A new shop in the making #5: The search for a framer - the struggle begins

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Bob #2 posted 05-28-2008 06:03 PM 1342 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Marking out the site Part 5 of A new shop in the making series Part 6: The building progresses and sketch up is harnessed »

For the past week I’ve been attempting to engage a contractor/framer to build out the structure of my small woodshop.
The labor market is tight here so the chioces are slim to none with the odd goof and or crook tossed in to keep me on my toes. <g>
One fellow showed up (having no credentials) and suggested that he could not obtain a bond or insurance for the job.
He contacted me by e-mail and offered to come by on Sunday to finalize his estimate and provide me with a time frame. I asked him to please call me so that I would not have to wait around for the entire day for him to show up.
When he finally did phone on Monday morning, he told me that his children were very important to him and that he couldn’t spare the time for me on the weekend.
I explained to him that it was not my idea and that a simple phone call to me, would have placed me in a better frame of mind for his call 72 hours later.

BTW, he offer to dig the 12 post holes for the grade beams but did not show so I did that myself while waiting for the call that never came.

I found him quite contrary in nature, and after he stood me up over the weekend with respect to the second meeting to finalize our mutual costs I let him go.

The next fellow called me two days after I contacted him by e-mail at his advertising address on the Internet.
The total footprint for the shop is 360 ft.² (roughly the size of a single car garage with a small extension.)
He explained to me on the telephone that the basic cost of a garage today was in the neighborhood of $6,000, and that he felt his partto assemble this construction would also be in the neighborhood of $6,000.

I sent him Sketchup drawings of the proposed design along with the size and my exterior requirements.

Now this is where I have a problem with the mathematics that is being used today to estimate costs of construction:
I am well aware that the cost of building materials and crude oil related products has escalated dramatically in the last three years crude oil related products have definitely doubled in that timeframe.
It’s pretty safe to say that although labor has increased that it has not increased at the same rate that the building materials have.
So to ask me for $6,000 for a job that three years ago would have cost $3000 is a dramatic increase. If you wish to do the math on this particular project you will find that if you divide 384 ft.² into the total package price you will come up with a figure called $332.40 per square footI had previously got an estimate of materials from a lumber supplier ( $1950)
This figure does not include electrical, plumbing or heating.
I was appalled when I told the gentleman that absolute highway robbery people like this gives the trades a bad name.

The battle continues…


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

12 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3986 days

#1 posted 05-28-2008 06:19 PM

Good luck!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3891 days

#2 posted 05-28-2008 06:26 PM

Isnt the western boom fun?...........they framed my barn, all 4,000 sq ft for 5 grand.

Good tradesmen are hard to find. Pay my flight +...............I’ll fly out and do it.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View ww_kayak's profile


70 posts in 3722 days

#3 posted 05-28-2008 06:50 PM


I feel your pain. I ran into the same thing trying to get an estimate for my new home. The reality is that MANY (not all) contractors pull numbers out of their a$$. Even with plans in hand , I had multiple contractors say ” Well, I can tell you I wouldn’t touch that for less than 250k” . I guess the plans looked like a nice house but if they had done a true estimate, they would have seen it was only around 800 square feet of space? That is usually followed by them getting ticked off that you actually calculated the cost per sq. ft., and that you must want it for free? This was 3 or 4 years ago, and not in CA!

Oh well :( Good luck


-- Tom, Central New York

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3820 days

#4 posted 05-28-2008 06:53 PM

Good luck on locating a contractor to handle the job. I am in the middle of a sunroom addition and kitchen remodel. I just happen to have a personal friend who has 40 years of experience in this type of work and was able to work me into his schedule. The problem with your job and mine is that they are relatively small jobs and it is difficult to keep a full time crew busy with a steady diet of small jobs like this. Contractors would prefer to do larger jobs where there isn’t so much starting and stopping and waiting on the subs to finish their part. As far as cost comparisons go the room addition and new roof for the entire house are going for about $150 a square foot.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 05-28-2008 10:35 PM

Looking at it from a cost per square foot standpoint is going to make your smaller jobs look high. It costs so much more when you are talking about small square footages. A good example is that I built a hotel (Hilton) for around $100 per sqft a couple years ago. That included everything but furniture.

That being said, you shouldn’t be paying $300 per square foot either.

