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maydoug 12-12-2007 07:33 PM

framing material estimate
I am doing a 250 sf addition on my house in the bay area. I am trying to estimate the cost of the framing, specifically, the material. I am familiar with residential construction and I will be handling some of the interior carpentry. I also know when to let the pro's handle the job, so I am staying out of the framing.

The addition is a basic square bedroom with a bathroom, standard 8' ceiling, attic and average pitch roof. Also have a 3' pony wall between floor level and foundation.

I have two bids from quality contractors. 1st contractor bid labor and material. The 2nd contractor is trying to save me $$ and has estimated labor only. I know and trust contractor 2, otherwise i wouldn't agree to open labor estimate.

Can anyone estimate the cost of framing material by the sf?

The difference between contractor 1's total bid, and contractor 2's labor only estimate is approx. $19,000. (for a 250 sf addition). I know lumber yards will do a takeoff but I dont want to ask them to do all the work if I am not going to buy material from them. Is there an average cost/sf that I can use for framing? Any help is greatly appreciated

AtlanticWBConst. 12-12-2007 08:26 PM

Try getting a few more bids if you are unsure of the price quote....
Please find framers that will/do include the materials. Why?

A.) So you do not have to ''disect'' and account for every nail and square inch of lumber used. Example: approximately 20% of all delivered lumber (framing and finish) is unfit for custom installation. Do you want to be out there with a tape measure and magnifying glass checking it? Calling the supplier? Culling thru and checking every peice of lumber delivered? .... unltimately, also, turning into a jerk to the contractor by nit-picking and questionsing every fraction of an inch of waste-cut-off, etc...?????

Trust me, you should stay out of the framing and materials used, "picture". You said it yourself, you know when to let the pro's take over....

B.) Generally (99.9% of the time), contractors that quote jobs based on labor only, do it for a reason (they don't have the credit, can't get the credit, can't get an account, don't have the money, can't budget the money, don't have a good enough reputation to, etc, etc ...) - To be able to purchase the material and include it with the job quote.
(Seriously, that is what we see in the industry, and those are generally the reasons why materials will not be included on a bid....).
If you want to do business, or want to conduct business like ''them'', then you will only attract - ''similar types''....

Cole 12-12-2007 08:33 PM


Originally Posted by maydoug (Post 80183)
The 2nd contractor is trying to save me $$ and has estimated labor only. I know and trust contractor 2, otherwise i wouldn't agree to open labor estimate.

How is just bidding labor, saving you money?

He should be able to get the lumber from a solid reputable company and should get it for a better price then you can. Once again, how is that saving you money? To me, it is him being lazy not wanting to take the time to do a material estimate not sure if he will get the job.

kiwi54 12-12-2007 11:11 PM

Cole's right and I don't understand your motive here. If you're staying out of the framing stage why are you chasing prices for framing materials.
If you think Builder #1 is ripping you on materials, the answer is simple, get a second all up price quote. :wink:

Your second mistake is trusting Builder #2. Builder #1 has quoted you an all-up price, if his quote is firm and he uses more framing timber than he allowed for then usually that's on him and most respected builders will wear it UNLESS it's beyond their scope of work. Builder #2 has the luxury of ordering any framing material he think he wants and you're going to pay for it. He could put a small home addition in his own house with that arrangement.

Last, a square foot price for framing, I can do. Send me a floor plan showing all detail, allow an hour for understanding what you're going to do, two hours taking off the measurements and materials from all walls, corners, windows, doors, special features, load bearing and bunch of other questions the plan will answer, Give me an hour to run the specifications through my $2500 estimator, print the schedule and re-check the list by hand. Finally, send me a check for $425.00 to cover my time and computer time, made payable to Home Building Solutions, and I'll give you the price per square foot.
Or, let your #1 builder work all of this out for you inside his quote, pay his price and let him GET ON WITH IT :furious:

Cole 12-13-2007 09:11 PM

Maybe we were too rough? :laughing:

AtlanticWBConst. 12-13-2007 09:15 PM


Originally Posted by Cole (Post 80455)
Maybe we were too rough? :laughing:

I guess we may actually be.... "welcoming" him to the "real world"?


