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I think what a lot of painting contractors do, is imagine themselves running around from room to room in the drawing trying to guess what they'll encounter. It reminds me of the movie The Shining, where Jack Nicholson is running around in the hedge maze all crazed.
That was me about two months ago when for the first time in 18 years I got asked to look at a set of prints. lol. Then, a week later it happened again! Small time, one man show problems! lol.

Speaking of which, I just found out that old Jack just turned 84 about a week ago. I had no idea!
 

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Gotta learn to do it by the square footage. It's the most accurate way, and it's the only way to bid on larger jobs. Cost of materials is also much more accurate, since you just look at the data sheet for your paint and punch that figure into the spreadsheet. It will tell you the cost of paint, plus how many gallons you'll actually need to buy.
How do you bid by square footage, can you give an example of a room?

I can look at a room and know in a moment how long it will take to paint and how many gallons, and be fairly accurate.
Larger jobs are more difficult. If there's a better way, I'd appreciate hearing it. How does one bid square footage from a blueprint? Voodoo magic.
 

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How do you bid by square footage, can you give an example of a room?

I can look at a room and know in a moment how long it will take to paint and how many gallons, and be fairly accurate.
Larger jobs are more difficult. If there's a better way, I'd appreciate hearing it. How does one bid square footage from a blueprint? Voodoo magic.
In person, use a laser measuring thing and keep track of the doors/frames, etc on paper.

You use computer software for blueprints. Pdf files can be scaled, like a scale on a map. Most drawings have the scale at the bottom. If not, you can calibrate your software using a known dimension, like the width of a door, etc. Then you draw lines all over the pdf file and it will tell you the length of the walls, etc.

If you want to make life easy, you can use something like Bluebeam Revu. It even connects to Excel, so you don't have any manual entry = no typos. Very handy. Free alternative is Foxit PDF. It takes longer, but it's just as accurate as Revu.

You need to know your production rate, and the rate of your guys. Start timing yourself on a few jobs, and see how many sq/ft of wall space you do in an hour. Then you'll know what to charge per sq/ft. For your employees, assume they'll be half as productive as you. (I'm not even joking)
 

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In person, use a laser measuring thing and keep track of the doors/frames, etc on paper.

You use computer software for blueprints. Pdf files can be scaled, like a scale on a map. Most drawings have the scale at the bottom. If not, you can calibrate your software using a known dimension, like the width of a door, etc. Then you draw lines all over the pdf file and it will tell you the length of the walls, etc.

If you want to make life easy, you can use something like Bluebeam Revu. It even connects to Excel, so you don't have any manual entry = no typos. Very handy. Free alternative is Foxit PDF. It takes longer, but it's just as accurate as Revu.

You need to know your production rate, and the rate of your guys. Start timing yourself on a few jobs, and see how many sq/ft of wall space you do in an hour. Then you'll know what to charge per sq/ft. For your employees, assume they'll be half as productive as you. (I'm not even joking)
I am comfortable with production rate (knowing how long it takes), and can figure out square footage easily enough (either in person or with a blueprint)...

The part that I am unfamiliar with, is how do you create prices with square footage based on an hourly rate? If room is 100 square feet for example?

I typically look at a room, know how long it will take to paint and how many gallons, so I can estimate accordingly.
Sq. footage is an unfamiliar method.
 

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Do the math. If it takes you 1 hour to paint 100sq/ft of wall space, and you charge $50 per hour.... That's 50 cents per square foot, per coat of paint. Just for labour. So, say $1.50 per foot, just for labour. Add materials on top of that, which you can work out the cost of depending on your paint prices.

These numbers are fictional, by the way. If you're only doing 100sq/ft per hour, you should find a new hobby.
 

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Do the math. If it takes you 1 hour to paint 100sq/ft of wall space, and you charge $50 per hour.... That's 50 cents per square foot, per coat of paint. Just for labour. So, say $1.50 per foot, just for labour. Add materials on top of that, which you can work out the cost of depending on your paint prices.

These numbers are fictional, by the way. If you're only doing 100sq/ft per hour, you should find a new hobby.
Thank you for taking time to explain.

Would like to push the question a bit. Makes sense, but sounds like a lot of time is spent working the numbers. I could see the benefit for new construction where there are large spaces and empty rooms, but wondering how that would work for residential re-paints when painting 3 or 4 rooms in a house?


Cant help but thinking that it would be easier to look at a job and say: that will take a week and a half.
My daily rate is x, making the cost: 8 times x.
 

