Learning how to create accurate estimates is a skill every contractor needs. In fact, it’s absolutely essential for running a profitable bathroom remodeling business. Below, we share several tips to help you perfect your estimating expertise for pricing a bathroom remodel.
Having a pre-made price list on hand will streamline your estimating process. Just be sure to update it regularly by adjusting material and labor prices to reflect current costs.
It's important to ask questions about the homeowner’s bathroom-remodel requests and expectations, take notes, and get clarification on anything that is unclear. These steps will serve as the foundation for an accurate remodeling estimate, and will help you avoid any disputable change orders during the remodeling process.
Unfortunately, the two terms are often used interchangeably as if both mean the same thing. However, one is an educated guess and the other is a firm commitment. If you plan to submit an estimate to the homeowner, define what that means. Describe it as a preliminary document that precedes your fixed-price proposal or quote for a bathroom remodel. Explain that your estimate is your best assessment or guess as to the approximate price of their project, prior to finalizing the project’s design, materials and work to be performed.
Before preparing an estimate for a bathroom remodel, be sure to review estimates you developed for similar projects in the past. Those can help guide your estimating accuracy.
An accurate estimate accounts for all materials and supplies associated with a bathroom remodel. These may include drywall materials, paint, tiles, flooring, a vanity, cabinets, countertops, a toilet, a tub, a bathtub or shower enclosure, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, vents, electrical wiring/switches/receptacles, and tools and other necessities needed to complete the project. Of course, prices can fluctuate dramatically, depending on current market conditions – including consumer demand, shipping costs and supply-chain problems. That’s why you should update your price list regularly.
Another tip: Pro Remodeler magazine recommends getting suppliers to lock in prices for 90 days: “Without at least a 90-day guarantee, homeowners and remodelers could be blindsided by exponential increases… in just a few weeks after the initial estimate.”
Take time to determine realistic labor figures based on your past experience and your employees’ capabilities. Be aware that labor costs may be affected by the remodeling methods you use, the extent of your quality control, and any need for overtime hours. Also, consider using RSMeans data as a guide for refining your labor costs.
Not all employees are equal with regard to productivity. Some work relatively fast, while others may work more slowly. Take this into account as you calculate your labor costs. Also, build in time for unexpected labor interruptions, such as supply problems, equipment malfunctions and time needed for problem-solving.
In your bathroom remodel cost breakdown, you will want to include pricing for any non-standard items you need to complete the project. These may include direct costs for equipment rentals, unusual fixtures, or expensive materials such as high-end tiles.
Once a project is underway, unforeseen problems and mishaps may arise. So, be sure your estimate includes a contingency amount to cover these types of risks.
Gross profit margin (GPM) is the amount you add to an estimate to cover your overhead and profit. It is calculated as a percentage of project costs. According to Remodeling magazine, GPMs need to be 35% to 38% on average. However, some years are tougher than others, causing contractor margins to fluctuate. The National Association of Home Builders’ 2020 Remodelers’ Cost of Doing Business Study reported an average GPM of 30.1% in 2018. You’ll want to work with your accountant to determine the best percentage for your business.
Premade shower kits can be beneficial because it means you do not have to do a custom mud job. Completing a properly constructed mud bed requires more skill and time — and, therefore, may be more difficult to estimate due to the custom work being performed.
A CLOSER LOOK AT TWO SHOWER-INSTALLATION OPTIONS*
|MUD BEDS||PRE-CONSTRUCTED SHOWER KITS|
* Source: Floor Covering Installer magazine
For example, if your estimate will be based on laying a vinyl floor and not a tile floor, share this information with the homeowner upfront. You want to make sure you’re both in agreement on details like this before you complete your estimate.
This way, you can create a more accurate labor estimate because you will already be familiar with the materials you intend to use. When a homeowner wants you to use a pre-purchased item, a level of uncertainty creeps into your estimate.
For example: If the homeowner bought a faucet brand or style you have not installed before, you may later discover its installation requires more time than you anticipated. Or, if the homeowner bought a vanity to replace a pedestal sink, you may later discover you have to reconfigure plumbing pipes to make it fit. A better approach is to provide a list of approved selections for items customers want to pick out themselves. Then create your estimate around their selections.
To avoid misunderstandings, consider adding verbiage that explains tasks you will NOT do – e.g., furnishing and installing wallpaper in a homeowner’s bathroom.
A good app will give you the power to produce accurate estimates effectively and efficiently. For example, magicplan is an easy-to-use bathroom remodel price estimate tool that allows you to create a bathroom sketch right on your smartphone or tablet. Plus, you can polish the sketch to illustrate your vision for the project – like indicating if you plan to install a tile floor. Then magicplan automatically estimates materials needed, compiles material and labor costs from your integrated price list, and produces a professional-looking estimate.
This process is much quicker and simpler than writing an estimate by hand, and prevents errors caused by manual calculations. You’ll get a clear overview, make fewer mistakes and never enter the same information twice. Plus, you can create accurate estimates in a matter of minutes, not hours!
Accurate estimates are absolutely essential for maintaining a profitable remodeling business. By following the tips listed above, you’re sure to enhance your estimating skills for future bathroom-remodel projects.
Discover how magicplan reduces costs of your estimating jobs in our free guide:
Slashing the Cost of Free Estimates during first customer meetings.
Or get an example of magicplan's remodeling estimate export that you can show directly to potential customers.
Head of Product & Marketing