-16-2019, 11:51 PM   #20
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Or they just ask for more money because the specs in their bid didnít match the specs on the plans


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