How to Bid on a Job

When you bid on a contracting job, you should never tell the customers that you will work for a simple hourly rate like ten dollars an hour. First, check out the job and consider all the extra options that a customer might want.

When painting a room, for example, measure the room first and see how much paint you will need, along with brush, roller, pan, tarp, and other supplies. Then ask if the owner wants additional services, such as repairing any holes in the wall. Don't forget to ask how many coats of paint should be applied. Then check to see if the ceiling will need to be done. For ten dollars an hour in labor costs, you need to figure how long it will take so you can estimate labor with the cost of materials. The job might average fifteen dollars per hour, or you can specify a ten- dollar hourly rate, with materials costing extra. Be careful not to underbid the work, or you will have to make up the shortfall.

Another area for agreement is availability and start date. Will someone be home or is someone going to give you a key to get in? What should be done with the trash after clean up? Some customers may want you to take it with you. Ask in advance about using the bathroom and sink for washing up or preparing materials.

It is always a good idea to get a written contract that explains which work you will be doing. Also include the estimated amount of time the job will require, along with the date you plan to start and the materials you will use. Get the name and contact information of the person who hired for the contract. Both parties need to sign and date it. Both you and the customers always receive copies.

After you have done a few jobs and learn how long it will take you to finish the sorts of jobs/work that you do, make up a list to hand out to your customers listing prices for your work.  List anything else you can do on the flier and on your bid form, like painting, hauling, lawn and yard care, cleaning garages, windows, and carpet shampooing.

Never bid on a job by telephone. Go look at it. Never underbid the job on the price and time it will take. People are happy when you get a job done early; they get upset it the job takes longer. Always clean up your work area before you leave, even if you are coming back the next day. Dress for the job, and always be neat with your appearance when submitting a bid. Make sure you point out any trouble spots and what the customer might want you to do to fix them.

Your bid should be neat, complete, accurate, and detailed to protect both the customer and you. Go over it orally with the customer before both of you sign, and keep a copy with you while performing the work. The bid will become the basis for a finished bill or invoice.