need help estimating some tile work

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by meselffff, May 7, 2013.

  1. meselffff

    meselffff New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Hello.

    A customer who I have worked for in the past has requested an estimate for some tile work. I have done some tub surrounds and floors in the past but not enough to develop a feel for working up a fair estimate because I really don't know how may hours it took me in the past due to mixing it with other work on the projects I was working on. I try to search up this info but the forums I locate and especially the responses don't do a good job of specifying just what is included in the times for the different scenarios that they are talking about, not to mention that some of the times discussed seem unrealistically low. For any bid, I have to allow a little extra for time lost to murphy's law.

    This is all new construction but they installed drywall to the tub and shower surrounds so I'm tearing out to the studs and replacing with cement board as specified by the customer. Time I might spend picking up materials and such I can estimate separately.

    Scenario 1
    An ordinary three sided tub surround about 6 feet high above the top of the tub. This is a backerboard and mortar job, not a mastic adhesive job. The tub is properly located up against the studs this time. I need to:
    a] install a tub protector of cardboard & packing tape .
    b] tear out the existing drywall.
    c] install additional bracing lumber where needed between the studs.
    d] install a moisture barrier to the studs.
    e] install cement board.
    f] tape the seams with thinset.
    g] tape & finish the joint between the cement board and drywall with setting type joint compound.
    h] install 8" square tile using thinset and leveling plugs, cutting tile as needed.
    i] grout.
    j] caulk the tile edge to the drywall with the caulk that matches the grout (customer's preferance).
    k] remove the tub protector & clean up.
    How many realistic hours might that take, not for someone who does only tile tub surrounds every day, but for someone who has done several on an occasional basis over the past years?

    Scenario 2
    How much additional time would be added if I have to install a recessed prefab tile-ready square insert for soap and shampoo into the backer board and tile into it?

    Scenario 3
    How much additional time if I have to lay out and install a horizontal contrasting trim stripe into the tile of different tile width and height?

    Scenario 4
    Same as Scenario 1 but it's a three sided stall shower with a plastic pan that does not get tile.

    Scenario 5
    There are three bathrooms and two foyers that get flooring tile. Again, the floors are a mortar and backerboard job. I'll be screwing down 1/4" cement board over plywood with mortar underneath and installing the tile with thinset.
    Is there a square foot cost for installing backerboard and tile to floors with thinset that I can apply to work up an estimate, considering that these are smaller irregular shaped rooms with closets?

    Scenario 6
    How much might I add to the flooring in these bathrooms rooms if they want a boarder pattern stripe spaced in a few inches from the wall? These are not just simple rectangular rooms. Some have at least one rectangular inset or outset on the floor.

    Again, I have done this before, I am not a rapid tiler who just does tile everyday and I work at a careful steady pace. And they want the job priced, I think more so they know what they are getting into, not so much because they are shopping everybody for the lowest bid.

    Thank you if you can share any experience with this.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  2. DougB

    DougB Member

    I'm a professional software developer (who's done several kitchens / baths). I've estimated a lot of projects. IMO a project is a project - whatever the trade. What pleases customer's the most is being on time, and getting what they want.

    From what you are asking, I think the project is too large for your current experience. Take scenario #5 - three bedrooms & two foyers - that's a two man job. That means your going to be paying someone - another item - you have insurance? - you going to give them a 1099?

    I think you have too much liability: The shower leaking, the floor tile cracking, delivering on time, etc.

    Next time keep a log of your tile jobs.
  3. meselffff

    meselffff New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Software developer,

    I'm going to try to keep this polite. But since I could really use some help from somebody with experience pricing out tile work I need to try to move this thread back on topic. So may I please add in the following points for clarity:
    1] I already know how to show up on time.
    2] I have handled larger projects than this on an hourly basis, and I have done everything asked of me here previously with top notch results. It's neither too big, nor outside of my scope. I know what I'm doing. The only thing that lies outside my scope is bidding the job, or bidding any job for that matter because I normally work by the hour.
    3] The reason they want me to do the job instead of a tile specialist is because of problems I had to fix for them from work done by a specific full time tiler in my area and their experience with my tile work and work ethic on another property for them.
    4] I am the guy who fixes water damaged floors and walls around tubs and know I what causes it. I know the importance of rigid walls and floors, moisture barriers, and level tubs, etc. and I how to prevent water damage as well as anybody.
    5] I do have insurance but I mostly just carry it for the higher paying facilities management companies that I work for occasionally and require it. My local customers are honest people. If they want a 1099 they can ask for it. But insurance and tax forms are way off topic here right?
    6] My willingness to price a job for this customer is a unique anomaly, perhaps more of a favor from me because they indicated that they are running out of money, but people have good reason to trust me and I can keep a full schedule working everything by the hour.
    7] I have done enough tile work to know that there is nothing here that requires a helper unless I just want some company. I am familiar with the customer's time frame and schedule.

    I know this all comes to somewhere between 90 and 180 hours of work and am hoping to not side track the thread too much because I really could use some help from people in the tile trade who might be able to help me determine how many hours might be involved here. While bidding jobs is not normally my style, I would like to help them out and give them a price due to their financial situation but don't want to pad it unnecessarily high to deal with so much of my uncertainty about working time. If they were not nice people, I would not be bothering to try and accommodate them with a bid at all. I normally work hourly or work elsewhere.

