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The "Art" of Preparing Painting Estimates

Jul 11, 2008
Starting a wall murals or faux finish painting business can be a lucrative venture. Many aspiring painters, however, run into the question of how to prepare painting estimates. Although there are no easy answers to this question, there are some guidelines to consider.

First, you have to determine how you will prepare estimates for potential clients. There are three common ways of bidding a job:

1. Flat Fee Bidding

The most commonly used method by muralists and faux finish painters is flat fee bidding. This requires that you go to the work site, discuss with the customer his or her expectations for the job, factor in the expenses for any materials needed, and provide a flat fee bid after assessing the site.

2. Charging by Square Foot

Another method is bidding based on the square footage of the site. If using this method, it is still important to meet with the client and survey the site conditions. Although you may normally charge a certain amount based on square footage, you may want to adjust this amount if the site conditions present obstacles to completing the job in a timely manner or require you to purchase additional materials.

3. Charging by the Hour

The final method discussed here is bidding based upon your hourly charge. As someone just starting a wall murals or faux finishing business, it may be difficult to tell how long a job is going to take, but as you gain experience, this is something that you will become accustomed to determining. Keep in mind that if you are providing a per hour charge to your customer, most will want an upfront estimate as to how long the job will take to complete. You will also need to determine if your expenses for materials will be included in your hourly charge or will be itemized separately.

Regardless of which method you use for preparing estimates for potential clients, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, it is imperative that you scope out the work site first before providing a quote. Although some customers may call you with the dimensions of their project and expect you to provide your fee over the telephone, it is never a good idea to give a quote without first assessing the site conditions.

Second, you should include the cost of materials into your estimate. This can either be factored into your labor expenses or itemized separately. If itemizing separately, consider getting a reseller's license so that you can purchase paint and other supplies at wholesale and without paying sales tax. You can then charge the customer the retail price for the supplies needed for the job. You will then need to collect the sales tax from your customer, and forward these payments to the proper governmental entities in accordance with your local and state laws.

Finally, if you are having a difficult time determining what to charge, more experienced painters in your area can also be a great source of information. Don't be afraid to let them know that you have started or are thinking of starting your own business in the same field. You may run across some who are not willing to talk to you, but the majority should be willing to help you, as well as offer valuable insight into the business.
About the Author
This article was written by Dawn Hall. Visit her website, Wall Murals 1-2-3, for other tips and techniques, including instructions regarding how to paint a mural.
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