Painting Estimator – How To Do Accurate, Profitable, Estimates

Painting Estimator

Most people think that painting estimator either means a job description or a piece of software. Mine is more of a job description because I own my own painting service and I do my own estimating.

It used to be that every once in a while I would wind up “eating a job” because of unforeseen problems. Then I discovered a way to accurately bid my painting jobs every time. I now use a 3-way system on big jobs to triple-check my work for accuracy and for more complicated jobs.

Using this system you can also be accurate if you have employees. And when you have workers to be responsible for there is no room for error unless you want to give them your paycheck.

How To Bid Painting Jobs - 6 Important Things To Consider:

Estimating or bidding house painting jobs is something that grows on you over time. I can go into any house and go from room to room and tell you by eye exactly how much paint you will need to do the ceilings, walls and woodwork.

I can even tell you just about how long it will take to paint each room in general. But estimating many times goes a lot deeper than just eyeballing a few simple rooms. So here are 6 points to help you when figuring your bids or estimates.

1.) Know Your Target Market

When getting prepared to do a painting estimate you first need to know your target market or markets. Are you going to be painting in middle-class neighborhoods or are you going for the high-end glitzy neighborhoods? Or are you going after commercial or industrial accounts?

Now you can you gauge how high you are going to set your bid rates. You can have high-end rates for larger homes, or for commercial or industrial painting, and mid prices for the rest.

If you are estimating painting jobs for big business you can and should aim competitively high without worrying about much competition as you would in residential painting.

Plus larger commercial customers have deep pockets. Also to consider, if you are tackling those types of accounts you will need extra painters anyway so you definitely need to aim high in your bidding to cover their wages and benefits.

2.) Fool-Proof System

You need an accurate estimating method that works perfectly every time without fail. Whether inside or outside. You can stand and stare at a project all day and try to “guesstimate” exactly how long it will take you to paint something or you can use an accurate method for bidding paint jobs and walk away smiling and not wondering if you might bite the bullet on that one.

3.) Allowances

You need a painting estimator system that allows for fuel, travel time and even giving Uncle Sam his cut. If you are going to be driving long miles you definitely want to account for fuel and travel time, even overnight expenses if you get that radical in your painting business. Again, if you have employees you will need to account for their wages and benefits in your bids also.

4.) Hidden Expenses

You need to be aware of hidden expenses or projects that add extra time and extra materials to a job. Things like hard to cover colors, excessive prep time, high-work, down time due to outside sources that are common in new construction, etc.

5.) Cost of Materials

You need to know how much paint and materials you will be using. (Note: A good estimating system will automatically include all your paints and materials.)

6.) Flexible Methods

Your painting estimator system should have several ways of figuring your bids. Just like a set of golf clubs, some times you need a different driver to make it on to the next green. Different jobs require different painting estimating techniques.

For example: painting ceilings, walls and woodwork estimating can change if you have excessive woodwork like walk-in closets with tons of shelving, rooms with high walls, etc.

The same goes for exterior work in residential painting. Are the surfaces smooth and clean or is there stucco or shingles that require extra time and materials?

Exterior surfaces can vary greatly and throw your estimate off if not careful. When you have an easy system in place you can build up an estimate to meet the type of project or surfaces you are facing.

Many times on larger estimates, I will cross-check my painting bid from different angles by using two different painting estimator techniques just to make sure I have it all together and did not leave anything out of the big picture.

I have seen painters underbid a paint job by as much as 75% and use the wrong paint on top of that and there was 3 or 4 of them doing the work. Talk about a nightmare!

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