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Maybe, but you still need to know how to do it the other way. Even if you only do residential, you'll come across blueprints. How many basement Reno's or house additions do you come across where they have plans drawn up? I've already done two this year, like that, where all I was given were drawings before construction had even started.

Most home owners are going to shop around, not just take the first quote they're given. Gotta at least be in the ballpark.
 

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The first thing that needs to be established is that we are talking about square footage in terms of actual ceiling and walls, or square footage in terms of floor area?

Either method, a baseline configuration for pricing can be established based on prep and coating systems, production, materials, and overhead with the option to add costs for the dreaded variables.
 

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In other words, I paint a 12'W X 20'L X 8'H room with so many windows, doors, and trim, record everything I did to get that room painted (based on it's condition) and that becomes my baseline for square footage (floor area) for rooms of that size in similar condition.

Where it becomes tricky for floor area pricing, is if you are only painting a partial room. In that case, surface area square footing would be more appropriate in my opinion.

Either way, this estimating process is more conducive to online estimating.
 

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Don't go by floor area square footage. Ever.

If someone has an open concept floor plan, great, but the next guy might have a bunch of tiny rooms. Suddenly, you have no idea how to bid it. It's always by wall area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
I like to use the floor sq ft, and for walls and ceilings and exteriors i have pretty accurate numbers that include materials etc. Makes bidding a bit simpler. The sq ft floor works ok for trim too but im going to switch to linear ft when i get around to it.
 

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Don't go by floor area square footage. Ever.

If someone has an open concept floor plan, great, but the next guy might have a bunch of tiny rooms. Suddenly, you have no idea how to bid it. It's always by wall area.
Back in the early 80's my former boss estimated by the floor square foot. His numbers back then were around 0.68 cents a square foot (floor area). So, a room that was 12' X 12' X 8' H was about $98.00 to paint. Not including the added costs for variables. It breaks down to something like this (80's pricing):

1. 2 gallons of paint- $16.00
2. 3 hrs. labor- $24.00 @ $8.00/hr.
3. Owners cut- $58.00 for the one room
 

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Back in the early 80's my former boss estimated by the floor square foot. His numbers back then were around 0.68 cents a square foot (floor area). So, a room that was 12' X 12' X 8' H was about $98.00 to paint. Not including the added costs for variables. It breaks down to something like this (80's pricing):

1. 2 gallons of paint- $16.00
2. 3 hrs. labor- $24.00 @ $8.00/hr.
3. Owners cut- $58.00 for the one room
$8/hr?
That was pretty good money back then.

Good info.
 

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I typically try to stick pretty close to the price I give. If I think for a moment there's a chance that won't be able to happen, I make sure that's fully communicated.
 

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The sq.ft. thing only works for bigger jobs in my opinion, where it evens out over the course of a bigger project. I find it's good to have an approx. sq.ft price to bounce your numbers off of. I'm a visual guy personally, especially on repaints. Working with blueprints however, sq.ft pricing is the only thing possible really plus contingencies.
I always get emails from these companies asking me to bid on a new store they're building in the mall. They send me 25 pages of blueprints. I'm like nope, not interested. If I can't see it, it doesn't make sense to me. That being said, I don't think @fromthenorthwest was asking "how" to bid. He was asking whether your bids were firm or not..
 

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I do an estimate ,write a proposal and that is the final number unless there is a change order or extra. Never asked for more money, it's on me if I botch a bid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Does
I do an estimate ,write a proposal and that is the final number unless there is a change order or extra. Never asked for more money, it's on me if I botch a bid.
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I prefer working on a t+m basis (w a given estimate) when possible. My customers are usually ok with it, they're usually referral jobs where they have seen my work and trust me to be fair. At the end of the day they get what they pay for and I get what I worked for. I understand this isn't plausible for all jobs/ companies. I'm also a small 2-3 person company, so I'm on site almost all the time and get to know customers well.

I don't ask for more money often, it's usually on smaller or trickier jobs out of the ordinary. Id say 10-15% of my jobs. If I happen to be quite a way off from what I estimated I'll eat some of the money too.
 

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The sq.ft. thing only works for bigger jobs in my opinion, where it evens out over the course of a bigger project. I find it's good to have an approx. sq.ft price to bounce your numbers off of. I'm a visual guy personally, especially on repaints. Working with blueprints however, sq.ft pricing is the only thing possible really plus contingencies.
I always get emails from these companies asking me to bid on a new store they're building in the mall. They send me 25 pages of blueprints. I'm like nope, not interested. If I can't see it, it doesn't make sense to me. That being said, I don't think @fromthenorthwest was asking "how" to bid. He was asking whether your bids were firm or not..
Lol! Nope.
 
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