I have a couple questions for you: I ask because I am going to be building another building this summer as well. I plan on doing all the work myself though, so my estimate will be material only.

1) in your first picture, the dimensions are 29’ x 53’, only 16’ wide in the next picture. What are the dimensions going to be?
2) What is the interior finish, exterior finish, mechanical and electrical requirements?

I am planning on an 18’ x 24’ with 8’ eaves, 2-garage doors, windows, vinyl siding, shingled roof, concrete floor.

Mine is going to be for storage only, so I’ll have no mechanical, insulation, interior finish, and limited electrical.
I’ll be able to get mine finished for less than $10 per square foot (including dirt work).
I built one three years ago with a wood floor (12×16) and it was around $7 per square foot.

I don’t know if any of this will help you out at all, but I’d offer what ever help I could be.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 3956 days

#6 posted 05-28-2008 10:36 PM

Just noticed your in Canada. Don’t forget to compare dollars to dollars. Mine are US dollars.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4019 days

#7 posted 05-28-2008 11:21 PM

Thanks Kevin
First, the measurements on the sketchup drawing automatically scale when you resize a component. ( didn’t know this at the time)
This means that when I raised my wall height to 10 feet from 8 feet the whole structure scaled instead of just the walls.
Sketchup is not the least intuitive and I was into it before I realized how difficult it is to use right off the shelf. You pretty much have to make up all the components to match your structure and that alone can take hours.

We are going through boom here in Alberta so that even common labor is selling at $18-$26 an hour with benefits.
Most contractors are already booked up for the summer months and the tar sands are luring away our young people with salaries in the $50-$100,000.00 a year range tradesman double that.
I’m going to finish the outside of the building with man-made plastic siding not vinyl, but a new solid material with a color embedded right in the finish. It handles and looks much more like wood than the vinyl siding.
The inside floor will be finished with hardwood over 3/4” plywood and the walls will be finished with OSB and painted.
I’ve planned an infrared heater, ceiling mounted, and gas-fired to take care of the heating in the winter months and the building will be insulated to R-22 with a new low decibel rock wool insulation to keep my neighbours happy.
As far as currency is concerned, I think you’ll find the Canadian dollar and the US dollar pretty much at par with one another at this point in time.
After living the majority of my adult life with a depressed dollar as low as $0.63 cents it’s somewhat of a welcome relief.
It’s tough to work for an hour and then only get half of the pay then find that what you need to buy is almost out of reach.
The worst thing that can happen to me is to take a week off and hire a helper and put the thing up myself.

I have a guy comming over tonight so I have my fingers crossed.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4398 days

#8 posted 05-29-2008 01:02 AM

Bob around here We have the Amish building sheds that you put in your yard. The are made and trucked in on a trailer. We also have modular homes that mare pre-made and trucked in.

Are any of those options available/

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4019 days

#9 posted 05-29-2008 02:33 AM

Yes Karson, we have the modular buildings but they are booked several months in advance and all go to the Tar Sands.
A modular home up there goes for around $400,000.00 ( 3 bedroom models)
ther is so much consltruction now that theyare ahuling mobies out of the graveyards and skinning them in for HQ’s at building sites.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4034 days

#10 posted 05-29-2008 03:13 PM

I think it’s because you want it to levitate over the garden. You may find more realistic pricing if you remove that component.

In all seriousness, I had an electrician send me a bill for $800 after he hooked up the sign on my clinic. My staff said he was there 8 minutes. A painter quoted us $1800 to paint my daughters bedroom, and we don’t live in the Taj Mahal.

For clarity, Bob and I live REALLY close to one another. The Alberta Advantage is a load of crap. It’s just shoved inflation out of this world and brought out a basic life philosophy of unbridled greed.

I wish you better fortune!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4019 days

#11 posted 05-29-2008 04:11 PM

I have been through these “cycles” before and the anticlimax seems always the same.
The economy begins to be driven by greed and fear then suddenly , almost like lightning, the whole thing collapses.
This time we have been eased into a recession by short sighted policies and the addiction that governents have to hidden taxes.
I simply don’t have the resources to pay some John Doe kind of guy $365.00 a square foot to build me a shed.
He needs to know this not me and… you can always vote with your wallet. <g>


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4095 days

#12 posted 06-03-2008 08:46 AM

Wow. I think the 400 sq foot addition to our house was $65 per square ft.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics