PRO: The Estimate – What You Need to Consider

Professionals in the industry, I hope business is good and all is well. Looking at the title, I’m sure you already have preconceived notions about this topic. One thing I’ve definitely learned while working for my father at his home remodeling business is that each company tends to do things a little differently. Especially when it comes to the planning process.
Today, I’d like to take the knowledge I’ve gained over the years and discuss the estimate and the aspects you definitely need to consider when you finally sit down and price it all out before you present it to your client.

The Estimate – Meet for Measurements

Now, it may not seem like an important aspect, but appearances can go a long way. When first meeting a customer, it’s probably in your best interest to wear something nice. I’m not talking about a suit and tie or anything, but definitely respectable apparel.
After all, you’re being invited into someone’s home and potentially doing work on their house, so building a foundation of trust early on is encouraged.


Once you’ve exchanged the proper pleasantries upon initially meeting, it’s time to get down to business. Now, knowing you’re a pro, I’m not going to sit here and type out WHY it’s significant, just stress that it is highly-important to take precise measurements. Get it down to a thirty-second of an inch. You know as well as I do that the closer you are, the easier it is to map out.
My father sketches out a rough draft of the area he’s working and jots down the measurements along the entire perimeter, never failing to forget one edge, corner, side, or height. As you know, this is essential for judging the amount of materials you’re going to need. In essence, be precise. It will help you out in the long run.


– Related Articles – 

[bscolumns class=”one_fourth”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_fourth”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_fourth”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_fourth_last”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

It’s also convenient to try to get a basis of budget while you’re at it. More often than not, however, you’re going to hear, “Well, we’re trying to keep the costs low,” or “We’re on a tight budget, so if we can be under (insert amount),” which understandably no professional contractor wants to hear. But, clients tend to stress this rhetoric in the hopes that materials will miraculously drop with one of these phrases or you’ll suddenly be more inclined to lower your hourly rate by being sympathetic towards a specific amount. Now, what you do is up to you, but quality work comes at a cost.

The Estimate – Planning

Alright, folks, so after you get your measurements, it’s time to sit down and really detail this out, right? Now, there are some things you definitely should be cognizant of.
I mentioned in the intro that I’ve learned some companies do this differently, and it’s true. I’ve come across owners that tend to “wing it,” not wanting to overcomplicate the beginnings of a project and plan things as they go. Don’t do this.
I’ve also heard about owners basing their material costs from previous jobs, thinking that the costs will be same. Unless you’re in the business of losing money, delete this method from your mind altogether.


When it comes to materials, you should first have a clear understanding of what your customer wants and needs in the project. Obviously, after initially discussing these things and taking measurements, you’ll have some sort of idea. From there, it’s all about breaking the entire project down in sections and making sure you’ve accounted for every element with each step.
For example, we’ve done quite a few unfinished basements, and the very first thing that needs to be done is FRAMING. So, accompanied by the measurements, he’ll count how many 2×4’s he’ll need, treated & untreated, for interior walls, headers, built-in cubbies, bookshelves, benches, etc. It’s an extensive process, but if you mess up on materials, you can be out hundreds of dollars. I’ve seen it.
Once you’ve detailed how much you need of everything, it’s time to go to your local home improvement store and get the material costs. And this is where you can lose money if you’re not careful. Like most products in a capitalist society, there’s means of inflation. Building materials are no different.

It’s best to get the most recent prices, so if your job isn’t for another one to two months, let your customers know that there may be an influx in price. Full disclosure is completely necessary. Remember, building trust is key.
Now, you’ve got all your prices for all of your materials, and it’s time to go back to the lab. Grab your calculator, some snacks, and a clear head because it can be a tedious session, crunching all of these numbers together and making sure it’s all as accurate as possible. The result should be one fixed number labeled “MATERIALS.” Bam.

Labor/Time Management
You’ve got your fixed rate, how much you charge by the hour, and it’s important that you don’t sell yourself short, ya know? The home remodeling business can be a hard and grueling one. Fun, yes, but 100% physically-intensive. Accommodate for this fact. Now, my father is crazy analytical and tends to map his time down to the quarter-hour. Not joking.
So, much like his material break down, he’ll list how much time it’s going to take to perform each task. When I say everything is accounted for in his estimate, I mean it. Going off the unfinished basement example, running wire is no small feat. Drilling holes for the wire to run through for an entire basement that boasts 24 electrical outlets is no small task.


