Question: How to give a quote to family\friends

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Forum topic by Zuki posted 10-01-2007 01:04 AM 3538 views 3 times favorited 46 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1404 posts in 4071 days

10-01-2007 01:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pricing quote family friends

DW’s Aunt V has taken a shine to the bed frame that I made for me and DW when we moved into out new home 4 years ago. She would like a quote on having me build 2 – one for her son and one for her an Uncle J.

Costing the materials is pretty straight forward . . . but the time is my challenge.

Do I gustimate an amount of time and multiply by $x.xx hr or do I say “Hmmm . . . I think I will charge this amount?”

Im a little stumped ?

What complicates matters a little more is that Aunt V SQUEEZES every $0.05 until she get $0.10 so I guessing what ever price I come back with will be outrageous as she will say “I could buy a bedframe (not like mine) for less than that.”

Thoughts ?

-- BLOG -

46 replies so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#1 posted 10-01-2007 01:15 AM

I can’t help you with the pricing .. actually there is a great discussion on one of Don's postings re: the box he made for someone.

my question is: what will you do if she says (or “WHEN” she says) that she can get them cheaper at the store? Are you going to make the beds for her anyway or are you going to stick to your guns and to the quote that you come up with?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Neal Meyers Jr's profile

Neal Meyers Jr

18 posts in 3904 days

#2 posted 10-01-2007 01:49 AM

I too have run in to this issue. When people tell me “I can get it cheaper at (insert store name here)” I ask them what they want more cheap price and low quality or do you want something that can go to your Great Grand Children? Then I explain to them the difference between Hand Crafted and something that your neighbors have bought from china. Living near Atlanta ego is everything. As for family I always consider how serious they are about having this Heirloom made. I use Cut list to help with estimates. I have current wood prices and look up all Hardware prices and add 10 to 15%. If they still agree and it cost less than estimated I offer a percent of their deposit back or apply the balance to their next purchase. Most times they are Happy with their new Heirloom that they tell me to keep it as a bonus.

-- Neal Meyers Jr

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4308 days

#3 posted 10-01-2007 05:02 AM

Hum…sometimes the best answer is no. Just be careful sometimes family is the Worst to work for.

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Dan'um Style

14172 posts in 3977 days

#4 posted 10-01-2007 05:55 AM

For family you are probably better off giving them away as a gift.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 10-01-2007 01:07 PM

This might be a real good time to be “too busy”. Vague answers are best.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#6 posted 10-01-2007 01:13 PM

My answer to the customer who tells me he can get it cheaper; “If you will be satisfied with that quality of work, that is exactly what you should buy.” At which point I walk away. The simple fact is that I am in business to make a living. The other fact is that I cannot compete with the prices at the big box stores. I can out do them on quality. If the customer wants to talk low prices I send him to Walmart.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View shaun's profile


360 posts in 3899 days

#7 posted 10-01-2007 01:20 PM

My personal experience is that family and business usually do not mix well together. But there are a couple of really good books on the subject of pricing your work. One approach is to calculate your shop rate which would include not only an amount for your time but something toward your overhead costs (rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, tool wear, etc). You then charge an hourly rate based on that number plus materials which are usually marked up.

Because this is a side business for me and I don’t rely on income from it to flll my fridge I can afford to take a little different approach. I mark up materials at 15% and then decide how much I want to get paid based on the complexity of the job. For example, I’ll charge more for a piece that requires a lot of angles, miter cuts and maybe the use of the router table vs. something that’s all srtaight cuts that can all be done on a table saw. Both jobs may take the same amount of time to complete but I will charge less for the one that was easier for me to do.

I don’t always get a deposit up front either. It depends on the customer and the job. If it’s a good cutomer that I’ve worked with before and I can afford to front the materials (never go into debt to start a job) I’ll do so knowing I’ll get it back when the job is done (trust goes both ways). Otherwise I make sure I get enough of a ”non refundable” deposit to at least cover the materials. That way if the customer backs out I haven’t lost any cash and the materials stay with me as compensation for my lost time.

