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Unread 02-16-2009, 11:36 PM   #1
Jager Custom Tileworks LLC
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Seattle
Posts: 5
Bidding Help


So i've been a tile setter for about 10 years now. I've been a contractor for about 3, but i've been working all 3 years for another tile contractor. This means i don't know ANYTHING about bidding!
Now that I'm venturing out on my own, i need a little advice.
My question:
I have to bid a very custom multi-million dollar home. Everything is stone. Window wraps, benches, shower niches, curbless trench drain shower pans. Not to mention the 4 sided 2 story fire place (of which i'll post some other questions pertaining to that later). So i'm thinking of bidding it at $20 a sq. ft. This would include all prep (including prep materials), setting, grouting, and sealing. It comes out to be about $15,000.00 (labor and prep materials) for 3 showers, a medium sized floor, and a fireplace. Does this seem to much to ask for (sq. ft. price)??
I'd love to hear some feed back.
Thanks again- Love this Forum!!!!!!
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Unread 02-17-2009, 12:00 AM   #2
Old World Tile and Marble
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: albany new york
Posts: 1,341
hard to say without seeing the job firsthand sooo......give me the name and number of the builder,k??

you using a payroll company?comp and other ins?whats the income your currently trying to replace?how many hours do you think itll take to complete less your material costs labor burden etc?so many ?? sooooo....whats that builders name and #

you just starting out in this economy very brave!!
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Unread 02-17-2009, 12:06 AM   #3
Jager Custom Tileworks LLC
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Seattle
Posts: 5
I think the job will take about 6 weeks. i still have to speck out the material price. but i figure my price works out to be about $65/hr which is what most guys are getting around town.
As for starting out in this economy, i say i'm not so much brave as i am stupid

and no, you can't have the number
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Unread 02-17-2009, 12:19 AM   #4
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Location: Albany, NY
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Jaeger(meister)- I don't claim to be any kind of bidding genius, in fact I've learned a lot "going to business school". that is to say, losing money and making mistakes. This sounds like the wrong job to apply those principals to. Also glad to heare there is good work still happening somewhere in the country.

To me, just throwing a random number like $20 a foot at this or any project is wrong. You charge the same to mud and waterproof a shower floor as to do the walls? A 2 story fireplace? Scaffolding rental costs? What are the tile materials selected and the layouts. Lots of minimosaics? 2 foot by 4 foot stone slabs that don't fit on any saw you now own?

Each room needs to be broken down by steps needed to do the job. Lots of times at this bidding point in the job there haven't been selections made for finishes like tile, but the customer is given an allowance. You may need to write up a set of parameters as to what constitutes a "standard install" that will have all kinds of exclusions in it. Think of a shower with 4 niche boxes and 5 penetrations to cut tile around in the cieling instead of 1.

Bidding is not simple, more ways to screw yourself.....

good luck, there are a lot of pros from washington state here, you might be bidding against some of them.

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Unread 02-17-2009, 12:29 AM   #5
Remodeling and Tile Contractor
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Kirkland, WA
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Very custom...........Everything is stone............$15,000.00 (labor and prep materials) for 3 showers, a medium sized floor, and a fireplace.
Without knowing ALL the details, my first impulse if that you are off base. I would break these 5 items down and price each one individually, and see what you come up with.

I agree with the above post regarding sq.ft. pricing not working well for this scenario.
Facilities Manager, TPC Snoqualmie Ridge
Reformed Remodeler and C54 Tile Contractor
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Unread 02-17-2009, 01:02 AM   #6
Crestone Tile
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Colorado
Posts: 2,315
Exactly what the others said. I'm so sick of square foot pricing. What Gueuze said about exclusions - even if you know the finish materials, having height / dimension / material / layout exclusions in every proposal is good practice (Some clients really like to change their mind about details when the work is underway).

Matt - "These 24" travertine tiles will be easier than the 12" ceramic ... there's less of them"

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Unread 02-17-2009, 01:26 AM   #7
Jager Custom Tileworks LLC
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Seattle
Posts: 5
great advice !!!!!!

I do have different break downs, but its not very detailed. I do break it down room by room. But i usually charge by the foot. Maybe now i'll look to using other methods. Thanks everyone for the quick feedback!!
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Unread 02-17-2009, 08:30 AM   #8
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: East TX
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Be more thorough.If you want accurate advice you need to give accurate description.Right now all youre really asking for is help on a GUESStimate

2nd generation tile installer
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Unread 02-18-2009, 06:19 AM   #9
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Over the 10 years did you keep any data or time studies on the jobs you did? That is what we did. Every job had a description and a detailed time track. Later when we had to bid a similar job, we had the estimated time and materials we would need to do it. It was a great starting point and we could adjust for conditions. The last thing you want to do is bid by the square foot. It is a sure way to loose money!

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I lost my hero on 5-21-16 You will be missed. Semper Fi
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Unread 02-18-2009, 07:00 AM   #10
John Bridge
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Rosanky, Texas
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Hi Jager,

I used to work in homes like that all the time until I semi-retired three years ago. The only things I could ever hang square foot prices on were floors, which were all mud in my case. Depending on whether they were ceramic or stone my square foot price went up and down. Difficulty also influenced that price.

On everything else, including showers, fireplaces, counters and splashes, I try to predict how long the job is going to take to complete and charge accordingly.

15 grand doesn't seem like a lot for a multi-million dollar house. My jobs often went to 30 grand in labor if they were going to take me a couple months. Also, you say six weeks. Better throw on another couple weeks. You're going to be dealing with a platoon of decorators and designers, architect, owners, builder. All this slows you down.

Finally, working at a loss is worse than not working at all.
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Unread 02-18-2009, 09:57 AM   #11
is still chugging along!
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Athens, GA
Posts: 55
These guys are right

There is a lot of room for error with just throwing the square foot price at the job. These guys are right about breaking the job down into individual projects. Here is what I do. Come up with your estimated hours to complete each project along with what you want to make personally on this job as well as extras that you may need such as tools or rentals. Figure out your materials to the T and then add in for waste. Throw in whatever overhead you have or need. After I have all this I like to add what I call a hassle factor to cover dealing with pain in the A@$ customers or my miscalculations. I put this at about 10% of bid give or take depending on competition or lack of work. Hope it all goes well for you.
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