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I need some help getting through the estimating process more quickly. It is very easy for me to spend 2 hours plus on a smaller project and a full day or two on architectural plans for a whole house of residential cabinetry. If I get several "Nos" in a row, it really stings since estimating doesn't pay. What do you guys do to get through the process more quickly and yet with a good degree of accuracy so that you don't end up angering folks when the final amount is quite a bit more because of something you missed? I have tried giving ranges but it hasn't been well received since it is not more concrete. Some of this stuff is so custom it comes down to gut feeling and educated guess. It would be nice to have some sort of a form with everything we do itemized, but in the realm of custom that is just not possible. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated - thanks!
Are you estimating or quoting?
Big difference. If you are quoting you have passed the estimating process and are in the running for the job.
Estimates look like this. Painted kitchen to spec, 15K - 17.5K and then a few specs on hardware, paint and construction.
Still takes time. Come up with a formula.
For cabinets I use a per inch in width, one for uppers and one for lowers and then add components to it. Doors cost so much, drawers cost so much, lazy sues etc.
Install of trim can be difficult to estimate. Especially high end because you never know what the last guy left you. Put in stipulations of what you expect and if it doesn't meet them document and charge extra. They'll likely back charge someone.
Thanks, Leo, for your response! I think I may be handling estimates too much like a quote. Maybe what I need to do is review historically what our projects generically look like and what the costs are based on the size of the room. Then, I could create an excel sheet with those columns and average historical square foot pricing and simply apply it to the current project that best matches one of the columns on the sheet (I'm just thinking out loud). If I got really efficient with that, I could introduce some generic numbers on the first meeting - which might weed out the "tire kickers" and relax the true client because now it's out there. Do any of you talk money on the first meeting? Another interesting concept is charging for estimates. I just learned that a couple of my contractors are doing that very thing. Have any of you tried that?
It would also be quicker if the clients had some sort of a budget to tell you. I think they are afraid to tell you a number because they figure you'll use it all up.
In my case the budget rarely is enough to get me to do the job.
Most of the time they don't have a budget and figure you'll tell them how much it'll cost. Then of course they freak when you give them the bells and whistles they asked for.
Anything that takes a day to quote you would want to be pretty confident you would get it. Anything that takes two days has enough money in the job to justify you charging for a quote. If they won't even consider paying for it maybe a good "tell" they are going to be difficult.
Also, not sure how you are quoting but if your on a spreadsheet you could probably look at the build of your spreadsheet and simplify it to speed up the process. Every couple years I rebuild mine and end up with a pricing system no less accurate but quicker and more intuitive.
With the gut feeling stuff as long as your materials are covered and you've loaded up the labor hours should be fine, better to be safe then sorry.