Regardless of the construction trade a person works in, everyone has a task they enjoy doing and a task they just hate to do. Usually, the task they enjoy doing is something they can do well. For an experienced HVAC contractor, installing duct work is a piece of cake. Then there are other tedious tasks that are frustrating to do. The challenge for contractors is understanding how to calculate and accurately charge for these types of tasks.
Most individuals who choose to work in the construction field do so because they enjoy working with their hands. They enjoy interacting with real things. They did not get this job because they wanted to be an accountant. However, as much as a contractor may hate estimating jobs and then making bids based on these estimates, it is an essential part of what they do. Being able to accurately estimate a job and being able to accurately bid for a job can mean the difference between a successful business and one that fails.
Many contractors have experiences where they get the job, do the best work they can, but because of a problem with their estimate, they either break even or walk away losing money. Mistakes associated with pricing a job will cost contractors money.
The first step in accurately estimating a job is to make sure that you include all of the materials you are going to need. For example, a plumber would need to know the pipes they're going to be using, the number of elbows they will need, and the amount of digging and excavating they will need to do for the job.
Something else to take into consideration is the number of vehicles that are going to be used on the job. Contractors should not forget to prorate the wear and tear their vehicles are going to have, depreciation of the vehicles, and fuel costs. Additionally, overhead costs need to be factored in. This includes insurance, permits, advertising, salary, and all of the other little things that contractors need in order to keep their business running.
Many contractors have seen the benefit of pre-estimating a job and then using that to create a flat rate. Electricians can show their customers the flat rate in an electrical price book. They can also show upgrades to the job that can be done for an up charge. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of bidding for a job.