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  1. #1

    Default 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 at 02:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Den Haag
    Posts
    22

    Default

    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...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    S.W. Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,250

    Default

    Quote 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.
    To all who contribute to this board.
    My sincere thanks , Pete.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Den Haag
    Posts
    22

    Default

    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...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    29

    Default

    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...
    Kelly

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Omaha, NE
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    447

    Default

    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.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default 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

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks to all of you for your responses!

    Very helpful.

    Alexander

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    5

    Default 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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Delhi, Ontario:
    Posts
    1,969

    Thumbs up nfinch86-Canadian Weldor :

    Quote 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 :

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