Basic Carpentry Estimating

Here is some great advice on basic carpentry estimating. If you are having a hard time pricing a job than check this out. First I want to talk about estimating time per carpentry job. Once you have established how much to charge per hour you need to estimate on how much time each job will take. As mentioned earlier some carpenters don’t think in terms of hours when they are pricing jobs. This is a mistake because you risk working many hours for which you charge and thus don’t get paid.

Estimating your time can be challenging if you haven’t been in the trade very long. However if you have been in the carpentry business for a while you should have a pretty good feel for how long it takes to build a deck or lay a kitchen floor. If you have done these things before than you really know how long it takes. By discussion with other carpenters it will generally provide a good basis for estimating the time it would take to do a particular job.

Time And Material

Estimating how much paint to use is important

T&M is a far better pricing method; in some cases carpenters have rarely any time to use it. Time and Material is based on the customer trusting that you to tell him how much time you are spending and how much money you are paying for supplies and other costs of the work. You then charge the customer accordingly. The customer and the carpenter must both agree on the carpenter’s hourly rate, and the contractor must keep an honest record of his time. T&M billing in basic carpentry estimating is good for the contractor because it takes away the guesswork off estimates. Unfortunately most jobs are not priced on a time and material basis.

The final step in pricing a job is to include the price of all materials and all special costs related to a job. These cost can be easy to overlook, but forgetting them destroys the profit of the job. Variable expenses falls into several categories.

MATERIALS: These are the buildings materials that you use just for that job. This includes lumber, nails, tile, roofing, adhesives and so on. Even if you break out your own inventory of materials you need to find out how much they cost and charge them accordingly. Do not use the price from a previous job, since material prices may change unexpectedly.

Framed building on a very clean floor

Removal of Materials: Some jobs require the removal of walls cabinets or other materials Many jobs may require the disposal of certain materials at special sites, often with a dumping fee. Include all cost in the removal of the materials in the pricing of a job.

PERMITS: Include the cost of any permits for a particular carpentry job.

LABOR: Don’t forget to charge if you are going to use additional labor on the job. For example you may use a subcontractor, one of your employees, or simply labor assistants include those labor cost on the job. Remember if you are using your own employees then there insurance, workers comp, medicate and unemployment insurance are all included in the general overhead expenses.

ALLOWANCES: Sometimes there are expenses on a job that are impossible to estimate exactly. When you don’t know exactly what the amount comes to, the best way to protect yourself is to include an allowance your price. With an allowance, you tell the customer what you expect the cost will be but you also include a statement that if the cost goes up so will the price. Carpenters routinely use allowances for items like carpeting, waist disposal and additional labor.


Finally in pricing your work it is time to combine all of these items into a quote for your customer. Don't dont do this step casually; you will really be cheating yourself if you do. And pick a time when you are free from distraction, such as after dinner or Sunday afternoon. It's well worth the investment. Carpenters that compare their quotes carefully are far more profitable than those that don’t. You don’t get a second chance with a careless estimate, and there is no way to make a poorly priced job profitable.

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