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SunNdeLight 09-16-2005 11:53 AM

Building Labor Costs

I live in Central Florida and I have purchased what I was advised to be a great deal of an unfinished home. Unfortunately, my uncle who was the advisor and was helping me has passed away.

The house is ready for drywall now and I still have faith that I will come out ahead, but I am clueless in fair labor costs.

I am looking for fair labor costs (inlcuding the unit of measurement and per unit pricing) for:

Insulation (attic blown and outer walls), stucco, doors and trim (they are the inexpensive type prefabricated), cabinets (also prefabricated inexpensive type), carpet and vinyl, the garage door (two car, not full double and no automatic opener), the final grading of the lot to prepare for poured concrete, something called a final electrical and plumbing work (I guess it's where the fixtures are hooked up), and the A/C final as well.

I have much of the materials already and had already discussed where to get what I'm missing at a good price, but installation pricing was not a phase we discussed yet, plus he had planned on doing some of the work himself. I already had the drywall scheduled, I planned on doing the cleaning, painting and scrapping myself. I also need a general idea of what the concrete pouring pricing is going to be like. Is that by the cubic foot or what?

I think I can still pull this off, I just need some help figuring out general pricing so that I can at least have a good idea when I step into the lions den asking for a quote, especially since I am a woman. I am on a limited budget so a contractor is out of the question. I have to be able to this on my own.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :rolleyes:

Humble Abode 09-17-2005 09:02 AM

It is extremely hard for contractors to come up with qoutes like this 'off the cuff.' Most need to see the site and take detailed measurements. When you ask a contractor to give a ballpark without seeing the site you get answers from $5 to $50,000. You may be able to get some ballparks by stating extreme specifics about the plumming and electrical. But I doubt you will get any real good info on things like grading.

The best advise I can give you is to ALWAYS get three quotes! Ask a lot of questions and try to crossreferance the answers with info found on the internet or elswhere. After the three quotes come in go with the person who gave the middle quote. The low quote may seem like a great deal but usually the lowest bidder isn't the greatest 'craftsmen,' and your quality will suffer.

Best of luck.

slickshift 09-17-2005 09:33 AM

I'm sorry to hear of your loss

Like Humble says, the best thing to do to get an idea of local prices, is get a few quotes
Usually 3 will get you in the ball park, and I'd also suggest that as a minimum

The thing is, if I gave you what each project would cost up here, it would be very different where you are
What shape the stuff that's already done is in, and as mentioned, many other factors come into play
It would be tough to say for sure w/o seeing it

But I do have some other suggestions

You'll have to find someone that will work with the materials that you purchased*, and doesn't mind the Homeowner (you) acting as the General Contractor, or GC. So you are looking for Labor Only quotes

*Most of us do not make a lot on materials, it's just that we want enough of the right kind, and all the little bits that go with it (nails, screws, tape, sandpaper, glue) which is why usually we would rather purchase them

Consider hiring someone to act as a GC
It seems this is what your uncle was doing
You have a lot of little projects, and to get 3 or more quotes on each one will eat up a tremendous amount of time
Each one will have a little different way of doing things, and could tell you the "right" way is different than the last one
It can get a little confusing
The timing and scheduling of some of your project is also important, someone with a little more experience would be helpful

Often when the H/O acts as a GC, each Sub-contractor (specialist, the concrete guy, the trim gal) will try to manipulate the scheduling to their advantage
It's not that all Subs do this, it's just that the H/O doesn't always know what steps in what order, and you almost can't blame the insulation guy for trying to impress upon the H/O the importance of the insulation installation over everything else
To him, it is the most important thing ;)

If you are going to act as GC, do not automatically go for the cheapest Subs
As always, there is a reason they are cheaper
Sometimes the cheapest can be the most expensive in the long run
Example: Lets say your framer was really cheap, and did a Hack job. Nothing is square, the studs are off.
Now the drywaller comes in. He was going to do the drywall for $XX per sheet. But now he finds out nothing is square and nothing lines up. He has to do so much work to make it right, the price is now $YY a sheet

Don't be suprised if you don't get a discount for your help in prep and clean-up
Most likely your work would have to be checked anyway, if not actually done over
Granted it may be a little quicker, and help like that is very much appreciated, but it is not something that can be counted on when making a Bid or Proposal
The contractor can't be sure you'll do it right, and has to figure that he'll do it, do it over, or at least spend time checking it
That being said, if you can truly save the contractor significant man-hours, like 30% of the labor or more, I'd look for a discount
Saving them 20 minutes a day is helpful, but isn't enough to warrant a discount

If you are going to act as GC, get ready for some headaches
Sorry, it's just part of the job

If you are going to be acting as a GC, and are supplying materials, make sure your "Subs" have everything they need
As I mentioned before, the little bits
Also, no matter what the associate at Home Depot says, do not ever substitute anything on the list w/o calling the Sub and checking
Also keep in mind that a Bosch 12" sliding miter saw is not considered a "material", so if that's on a list...;)
Which does bring me to another point, Sundries
The stuff that gets used up or thrown away
Sandpaper for example
Make sure you know who's supplying the sundries

I would consider getting some over-all quotes from GCs
You could get an idea of the cost of the over-all project that way
I'm not at all convinced it will save you money not to go with a GC
I know I myself have different price structures for dealing with a GC or an H/O
It's nothing personal, it's just that, as a contractor, I save time and money dealing with a GC
They know what I need, when I need it, and they don't need me to explain things or "sell" them on the way thing should be done, they won't have the exterior trim painter, the roofers, and the window guys all show up on the same day, it's just easier
These things I'll gladly do for an H/O, but I also have to figure that in my prices

Finding someone that will work hourly won't necessarily save you money
Because you are looking for labor only bids, you may find people who will work for hourly, rather than by the job
I just wanted to mention that it is sort of a Homeowner myth that this saves them money
It could, but it could also turn into a nightmare
Mostly it seems to work out about the same

Also I would like to bring up the Liabilty thing
Acting as a GC, it would be imperative that you check out each contractor's insurance, which they must have
Otherwise, if any accidents occur you are liable
Make sure that any sub has the proper insurance, and libility is clearly defined

Even if you are not going to act as a GC, you already have a bit of a sticky wicket, as you want to (or have) purchase(d) the materials. The GC could argue that you were actually acting as GC, and that you purchased the materials could add credence to that argument
Make sure that liabilty is clearly defined in any agreements

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