Painting Estimating – Covering all the Bases with One Coat

Painting contractors are faced with unique challenges when estimating a job. Because of the variances in square footage, quality of painting supplies, amount of detail work required, labor costs and other extenuating factors, it can often be difficult to arrive at an accurate cost relative to a project.

When a contractor is required to do a painting estimate the one major factor that has a key effect on what a job will cost is labor. Normally the highest cost item, labor- on either a commercial or residential job – is very difficult to calculate. Because this is an expense that relies on quality and quantity of production and because these attributes are usually carried out by someone other than the contractor, estimating the time it takes to perform a painting job is hard to predict.

In addition the actual time it takes to paint a particular area, the painting contractor must also evaluate such non-productive variables such as set-up/clean-up times, coffee breaks, travel and/or accommodation expenses, rental equipment etc. when presenting a painting estimate.

Overhead and material, although defining aspects of painting estimating, are generally standard profit determining expenses. All competent contractors can generally estimate what typical overhead costs will be and unless a client specifically requests a high performance coating, material costs are usually pretty straightforward.

A contractor has to rely on accuracy and a proven systematic approach when presenting a painting estimation. In order to evaluate the profit margin on any job a painting estimation must consist of costs relative to job set up, manpower allocation and material requirements for any given job while taking into consideration order changes and other extras that have an impact on cost control.

Regular painting estimating factors that pre-determine the outcome of any job can usually be accomplished by adhering to the following steps:

a. Acquire familiarization of the proposed job by a careful review of the specifications while paying particular attention to all sections where painting is required.

b. Break the job down in sections – ceiling, walls, interior and exterior trim and any millwork items.

In a perfect world any painting estimation would be complete based on the above formula, however as any contractor knows there are always other variables that have to be reflected in any painting estimating contract. Items that include but are not limited to things such as liquidated damages (monetary penalty for a job that is not completed on time), occupancy rights (when owner has permission to occupy certain areas of the building being painted) and Insurance requirements must also be factored in when estimating a job.

In order to truly evaluate the costs of any job a painting estimation must also encompass provisions like liability, indemnification and other clauses that may be pertinent to securing a particular job.

In order to be competitive and make money, the painting contractor must be fully conversant in all these variables when presenting a painting estimation.

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