    Thank you for your response on this thread, DougB.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  4. meselffff

    meselffff New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I don't know if this is ok or not, but I am going to try to transfer this over to the remodeling forum. If that's not ok, please delete this one for me.
  5. DougB

    DougB Member

    OK - you usually work time and materials. That's good work if you can get it that way.

    If you are confident on the 180 hrs - then I would say: I'll charge $$xx/hr not to exceed 180 hrs. But you need to have a really specific statement of work - progress payments by the # of hrs worked - you will need to keep records - and bill them weekly - and get paid within the next week. For a fixed price don't let them get ahead of you, and start changing the 'spec'.

    Any changes, price out the hours, and have them sign off.

    Heed this advice from a 'blood sucking, professional, mercenary, programmer."
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You are asking an open ended question, because the time I, or someone else, would take is probably vastly different than the time you would spend on it. In fact, only someone who wants to lose money on a job would price his work the same as someone else. Figure out how much the materials would cost, add your markup, then decide how much you think your time is worth, then add them together add the tax, and hope you make a profit on the total package.
  7. meselffff

    meselffff New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Yes, thank you. But this case, it would be helpful if somebody could share their input about working times for the tasks I listed above. The customer is buying the materials. I will remember to state that if they want me to pick up, that is not included. I usually work by the hour and have not developed much of a feel for working times for specific tasks so some help would still be more helpful than me trying to visualize everything. My old invoices are not much help either because other work at the projects got mixed in on the invoices and I can't remember and sort how long these tasks took. I usually always work by the hour and do not usually accommodate bid requests due to the time spent on constructing them and documenting everything discussed and then having to revise every time a customer inevitably asks for something additional. But this customer likes me and I would like to accommodate because they are trying to figure if they can afford everything in tile or need to budget the work down some. I don't want to pad the bid real high on them to deal with my uncertainty about working times and if somebody could share some insight, that would be appreciated.
  8. DougB

    DougB Member

    It seems your problem is that you don't want to loose the job - you'd like to make money doing the job, and you want someone else to tell you how long the job would 'normally' take.

    But this is no way to make money, since someone's elses estimate doesn't guarantee you a profit - it's just someone elses guess.

    Your 'ballpark' between 90 and 180 hrs - well that's a 100% difference. I'm telling you, you're in way over your head. Leave it go - or bust it into pieces - and tell them you will do one at a time.

    I don't mean this as personal criticism, just advice from a guy who has built custom software for 40 yrs.
  9. meselffff

    meselffff New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    You know what Doug, I am really struggling to maintain a polite composure with you. How can you even pretend to write software if you can't even keep track of a few points previously covered on a brief thread like this? All I can do is try to ignore you and maybe the thread will somehow eventually get back on track on its own in case someone qualified wants to chip in and share insight on working times that I am dealing with. Best wishes to you.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    since you insist.
    a] install a tub protector of cardboard & packing tape .

    Buy a preformed plastic protector for the tub. 1 hour.
    b] tear out the existing drywall.

    1 1/2 hours
    c] install additional bracing lumber where needed between the studs.

    why should you have to?
    d] install a moisture barrier to the studs.

    1 hour
    e] install cement board.

    2 1/2 hours
    f] tape the seams with thinset.

    1 hour
    g] tape & finish the joint between the cement board and drywall with setting type joint compound.

    included with "F".
    h] install 8" square tile using thinset and leveling plugs, cutting tile as needed.

    What kind of tile, ceramic, marble, granite, or porcelain?
    i] grout.

    sand or epoxy grout?
    j] caulk the tile edge to the drywall with the caulk that matches the grout (customer's preferance).

    1 hour
    k] remove the tub protector & clean up.

    1 hour unless you were real messy.
  11. Justadrip

    Justadrip Member

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    New York
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  12. meselffff

    meselffff New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    HJ, You're Awesome! Thank you! I've posted this request to three different forums assuming the same thing would happen that happens in IT forums, people exchange and share knowledge and methods and they focus on the questions without trying to evaluate the emotional worthiness or competence level of the person who started the thread. When I worked with tech, I enjoyed helping out in a forum from time to time trying to answer questions specifically as they were presented. On this thread in three different forums, I have had everything from from arm chair psychoanalysis to condescending comments to unsolicited insults about my aptitude and capabilities. I was even accused of being a home DIY! You're the one who went over the list and shared your expertise to help out a fellow service provider, freely providing information requested. You're the PRO! THANK YOU!
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  13. Retro_Lou

    Retro_Lou New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Have you considered building in your hourly rate into a per square foot price for the client and then seeing what might look better to present? Most contractors (that I'm familiar with) typically use the hourly rate for labor plus materials but I think a different approach could be to present them with a per square foot price with your labor built into the charge.
  14. DougB

    DougB Member

    My thought exactly. Advice on how to do something is one thing. Asking how long it will take for you to perform the task is something else.

    One should be organized / thoughtful enough to sit down with a paper and pencil and itemize the job in sufficient detail so that you can estimate a duration for each task. If you can't do that - then you're not organized enough to run a business.
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    It's really hard to say how long it will take for a particular job when there's no clear knowledge of the skill level of the person involved. Something that might take one pro with the specialized tools and knowledge an hour, might take another 2-3 or more, some of that learning, some not having the special tool(s), or running into a situation you've not seen before and have to figure it out.
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