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How To Bid Finish Carpentry

How to bid finish carpentry is relatively easy. keep in mind A builder contractor may inflate these price examples due to the many different types of situations and circumstances.You do have to take a few things into consideration but there is plenty of room to make some good money.

Being a finish carpenter I always bid my jobs by the job and with good reason. To start lets look at some of the basics on how to bid finish carpentry. Here I will be talking about labor only. At the bottom of this page I discuss some of the factors which are included when bidding and supplying the materials.

Basic Bidding

The size of the job is a big factor. If for example you are going to trim a whole house the first thing I look at is the square footage of the house. Thats the starting point because I charge so much per square foot. This price can range from $.8o to $1.00 per foot depending what is involved with the trim work in the house. Things that affect this price may include hollow core or solid core doors, how much work is involved with the windows, how complicated is the cabinetry in the kitchen or through out the house, or if we are installing cabinets at all and how much extra trim work is involved beyond the basics.

Extras Added To The Bid

There are a few items not included in the square footage bid and one of them is the Hand railing. Hand railings are a separate price on top of the bid. A bare minimum price of a hand railing that needs to be built is $15 a foot. That is bare minimum if you have the whole job of trimming a house. If I go to a job just to build a railing I will charge up to $30 a foot depending on the railing. In other words I can't drive to a job 50 miles away to build a 3' railing for $15 a foot. It takes a lot of set up of tools and equipment also no matter how big or small the rail is.

Other Extras

Pocket doors are another extra. I used to just include these in the square footage bid until I ran into some higher end houses that had 10 or more pocket doors. They take a lot more time to install compared to swinging doors and involve more work. I will charge an extra $15 per door for these.

Big kitchens with a lot of cabinets, a lot of crown molding and extra work involved with the install are also an extra. In this instance I would up the square footage a little and then charge about $25 per cabinet and this would be where it requires a couple guys all day to install the kitchen. This is kind of a judgment call and a lot of times I rely on my experience to make this call because I can estimate the time fairly well.

How To Bid Finish Carpentry With Other Extras

Other extras may include wainscoting, extra built in cabinets, crown molding installed at the ceiling or anything that doesn't fit into the basic trim job of doors, windows, and baseboard. These to me are extras and I will look at them very closely and estimate the time it would take and tack on a little extra time for unseen problems and charge around $50 an hour all things considered. Again these prices on how to bid finish carpentry only include a whole house project of trim work.

Here's An Actual Example

This takes into consideration that the builder contractor has all the materials on the job and the job is ready. This is a very competitive bid in my area of the country.

  1. A split level home of about 1500 sqaure ft.
  2. $.85 x 1500' = $ 1275.00
  3. Unfinished basement
  4. N/A
  5. small or midsize kitchen, no extras and small crown on the cabinets
  6. included in sq. ft. bid
  7. 10 ft of railing
  8. $ 15 x 10' = $ 150.00
  9. window inserts-no trimming of windows just install the jamb that is already pre-cased.
    included in sq. ft. bid
    Total = $ 1425.00

I get a lot of people asking how to bid finish carpentry. Most of the time my answer is the same, bid by the square foot. Then so much per foot for the hand railing.

How To Bid Finish Carpentry with Supplying the Materials

First there are some things to consider, are you supplying all of the materials for the job or not. If you are bidding the job including materials, that throws in a whole new set of rules. A lot of what I am going to explain here depends on how complicated or how big the job may be.

  • In the bid you will want to take in extra consideration for picking up or ordering and getting the materials to the job. This may incur extra costs alone if they are being delivered by the supplier to the job.


  • Also don't forget about your extra time for bidding in this situation. You will need to do some precise measuring and calculations for the right materials and the correct amount of materials, with so much figured in for waste.


  • Bidding with the materials included may require some upfront work and research as well to get this bid as accurate as possible and to be able to make some money at the same time at this stage of the bidding process.


  • Keep in mind also that this requires extra trips to the job and this may or may not be a factor depending on the distance to the job. These days gas prices are an issue no matter what.


  • It's a good idea also to be on the job when the materials arrive if they are being delivered to the job to be sure everything is accounted for and the trim lumber is of the quality expected. Making trips to get or take back materials is costly and doesn't have to happen.


  • Keep in mind also that some materials may end up being back ordered and hold the supplier responsible for these items to be delivered.


  • These are just some of the things to keep in mind. The different jobs bring different situations and better yet more opportunities to make a little extra.

    Be careful to keep everything in perspective to stay competitive especially when you are new at learning how to bid finish carpentry.

    Making Money In Finish Carpentry
    Learning Finish carpentry



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