Estimation: How does it work?

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In this section I want to educate you on the estimation process. It is important that you know that cheap is not always good. We are always looking to save where we can but if you are more concern about getting a quality job you need to know how a paint contractor arrive at his price.

You estimate a paint job by deciding what kind of estimate you want. The least accurate estimate is a wild guess; the next method is not quite as inaccurate but still is quite inaccurate, this is the square foot method. This method seems accurate because it uses some mathematics in the way of a simple formula. Square footage times some variable such as square footage x $2.50 per square foot. This is still a very inaccurate method because it doesn't allow for any variations. And there are plenty of variations between houses; all home painting estimates cannot be reduced to a square foot equation.

The most accurate therefore the best method of estimating a job is the detailed "take off" estimate. This estimate counts individual items and calculates the price of a paint project based on individual line items. This method attempts to put exact prices on individual items based on historic job costs from the company's records.

So we take the time it takes to paint an item and multiplies this time by the hourly rate that the company has calculated for itself; this is not the "going rate" or some arbitrary rate decided on by a builder, a paint store clerk or your Aunt Martha. This hourly rate is calculated on an individual basis from the company's fixed overhead and variable overhead (job costs). This is the only true method of estimating which tells a company what they need to charge in order to make money and stay in business.

Construction service businesses have one of the highest rates of failure in this country and the single biggest reason why construction companies fail is not making enough money. Many construction service companies like a painting company confuse having lots of work with being successful. In other words, these companies have plenty of work but are not making enough money to stay in business.

Why are they not making enough money?

They either don't estimate the paint job correctly, or they lower their price to get the job.

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