What do other shops charge per hour in your area? Also, what is the difference in shop time vs. onsite? I charge $65 for shop time and $95 + for onsite, depending on the conditions.

I do bids, estimates, and T & M, depending on the job. You just have to kind of feel your way on this one. For example, if I'm asked for a price for anything that involves a remodel or demolition, it's strickly T & M.

I only bid jobs that I have very tight contol of, like knowing the exact amount of material required. Don't hesitiate to note on a bid or estimate that any changes will be billed at normal shop rate. Make sure the customer understands the bid is ONLY for the job requirements he has submitted.

Estimates? Some of the worst situations I have encountered have been when I let myself get suckered in by someone asking for a "ballpark number" and saying they won't hold me to it. This is especially true when it's over the phone and I don't have a chance to look at the actual job. BS!

Finally, I NEVER take down dimensions for even the smallest job over the phone. I tell the customer to draw up the specs and fax it to me or bring it by in person.

Hope this helps.