(This business ..... "ain't no square dance")

kiwi54 12-13-2007 11:16 PM

No disrespect was intended maydoug but look at it from our side. You've already been quoted, if you don't trust the guys that quoted you then it's simple, get other quotes. We don't have near enough information from you to prove figures, for example, 8' ceilings suggest trusses, we don't know the span to calculate cost, only the square footage. We don't know windows, doors and a heap of other things. We don't know if you're using any 6" frame or if it's all going to be 4".

Last and what steamed me the most, you have access to some very qualified contractors on this forum and yet in your thread, you're telling us that you're more than happy for us to spend an hour or two of our time, if we had the details, calculating costs and materials knowing we won't be doing the work for you, and yet you won't bother your local lumber yard to do a take-off from a plan sitting in front of them because you "may or may not" buy the materials from them.
After 20 plus years in this business I feel so worthless...:cry: ) (head hung in shame)

steve1234 12-17-2007 06:59 PM


I guess you hit a nerve with some folks on this board.....

I'm doing a remodel (CA bay area also) and we hired a framer. We had (3) quotes and the range was so wide it's like they weren't looking at the same plans. We ended up going with a smaller crew that we had past experience with and came recommended from others.

He didn't care who bought the material. We talked and came up with a list of suppliers that would work. Our contract was labor only for a set period of time. He came over for an hour during the demo phase to see what was "behind the walls" and together we walked through a material list. We walked through specifics rather than estimating per square foot (studs per wall + plates+ joists + beams). Pretty straight forward. Lots of sharpie writing on the walls. He left, I made a list, he checked it, and shopped it at (3) suppliers.

The house was a mess once we got into the project and we had to go back for more unforseen material, which I expected due to the nature of the project. I had the crew for a set time (another project scheduled behind ours) so I wanted they guys working and not chasing material. I tried to stay (2) steps ahead of them on material so it was there when they needed it.

Cost is a huge issue on our project and the framing is one of the few things we hired. I'm doing the rest of it. I know he had the accounts/means to get the material, I would just rather pay for them to frame, not shop. As for funding their house add-on, shouldn't be an issue if you know/trust them and stay close to the project.

How did it work in the end? I think my framer thought it was better since he never worried about material. He would write a list on one of the few remaining walls, we would sync up, and I would get it. I don't know if he thought I knew what I was doing so no issue, or he figured whatever, not my problem if there is a material issue. In the end I was happy and I would say he was too. When time expired (4-weeks), they had finished approx 80-85% of the work. In the first week both myself and the framer figured out they wouldn't finish once we realized what we were dealing with. Had it been an open labor quote, it would have come out more than estimated. Near the end, I would prioritize for them what I wanted done, so I could do what was left.

By the way, the total framing material bill came out around 50-60% of the material quote from the other 2 quotes we had.

kiwi54 12-17-2007 07:05 PM

so steve1234, add the material list to the labor cost and how much did you save over the other quotes, lowest to highest ?

AtlanticWBConst. 12-17-2007 07:21 PM


Originally Posted by kiwi54 (Post 81402)
so steve1234, add the material list to the labor cost and how much did you save over the other quotes, lowest to highest ?

And also figure out the time you spent overseeing that phase, listing & picking up materials, consulation, planning, phone calls, etc, etc....and multiply those hours at what an hourly rate would be in your area + insurance, gas, mark up, etc... Add it to the lowest price....

kiwi54 12-17-2007 07:46 PM

Ya stole my thunder AtlanticWBConst.....:)
As a contractor, I charge my materials retail, then add 10% to those materials, that covers pick-up, gas, all the things mentioned. If I buy where I can get a contractor discount then great, my gain.
I then add my labor and O&P, exactly as your contractor should have done. So when it boils down, you paid retail for your materials, you paid the labor with the contractor's O&P AND you paid for an extra person (you), gas, administration and all the other things usually completed by the contractor.
No matter what you say, your time ain't free. So I just gotta ask, where's the saving ??
Good contractors charge fair prices. No matter what you "feel" you saved, you didn't. The contractor still charged what he was going to charge whether he chased materials or didn't. You saved him a job, not yourself money.
I detest micro-management and if I know that is going to happen between the HO and myself, I turn the job down. As a contractor that usually ends up costing me "boucoup" money and is not worth the effort or the heartache. Once the HO becomes openly involved in the construction then it's a micro-management nightmare. The delays creep in because the Ho disagrees with the contractor on something, the HO blames the contractor for delays when in 80% of cases, if the HO had stayed away then things would have progressed much smoother.