On larger jobs I’ve woked with customers on a milestone basis. They pay me in advance and I work to a mutually agreed upon point in the job, then they pay me some more and I work to the next point in the job. An example of this might be something like a bedroom set. They pay me for the bed, I build it, they pay me for the night stands, I build them, they pay me for the dresser, I build it. Working on this basis I have no problem giving the customer what I’ve been paid for if they back out of the job mid point because I’m making sure that the milestone payments include any profit I intended to make up to that point. When I’m doing this I also offer to e-mail pictures of the project to the customer on a weeky basis so they can see the progress. Once a milestone has been reached and it’s time for a payment, I invite them to the shop to see the work in person, this also provides them a convienent opportunity to hand me a check ;)

Pricing and payment is really all about what works for you and the customer, being flexible has landed me a couple of jobs that I otherwise would not have gotten.

One thing I do not do is charge the customer for my mistakes. Let’s say I need some more wood because I did something silly like cut a board to short, that’s my problem not the customer’s.

Oh ya – and evrything Tom said….

-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#8 posted 10-01-2007 01:25 PM

Oh, I forgot to answer your question about how to quote. I figure the material and add 1/3 for waste.I then figure(guestimate) the time. I charge $40/ hour.This is where experience comes in but we all make mistakes here, we just hope they aren’t too big. If you’re unsure you can go time and material. I then add from 20-40% profit depending on the size of the job. Small jobs more big jobs less. That machinery in your shop started to wear out the day you brought it home. It will have to be replaced sooner than you think. There is the light bill and all the other expenses of running a business. Don’t forget that you now pay your own Social Security. And you’d better be thinking about retirement. This a fair system that I’ve used for a lot of years in the saddle shop. If I can’t make a profit, I’ll do something else. It’s just business

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#9 posted 10-01-2007 01:35 PM

after reading the above re: building for family members (and the expected response from Auntie) an option might be to offer the bed at cost with the request that she advertise your services by telling people how much the “heirloom quality” bed would cost normally.
She will be thrilled at the “money saved”, love her family member for giving her such a great deal, and will brag about what she got and what it’s really worth.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4015 days

#10 posted 10-01-2007 02:28 PM

My first questiion always is:
“What is your budget?”
The answer gives you lots of wiggle room.


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

View snowdog's profile


1164 posts in 3976 days

#11 posted 10-01-2007 02:33 PM

Here are a few thoughts, I value my friends and family to much to put the relationships at risk so I never lend money to friends or family. I will either give it (time or money) as a gift or not at all. The same holds true for work (mostly). Since work is money I will not charge family for work and I will never work for a friend for money. I will volunteer my time and they can buy whatever is needed (material) to get the job done.

I’ll say it again :) I value my friends and family to much to put the relationships at risk.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View DeputyDawg's profile


196 posts in 3959 days

#12 posted 10-01-2007 11:30 PM

I found an estimating site and have used it for a couple of years. www.bridgewoodestimator/ You might look at it and see if it will work for you.

-- DeputyDawg

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4071 days

#13 posted 10-02-2007 12:42 AM

All good information folks. I will go back later and digest all the details. I think I have made up my mind on quoting family and friends. I think it is a good compromise.

1) No labour charges if it fits within downtime and with no strict deadline. Do it as part of the “family\friend obligation”. If they want it in two weeks and other projects have to be put aside . . . then the situation has changed. I can use the project to fine tune some skills.

2) Charge for gas. If Im burning fuel to pick up materials and drop off the finished product . . . the least they can do is give you $20 for gas.

3) Charge materials at cost . . . unless it is a gift.

4) If they offer $$$ at the end . . . greatfully accept and put it towards new tools.

5) Ask them to promote me to their friends. That is where I will get the money for my new mitre saw.

Thanks to all who provided info . . .

-- BLOG -

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4057 days

#14 posted 10-02-2007 02:15 AM

Deb there is a reason your Ms Executive Director of Inspections. What a thoroughly Solomon-like thing to say.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View newguy's profile


59 posts in 3920 days

#15 posted 10-02-2007 03:07 AM

I have a neighbor that has a friend who is retired and is a great woodworker. She tells me that he keeps making stuff for her and her husband and won’t accept any money. So now she wants him to come over and redo one of her rooms and she’ll buy the lumber and materials and cook him dinner and such.
We recently went over for dinner and I brought some catalogs and showed them both what it cost for this friend to do this work. I think I opened there eyes a bit but one never knows and I think they both feel that it’s his hobby and he really enjoys the time in his shop. Bottom line is I said buy him some gift certificates for woodworking tools to show some appreciation. Hmmm maybe I’ll start getting some gigs for him and collect a percentage of his take?????

-- Fred, Parker, Colorado

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