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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Olive Branch Ms


    Billing is tough. I have spent as much time trying to figure out what to charge as I have figuring out how to do the job. I have decided to stick to a set of guidelines and I don't deviate. I charge $75 an hour for my time spent actually welding, grinding installing, etc,,. If I have to make a run for materials I charge $40 flat. If I bid a job I put enough cushion in it to take care of the unknowns. My invoices have sections for materials, labor with a rate, an area that list other expenses such as picking up materials, and it all gets totaled up. I look at it this way, How many people on here have paid $300 to have their septic tank pumped out and it take 40 minutes. What about the A/C repair guy that charged you $350 to replace a $20 part on a Saturday? It's no different. If people could do it themselves they would. Maybe one day UNICEF will get into the welding business but for now we're the guys to see. Adam
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  2. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    near rochester NY


    I had all the material except for the 4' of rectangle tube which he brought over
    thats a statement that gets a lot of people in the red wondering how they got there. you had it on hand , but it didn't grow in the back yard. at some point you shelled out $100 or maybe more depending on what all you used.before you know it you start adding up your steel bills wondering why you spend $20,000 last year on steel and only billed out $10,000.
    thats the first thing we think when its a friend, oh i got the steel,i got the wire, no biggie i broke a lath chuck or cutter. you still payed for the steel, payed to go get it (at $3+ a gal ) and bought the bit for the lath, still have to buy wire, still have to pay the electric bill. it all adds up and ya have to bill for it. if ya keep over looking the little stuff it will grow up and bi-ch slap ya. just ask your accountant.
    back when i was making covers and selling them on e-bay i hated to pass on the extra expense as the fee's went up and mailing went up. but by the time i payed for the fabric, then the extra $ for getting it shipped to me, then the higher fee's then higher mailing out $ i could give mine and the wife's time away for free or charge more. like it or not ya have to pay for stuff to do the job, even if its already on the shelf.

    good luck
    if he is a real friend he will help you get the word out and get business regardless. if he is not, he doesn't deserve the discount.but don't pay him to do the job.
    thanks for the help
    hope i helped

    feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat.
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  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by root View Post
    You are in a tough spot. Here is my opinion, for what it is worth. I would charge him what it would cost you to do the job if you were asked to do it a second time. You learned a lot in the process of doing this job, so write off some of that as "school" for you.

    And next time, especially when working for a friend, discuss payment up front and anything that could make the cost escalate. And if it does start to escalate, I'd make it known to the customer before it gets out of hand.

    Everyone that has posted has made good arguments one way or another. As many say, you did put in the time to do the job right, and that is worth good money. If you charge him the "full" price, that is valid too. Tough position indeed.
    Well said, I too have used the "second time" rule. i also try and not get into open ended stuff with friends unless I have the time and am interested in the outcome. i am a part time backyard metal fabricator on road race cars. I do a lot "I got a little problem" work for my seemingly many friends with race cars. I use the one hour rule. If it is less than one hour from shop door open to shop door shut (plus an hour or two for general BS/beer time) I throw it down as a gimmie for my real friends. Real friends are the guys you spend time with when things are not broken or in need of more cage tubing) If after taking a look at the work it looks like I will be burning some real time and house stock or supplies I discuss money, taking the person into account. I always show what my retail time and standard shop costs are and what I think is reasonable for this one. I had a guy help me build my shop, he gets a lot of "gimmies". Sometimes the money is small and only to keep us both comfortable.

    Quote Originally Posted by fun4now View Post
    I had all the material except for the 4' of rectangle tube which he brought over
    thats a statement that gets a lot of people in the red wondering how they got there. you had it on hand , but it didn't grow in the back yard.
    Having stock in hand is not a reason to not charge something for it. You got the stock somehow and now is when that effort pays back. Even leftover from other paid work. This is deferred pay from the last job and storage fees.

    Some folks don't understand the time involved in one off work. A trailer was made on an assembly line the work you did required fit up and thinking. The time spent welding was likely a small %.

    Nothing gets work in the door like good work going out.
    Weekend wannab racer with some welders.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Fraser Valley, BC


    Quote Originally Posted by Vicegrip View Post
    Some folks don't understand the time involved in one off work. A trailer was made on an assembly line the work you did required fit up and thinking. The time spent welding was likely a small %.
    Very true, those who do not work in our profession have a hard time understanding what is involved in "redneck engeniring" and fabricating a one off part. Often when someone is laying out or fitting something it looks as if they are doing nothing, then they begin to weld and all of a sudden it is done. Much like watching a skyscraper being built. You watch all the equipment operators moving dirt around seemingly aimlessly and the foudation progress slowly, then all of a sudden the building shoots up.
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  5. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    dallas tx


    Quote Originally Posted by Vicegrip View Post
    Nothing gets work in the door like good work going out.
    i couldnt agree with you more ...

    i do all the welding on my buddy's 72 camaro rust bucket that were building....and now i got to weld up half a harley davidson frame
    my daddy always said i was IRONHEADED....
    feel free to P/M me

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Blissfield, MI


    You guys are right, I had about 2 hours plasma work, 2 hours on lathe/mill, 3hours on the drill (because I miss calculated and had a clearance problem) 3 hours on a screw up trying to use in-stock pipe for main support but it had a welded seam on the inside but put it on bottom thinking it would still work alright....not. Went and bought the right stuff and walah!!! Before the customer left for Florida we went over many different ways of doing the ramp supports that would work the best and as much as I tried to stick to that plan, it seemed to me that I would not support well enough while going down the road. It consisted of the rectangular tube going vertical about 2' in front of the ramp sticking up 2' and then another horizontal connecting the 2. I felt this set up would not support the ramps very well, they would be to wobbly. It was a good design in that the vert tube would drop down to support the trailer as an out rigger while loading. I finally came up with the simpler design and my supprt tube also pins in the front location and the leg will hang vertical for support on the trailer while loading. I just had a lot of time "thinking" this up. Probably had 4 hours welding after the earlier screw ups. That gets me to 14 hours which before starting the project I estimated 10 hours (not to the cutomer) so I was off a bit cause of the problems. Lots of time thinking (although not all in one sitting) I'm sure some of you guys know what I mean!
    Modern Metalworking L.L.C
    Blissfiled, MI

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  7. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Default time and money

    Around here TEXAS
    I do this and it usually comes out right 2 times material price + 30% plus= time spent + material
    I ve been doing this for about 25 yrs and when I charge just by looking at the job it comes out about the same I have under bid once but it was a Get In the Door step .It should of taken you about 10 12 hours to do that u may need more practice on prototypes .

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    I love threads like this. Very useful to know what everyone thinks about pricing.

    I guess in this situation I would charge full price for materials, and full price for time, minus my own mistakes and 'trial and error' time. Sometimes you have to charge for the latter, but we have to be realistic: It's a set of ramps, they've been successfully made for a long time now. Can't really charge for product development/engineering in this case, IMO.

    A guy might have $1000 in materials, time and effort in a set of ramps legitimately, but you can't charge that to someone if you expect to stay in business.

    I like the comment about how much the second set would cost...I would charge a price that was fair to me and the customer for what I'd make another set for.


  9. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    National City CA


    Quote Originally Posted by View Post
    Charge for your time.

    My customers come to me with an idea first question is do you have drawings???

    If not I tell them up front that I charge $X per hour for drawing time If it needs an engineer then thy pay for that as well.

    Your customer brought it to you because you had the time to do it right he can pay for the service.

    Way too many craftsman are fearful of charging for, My CPA is always happy to see me because the minute he sits back down he hits the timer, we might not just talk business I still pay and pay and pay.......

    Collect what is due you. You did not go into business to give more of your time away did you?????

    I have to agree. Now you may have to argue with him about the engineering side of the job but still time is time.
    The only time you don't charge full price for engineering something is when you know for a fact you will have more identical work in the near future.

    Machine shops charge rates as follows:
    Man hour:
    Machine hour:
    Man & Machine hour:
    So you could line item everything.
    That's what I would do.
    Oh and BTW shop rate out here are $65 on the very low end to $100 per hour regardless of the type of labor involved
    Unless he's a very good friend that will repay you some how, Charge him
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  10. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Lake of the Ozarks MO


    Lots of good answers here. All valid. I like Fat Fabs but as was pointed out you did spend way to much time on this. The second time rule would be your saving grace. He's in florida and doesn't know how you spent time reworking and thinking.
    I get in these deals from time to time because I PUSH myself into them. I want to find new horizons frequently. That is what I love about my job. I've been a factory worker more than once and even went back to two different ones in the last 2 years just to revisit slave labor!
    Even if you only charged $500 could you have made that this week at your old job?
    I have a friend I just did a bunch of weekend work for on his GTO and I still charged him enuff that he will only use me when he's serious if you know what I mean.
    As far as it being "worth it" goes...Those mods on a $5000 trailer is worth it.
    If it was a $1400 trailer then you might have a valid point. I see a bunch of people get in business and have too much feelings of guilt for charging enuff. I WAS that way too. My Dad and I had HUGE fights about how I thought he was just plain greedy. Sheesh was I ever an IDIOT!!! You cannot afford to be cheaper than your competition if your work is comparable man!!! I have learned that men love to brag about how much money they spent on something if it is the best...otherwise Cadillac and Lincoln would have gone out of business. I am known as the highest guy in my area and I get my brain picked a bunch but I have outlasted all the old fly-by-nights and a bunch of the good ones But when the work is done they brag that I did it.
    So my advise would be charge him what it's really worth...he'll never know what you went thru ( and don't tell him) and you are now smarter...they don't teach that crap in any school.
    If you do those things and learn from it you will become a fine business man as well as a skilled craftsman. Good luck friend.
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