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I need some tips - building a cable railing.

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  • I need some tips - building a cable railing.

    Hello,

    I'm building a 13ft cable railing with 5 posts. Each post is 1 1/2 x 1/ 1/2 and will have it's own 1/4 inch thick base.
    The top will be 1/4 inch flat bar which will be capped with wood. The railing posts will (obviously ) have holes for the cable to run through.

    Right now the customer wants to use mild steel, but may decide to go stainless (which I think will look better), either way I don't exactly know how to price out labor costs...

    This is a side gig, I'm no pro, but can put down nice Tig welds, I say I'm no pro because I'm sure I don't work as fast as a pro who has a nice welding table, a bunch of clamps and jigs etc. I'm sure I have what it takes to do the job, it will just take me a bit longer....

    So, what do I charge? How do I charge? I hardly know what it would take me to get it done, I don't want to under estimate?

    I've heard that some charge by the foot
    Some multiply the hours (hourly wage)
    Some piece it out and have the charges itemized by a charge for cutting the material (ex: 80 cents a cut) and a charge for drilling holes... 16 holes per square tube (8 on each side) 5 tubes, thus 80 holes total.

    Anyhow,

    How would you figure this out?

    I'm just a dude with a welding job who also enjoys picking up side work. I'd work on it at work but at work we only deal with Aluminum, no mild steel there and the work benches are all Aluminum as well.
    Last edited by TigR; 11-08-2008, 02:16 PM.

  • #2
    I would think you really need to think the whole build through with a piece of paper (or better... a computer spreadsheet) and estimate how many hours it's going to take you... plus cost of materials... (don't forget that if he goes SS the magnetic holders will not work as easily, more time... =)

    Then figure out what you want to get paid to work those hours in your 'off' time...

    If you end up going long after that, you would chalk it up to a learning experience that the customer needn't pay for anyways...

    Or maybe you could get him to pay you by the hour?

    Al...

    Comment


    • #3
      nfinch86-Canadian Weldor :

      Originally posted by TigR View Post
      Hello,

      I'm building a 13ft cable railing with 5 posts. Each post is 1 1/2 x 1/ 1/2 and will have it's own 1/4 inch thick base.
      The top will be 1/4 inch flat bar which will be capped with wood. The railing posts will (obviously ) have holes for the cable to run through.

      Right now the customer wants to use mild steel, but may decide to go stainless (which I think will look better), either way I don't exactly know how to price out labor costs...

      This is a side gig, I'm no pro, but can put down nice Tig welds, I say I'm no pro because I'm sure I don't work as fast as a pro who has a nice welding table, a bunch of clamps and jigs etc. I'm sure I have what it takes to do the job, it will just take me a bit longer....

      So, what do I charge? How do I charge? I hardly know what it would take me to get it done, I don't want to under estimate?

      I've heard that some charge by the foot
      Some multiply the hours (hourly wage)
      Some piece it out and have the charges itemized by a charge for cutting the material (ex: 80 cents a cut) and a charge for drilling holes... 16 holes per square tube (8 on each side) 5 tubes, thus 80 holes total.

      Anyhow,

      How would you figure this out?

      I'm just a dude with a welding job who also enjoys picking up side work. I'd work on it at work but at work we only deal with Aluminum, no mild steel there and the work benches are all Aluminum as well.
      HI, TigR; Time & Material ; Price the Cost of your Material , Estimate Your Time to complete the Job, at My Shop thats Material + $65.00 Hr. Hope that HELPS ??...... Norm :

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by nfinch86 View Post
        HI, TigR; Time & Material ; Price the Cost of your Material , Estimate Your Time to complete the Job, at My Shop thats Material + $65.00 Hr. Hope that HELPS ??...... Norm :


        Finally we get a man here worth his salt to give a straight up estimate for a job. Thanks nfinch86.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by TigR View Post
          Hello,

          I'm building a 13ft cable railing with 5 posts. Each post is 1 1/2 x 1/ 1/2 and will have it's own 1/4 inch thick base.
          The top will be 1/4 inch flat bar which will be capped with wood. The railing posts will (obviously ) have holes for the cable to run through.

          Right now the customer wants to use mild steel, but may decide to go stainless (which I think will look better), either way I don't exactly know how to price out labor costs...

          This is a side gig, I'm no pro, but can put down nice Tig welds, I say I'm no pro because I'm sure I don't work as fast as a pro who has a nice welding table, a bunch of clamps and jigs etc. I'm sure I have what it takes to do the job, it will just take me a bit longer....

          So, what do I charge? How do I charge? I hardly know what it would take me to get it done, I don't want to under estimate?

          I've heard that some charge by the foot
          Some multiply the hours (hourly wage)
          Some piece it out and have the charges itemized by a charge for cutting the material (ex: 80 cents a cut) and a charge for drilling holes... 16 holes per square tube (8 on each side) 5 tubes, thus 80 holes total.

          Anyhow,

          How would you figure this out?

          I'm just a dude with a welding job who also enjoys picking up side work. I'd work on it at work but at work we only deal with Aluminum, no mild steel there and the work benches are all Aluminum as well.




          I hardly know what it would take me to get it done


          Come on now you must have some idea of the steps you will take to complete the job.

          Break them down into each step, and figure (guess) how each step will take. Add them up. It is that simple.



          I've heard that some charge by the foot
          Some multiply the hours (hourly wage)
          Some piece it out and have the charges itemized by a charge for cutting the material (ex: 80 cents a cut) and a charge for drilling holes... 16 holes per square tube (8 on each side) 5 tubes, thus 80 holes total.




          I use them all (in some way) I know from experience that an 8 rail ADA guard rail sells for "X" per foot in my area.

          You cant use the "hourly wage" as in the wage you would pay an employee: you need to figure it on the hourly rate "cost" of the employee. One includes the cost of work comp, liability ins, cost of owning and maintaining equipment, employee tax.... on and on...


          For starters I would break it down to small steps, I know that each hole drilled in flat stock or square tube will take less time than the same hole (or set of holes) in round stock. Indexing round stock for cutting or hole drilling just takes more time.



          16 holes per square tube (8 on each side) 5 tubes, thus 80 holes total.

          1/4" hole = 20 seconds each hole ( it would be easy to come up with a jig for locating each hole so you only layout one set of holes) so 20 seconds x 80 holes 1600 seconds = about 30 minutes + some time for layout and jig making so 80 holes at 1/4" in my shop would be 1 hour shop time.




          After you figure guess how long it will take you to complete multiply that figure by your shop rate. Then add the cost of materials + your mark up on the materials

          How do you find out the shop rate call some shops in your area and ask. Realize that you don't have a shop with all the cool tooling that saves time so... say the going rate is $100.00 for a fully equipped shop, you are not so you are going to take longer to do the same work so your price per hour should be lower. In the end the customer will be paying the same price (the real value) for the product. You make a bit less per hour but you get the work and learn what tooling you need to buy so next time it takes you less time to complete the work and thus can do more work per hour. But you will have to raise your prices to cover the cost of the equipment.
          Last edited by FATFAB; 11-09-2008, 10:55 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by araspitfire View Post
            If you end up going long after that, you would chalk it up to a learning experience that the customer needn't pay for anyways...

            Or maybe you could get him to pay you by the hour?

            Al...
            Well said, I hate when someone expects the customer to pay for there mistakes.
            I can't add anything more than to agree with whats been said. Compute the time as accurately as possible, cost of material and any work outside of youre shop (subcontracted) and go for it. If they like the price and you finish ahead of schedule, good for you. If it takes longer than expected, take note of where you made the error for next time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Just to add some thoughts...

              At the beginning, there are no shortcuts... you need to figure out everything in detail, or run the risk of working for 2 bucks an hour..... (or worse, loosing money on your materials/insurance)... I wonder how many people don't factor in the eventual replacement cost of their gear... only to have it wear out and have no money in the bank to cover a replacement?... (lots I'd bet)

              After you have estimated a range of jobs for yourself, and gotten feedback on how much money you made (or lost)... you can then say... Easy peazy... 10 feet of fence cost $xxx...

              But to get there you need to meticulously work it out a few times.

              Al...

              Comment


              • #8
                Try this...

                Have you ever done this particular type of work before?
                if yes, then apply the memory to the new quote

                if not, break it out into sections and try to guess how long per section...

                Don't sell yourself short, i would add at least 25% on top of the materials unless they provide them directly.

                If you are really stumped... quote the materials and tell them you'll work by the hour...

                Comment


                • #9
                  a simple way to look at it also woule be to price materials and multiply by 2, then think of the hours involved and what you'd want to get paid to do it and times that by 2 as well. This usually ends up about the same as if you were to price it out hourly between 40 and 60 bucks an hour plus materials. That was a simple way to bid handrails and stuff for painting that my old boss who helped me learn what it took to make my painting business make money as i was severely underbidding on the first several jobs by just doing material + what i thought it was worth "to me" to get paid to do it, and hadn't even figured gas, food, defects to repair that eat time and materials you may not have etc...

                  When people ask me waht i charge i say "40 an hour plus materials if you bring it to me. Add 25 more dollars an hour and i will come to you and do the work" No one has acted as if that's high most think it's a pretty fair price and aside from a few learning experiences when working on stainless or aluminum i haven't come up short on money on a job is quite some time now.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Pricing

                    I charge 1.5 to 2 times the price of materials depending on how intense it is but I am like you not a pro but I get paid LOL

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks to all of you for your responses!

                      Very helpful.

                      Alexander

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cable railing

                        I`m not the best estimator personally, but i can offer a bit of advise. Almost without exception, your end posts need to be double posts or reinforced with some sort of visually appealing strong back. If you don`t take this into account your end posts will be "banana"_ed by the time you get 8 lines of cable tight enough. If it`s a code job, this means tight enough that a 4" sphere won`t deflect the cables and pass through at the center point of your post span.
                        Just something to think about as it could add to your material and labor costs. Discovering this at the end of the project definitely adds to your labor costs and aspirin bill.
                        Good luck to you on your project...............Dave.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          nfinch86-Canadian Weldor:

                          Originally posted by usmcruz View Post
                          Finally we get a man here worth his salt to give a straight up estimate for a job. Thanks nfinch86.
                          usmcruz, HI; THANKS !!!!!! ....... Norm :

                          Comment

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