by the Artist
We had three big projects going simultaneously over the winter. Which made this winter move along quickly. We are still on the third project- a front porch craftsman entrance and third garage for a traditional rambler.
In preparation for the later start of phase 2 of this project- the front entry porch- we had to keep the ground from freezing before deep ground frost settled in. One day walking Mazie out in our marsh this spring I was curious about what looked like "hay" and smelled like hay laying on top of last seasons flattened marsh grass. I thought.. "well this is weird! The marsh must have grown some really thick grass last season!" Yes I'm blonde.
Then I found out that the hay that was used on top of a heavy tarp to keep the ground from freezing for the porch, had been spread around the marsh by the Carpenter this spring. Hmmm. I said well why couldn't we have given it to my friend who has a farm?... I guess it wasn't fresh enough, but it looked "fresh" to me. Anyway.. along with his "farm" like duties.. the Carpenter has been meeting with a ton of homeowners for a variety of projects. This is the time of the year when we get increased website contacts. I don't know how one guy can work on that many bids at one time.
When a homeowner contacts us for potential work, the Carpenter meets initially with them (along with me if there is design involved), takes photos, measurements, gathers project plans (if there are any) and whatever info he needs to write up an "estimate". He then depending on the size of the project, brings in his subs to get their estimates. Then he gathers all the info and writes up the estimate. This can take quite a few hours. But thankfully after 30+ years in the business, his time instincts (how long a project will take.. are pretty accurate (not including customer change orders for added work to the original proposal). He sometimes presents the estimate in person, calls or emails. Again it all just depends on the time constraints.
We do not charge for estimates. With all the work involved it seems like an industry standard that needs to be revised. And just like any other business.. the competition is steep. He just spent hours on a estimate for a large project we didn't get. Win a few lose a few. The Carpenter tries to assess what the competition might be bidding against him on a potential project.. and sometimes he's wrong. He likes to know what the competition is, how many people might be involved in the bid and what might his chances be to get the project. Sometimes he knows right away that there is no budget for what the homeowner wants to do, and he will use a very rough estimate just to see if the project is in the realm of possibility. If he knows (based on the customer's reaction) that they had no idea what it actually costs... then he knows it is time to move on. (He always asks if they have gotten other bids to use as a comparison). I asked the Carpenter what is the best way to pick the right estimate based purely on the numbers. He said.. "throw out the lowest and the highest and pick from the middle."
Oh and if a homeowner wants to hire Applewood to handle their project.. the Carpenter then creates a formal proposal that is signed and the work begins!
I thought about what to write for this post, and realized that writing about the estimate process would be the most appropriate and transparent, as that is what is consuming the Carpenter these days. Just know that if you are reading this post and considering contacting us to bid your project... the Carpenter will put together an accurate realistic estimate for you.