With that said, my father we’ll assess how much time it typically takes to drill for a complete wall, so on and so forth. That may seem like too much of a breakdown, but this is your time we’re talking here, and you know the old adage: Time is money.
Once you’ve assessed how much time it’s going to take in total to get the job done, you’re presented with two things: A deadline and labor costs. Be EXTRA mindful of the first, people. Understand that you’re going to be working inside (or outside) someone’s house for a duration of time.


Where I’m sure your clients are more than happy that you’re taking care of them, getting their projects done, there is always, always relief when the last screw is sunk in. Because of this, you should account for mishaps, mistakes, inadequate lumber, last minute trips to the department store, you name it.
As much as we’d all love for everything to run super smooth, it’s more than likely not going to happen this way. As is life, right? Accounting for these inconsistencies will help you, in the mind of the customer and your stress levels. Trust me on that one. That way if you think you’re going to need a couple of days to get everything flushed and finished, you’ve got yourself covered.

The Estimate  – Presenting your Quote

Alright, so you’ve got your final number, the sum of your material and labor costs. This is why I said it’s a good rule of thumb to gather some info on your client’s budget. If you’re able to read a room pretty well, you’ve got an advantage.. When you talked price, what was their tone? What did they say specifically? Were they eager to get things going, were they less worried about costs and more about process?
In knowing these things, you can gather whether or not your clients are going to be shocked or pleased at the price. Either way, your approach is CRUCIAL. Be mindful of how you present the estimate for this project. I’m not going to tell you what or how to do this, but it’s common knowledge that when you’re dealing with people, compassion is critical, tone is everything, and consideration is consequential.


– Related Articles – 

[bscolumns class=”one_fourth”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_fourth”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_fourth”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_fourth_last”]
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Sit down with them, and I personally just think it’s best to explain exactly how you got your estimate instead of hitting them with it head-on. This allows your clients to truly see the effort that goes into an estimate, as well as the breakdown of how you got to the price you did. That way when you do deliver it, high-price or otherwise, your clients comprehend exactly why.
Once you’ve told them your price, you’ll know what to do. They may want a copy of your calculations or material lists to see if they knock some things off or make some adjustments. And honestly, this is fine. There’s been many a time where my father has went back to the lab to adjust some things to an estimate to get closer to a client’s budget. It’s all a part of this process.


Be as accommodating as you can within reason. If you can knock off some additions — build in bookcases, recessed lighting, drop-ceilings, a change in floor type — then express these possibilities. Free-flowing communication is tremendously helpful when establishing a relationship with a client. Be personal and use empathy to work in their wants and needs.

I know, I know, it seems like a long list of things to be mindful of, but I actually enjoy this part of the process, especially if the client is eager and ready to get started. Definitely much more exciting. But there ya have it, pros. I hope this proves to be of satisfaction, and up-to-par with how you handle the pre-planning process. Take it easy out there, and stay safe!

Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!

Written By: Chris Chamberlain


Pro: Social Media Tips for Remodeling Businesses

The world of marketing has shifted over the last decade, as I know all of you are aware. What you were doing 10-15 years ago is likely not as effective as it once was.
Digital is taking over the world, with social media the reigning king. While some may think that social media is just for teenagers, others may be well aware that it is an important facet of their marketing plan.
Whatever side of the fence you are on, you need to understand that in today’s marketplace, those who do not embrace this change will soon be left behind.
However, it can be scary and somewhat intimidating when trying to attack this new medium that you may have little experience with. I’m going to give you some social media tips that will help get you moving in the right direction!

Social Media Tips: #1

You can’t do it all.

As far as social media tips go, this is a big one. Choose a few platforms to do really well instead of being mediocre at all of them. One of the main reasons that social media can seem so intimidating is the fact that there are dozens of social media platforms, each with a different niche.
You can never be great at all of them. You need to think hard on this before you jump on the social media marketing bandwagon, because this can be the choice that brings success or failure to your efforts.
Some of the main platforms include: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Vine, Tumblr (or any other blogging platform), Periscope, Google+, Houzz, Buffer, Delicious, Digg, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbledUpon, and many many more. In deciding the platforms that you’ll start with, ask yourself these 3 things:

social media tips
social media tips

  1. How much time or resources can I dedicate to this? If you are ready to fully commit, you can choose more platforms to tackle than if you can only dip your toes in the water. It is better to dominate one platform than to not make an impression on many.
  2. Who is your demographic and which social media platforms are they spending more time on? This is another question of key importance. If your demographic is between the ages of 45-55, you won’t have much success with Snapchat, or likely Vine. These platforms skew a much younger generation. Facebook has an older demographic, while Twitter is popular with a middle aged crowd. Do your research before getting started! You’ll be wasting time and resources if you don’t.
  3. Ask yourself what your key demographic would be looking for on these platforms. This greatly depends on your business. If you are in the Kitchen & Bath category, you know that there is a lot of information that goes into making the decision to remodel. If your audience would be craving information & clarity, you need to know. If they’re looking for design inspiration, you need to know, if they’re looking to know more about your specific business, you really need to know! Don’t give them what you THINK they want, give them what they want.


Social Media Tips: #2

Make a plan.

After you’ve done your initial research on the platform(s) that you should be focusing on, you need to make a plan. If you’ve decided that your audience wants information about product materials & design inspiration, you may have chosen to start a blog (on your website or Tumblr), to share this information on Facebook (The platform your demographic is using) and to share design inspiration on Pinterest (where your demographic goes to get ideas on style and trends).
Here are some social media tips on how to make your plan.

  • When to post. You now need to do research on the best times of day for the different platforms that you’ve chosen. This can have a big impact on your engagement, which is the point of your posts in the first place. Every industry is different, and those that like or follow your page will have their own habits of checking social media. There are many tools online that can help you with this. Sprout Social is a dashboard that will give you key information on your demographic’s habits. You can use IconoSquare for Instagram stats or TweetDeck for Twitter. If you spend some time digging, you can find anything you’re looking for.

social media tips

  • How often will you post? You want to make sure that you post consistently, but not TOO frequently. Those who will follow your social media accounts want to see action, or they will lose interest. There are different “rules” for each platform that you can find if you do your research.
  • Research competitors & businesses in similar industries. This will give you ideas on the type of content that may work for your audience. If you see certain types of posts with lots of engagement, take it as a sign that this audience is interested in what they’re being given. Adjust these concepts to make them your own. This is a “Hypothesize, Test, Repeat” kind of thing. You may not hit a homerun on your first try, but analyze what is working vs. what is not, and adjust accordingly. Doing your research up front on posts that are working for others will save you a lot of time in the end. Take a look at the hashtags that are being used by your audience and tie them into your posts! Make sure you link all posts back to your website, when at all possible. The point is not just to engage on social media, but to pull them into the buying funnel.

social media tips

  • Put it in writing (or typing). Now that you know where you’re posting, when you’re posting and what you’re posting, you need to set it in stone. Nothing great is ever accomplished without a plan. There are many templates online of content calendars for social media that you can edit in Excel or Google Sheets. They will have columns for all the key information that you’ll need to effectively plan you posts. You can opt for a social media dashboard like HootSuite, which will allow you to plan & schedule all of your posts (for most platforms) in advance. This will definitely save time. I recommend you take 1-2 hours each week getting all of your posts scheduled for peak posting time.

social media tips

Social Media Tips: #3:

Engage to get engagement.

This is probably one of the best social media tips. I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying “To have friends, you need to be a friend.” This concepts hold true in the world of social media. It is rare to get without giving in some way. Social media can be seen as a “Cocktail Party”.
When you think of it this way, it helps you understand the concept more clearly. When you’re at a cocktail party, you don’t simply go up to everyone you see and tell them why they need to buy from your company. That would be very inappropriate and in-your-face. The key is to network. You meet someone, have a great conversation with them, and let them know what you do. You become interested in what they do and how you can help them. When that person is in the market for your services, they may reach out to you, as they remember the positive interaction that you shared.

social media tips

They may even tell their friends about you! Keep this in mind as you embark on your social media journey. You need to genuinely be interested in the business or lives of others to get people interested in you. Seek out companies like yours or individuals in your demographic to follow or connect. Engage with their content and share your thoughts! This is the “introduction” at the cocktail party. Remember that this is a long term plan to increase awareness and sales in your business, and you will need to work at it in order for it to work for you.
Once your posts are scheduled for the week or the month, log on various times during the week to engage, or answer questions or comments directed at you. This is key in becoming successful in social media. I hope these social media tips helped! 

In our next article, we’ll dive a little bit deeper into social media marketing success. There is a lot to learn, but if you take it one step at a time, you will find that it not only gives you a great return on investment, but it will give you much deeper insight into what your customers are looking for. Until next time, pleasant posting!

Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets.
In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation

Written By: Allie Bloyd