Sarika 12-18-2007 01:07 AM


Joe Carola 12-18-2007 04:52 AM


Originally Posted by kiwi54 (Post 80471)
We don't have near enough information from you to prove figures, for example, 8' ceilings suggest trusses,

Since when does 8' ceilings suggest trusses?

steve1234 12-18-2007 01:11 PM

Material cost from 2 bids was 7.5 k and 6k. At the end of the day I spent under 4k for material....straight material. My time is not free???....really? Well, that changes my calculations.....

I guess we are all guilty of stereotyping. Contractors try to rip you off where ever they can, they don't show up when they say, they do crappy work, disappear from the job site for days on end, try to change order you to death, they know way more than the h.o can ever dream to know, and if there is a problem discovered after the last check cleared....forget about it, not their problem.

Now, me (homeowner) I must fall into this category: ....what a piece of work: Home Depot shopping, micro manager, want's everything for nothin' no good dumb a**. Contractors are put on the earth to break down bids for them. Guys got a hammer (big curved claw with a built in bottle opener....father's day present) and screwdriver (makita less) and thinks he knows more and can do more than the "contractor". Clearly any question is micro managing because he's just a dumba**. They should just shut up, not question it, and pay the fair price. He knows exactly how long something should take, and if he changes his mind....what's the problem? It's just a small change that shouldn't cost anymore time or $$$$. Contractors should be so lucky to only have to work for other contractors because working for homeowners just isn't worth it.

I find these types of discussions humerous. But for some strange reason I feel a need to clarify a bit:

You contractors that have a handle on your cost accounting....good for you. I believe you are ahead of 80% of the "contractors" out there, and you are the ones that are able to make a real living out there.

I know my time is not "free". There is an opportunity cost. I have a day job that does not get interupted since that is my source of cash flow. My "free" time is spent on my house project. Now, I have a finite ammount of cash, and an "unlimited" ammount of time that does not affect my cash flow. I knew this going into it. I wanted more house than the available cash could buy turnkey. So when it comes to stuff like chasing material for a framer. I would rather "spend" my time than "spend" my cash.....I know they're both "spending". You contractors aren't the only ones that understand the true cost.

I know this doesn't work for all contractors. The guy we hired gave us some options. He said he could bid the whole job, but it would be higher to cover him against the unknown. I get it, and he would be an idiot if he didn't do that. He said his labor cost is $1000/day. Which I took as a given. I did not try to convince him his labor cost was too high.....he did his cost accounting. Based on what he could see, he guessed a month (4 weeks). Turns out he had something scheduled following the 4 week slot. Knowing cash was an issue and my skills, he suggested a flat 4-week labor contract. At the end of 4 weeks, they were gone. Worked for me. They knew I was capable of getting material so they didn't care. I'm buying a finite chuck of their time and I wanted them doing what they do, not what I could do (material). What did they get?? Their fair labor cost for the exact time they had open on their schedule, no hassles, several lunches, and many beers.

At the end of the 4-weeks, they were not done. Again, that was fine. Many unknowns came up that took more time. I saw them, they saw them, no problem, you can't forsee everthing. Very rational discussion and not a classic H.O. vs Contractor argument. Rather than spending cash I don't have I spent my time finishing the framing. At the end of the day the whole crew offered to come back whenever we needed additional help, and I would recommend them to anybody, so I would say it worked out ok.

I guess I'm saying I know time has a "cost", not all jobs are the same, not all contractors are looking for the same type of job all the time, all contractors don't suck, and all homeowners aren't nightmares to work for.......

I think I spent too much time on this...:huh:

kiwi54 12-18-2007 03:53 PM


Originally Posted by Joe Carola (Post 81473)
Since when does 8' ceilings suggest trusses?

Uhmmmmm....since the starting height for a standard wall is usually eight, nine or ten feet and the only place a standard wall has to go is up, then if a person tells me they have an eight foot ceiling and they will have a standard pitch roof then it "suggests" that he is using trusses or whatever you might like to call them. Unless you build things a little differently in your part of the woods...:)
If he said pitched ceiling then I'd probably suggest he's going to use rafters...:)
"Suggest" is the operative word.

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