I have just started a painting business and would like your help in determining how to estimate a job, is there a formula?
Unfortunately there isn't a formula that works with all jobs. This is what I do, maybe it will help.
I add up all the materials that are needed. This list includes anything from sandpaper to the paint and everything between. Now add the cost of gas to and from the job. This total is what it will cost you to paint this house with out adding your time or equipment. These materials, including the gas, are used for this job and this job only. They can't be transferred to another job.
Now that you have this total you need to figure the amount of time it will take to paint this house. Only experience can teach you this lesson. Personally I don't figure in hours, I use days.
How much do you charge per day? The answer depends on your areas cost of living, how hungry you are and the type of customers you serve. You can't over price yourself, but you need to make a living. Try to find out what others are charging in your area, the more the better. Then take an average and ask yourself if you can do this job for this amount. Try to be in the middle, not the cheapest.
For New Construction
New construction is bid using a different approach. These jobs are figured by the square foot on the floor or on the wall depending on the job.
You still need to figure out materials costs and try to figure the cost of labor as well. Compare this cost analysis to your total cost per square foot. How much you charge per square foot depends on your area and the type of job.
If the two figures are dramatically different then go over the prints again and try to find out why. Pay attention to the details.
Now that I explained some of the basics, I recommend you open an account at your favorite local paint store. Talk to your sales rep about the average bids for different jobs in your area. He/She will have a good idea of how much some jobs are going for, especially new construction.
Good starting point
I've been doing this since 92, and am second generation. For those starting out, the first thing I recommend is get GOOD training on proper painting practices.
To work out a per sq ft price, you'll need to know approx how much you can paint in an hour. Now figure out the wage you'd like to get paid. Add the cost of the paint you use in that hour.
eg: 200 sq/hr
$20 material used
=$50 per hour / 200 sq = 0.25 per sq ft.
Now keep in mind this is only basic material & labor. For your business to survive, you'll need to calculate your annual overhead, and factor that in as well. Overhead can include vehicle costs (fuel, maintenance,leasing), phone costs, advertising costs, tools & supplies, as well as a profit margin to help your company grow.
Take that number and work it down to a per hour price (how many hours worked per year) add it to the above $50, then divide by your sq/hr to get a final price per sq.ft.
1500 hours worked on site/year
$59.60 per hr / 200 sq = $0.30 per sq ft. Material & Labor
Hope this helps someone a bit.
Low bidders are scum
Low bid guys will always take some jobs from the REAL painters out there. If you provide quality painting bid what you are supposed to, don't go work for free. Low bidders hurt the profession but in the end do you want a customer who is after the cheapest work anyways? All your doing by working with them is sacrificing your own worth as a painter.
Amazed at the differences!
I think if you are a big contractor, doing big jobs in large markets, it's much easier estimating as long as you leave a 10-20% cushion.
For small painting companies in small markets, of which category I fall into. I have noticed there is usually no rhyme or reason to estimating. Sometimes you can charge flat rates and always be working. By flat rates I mean per sq ft or hourly, or daily rates. Other times you have to charge what the customer is willing to pay.
You need to know much your willing to do the job for, and then make sure you eliminate as much of the obstacles as possible in figuring out the exact time it may take. Another key I have found is write down everything you are going to do, on the bid, so the customer is not in the dark.
Thanks for all the good suggestions hope these are as well.
I charge $500 labor for me and $200 per day for my helper. Then I ad the materials and paint. We paint exteriors and interiors for home owners. Most jobs take 2–3 days to complete. We have work every day.