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Frequently Asked Questions
Cost Data & Markups
Where do the costs come from?
HomeTech Information Systems, Inc. researches material and labor costs for remodeling in more than 200 areas of the U.S. and Canada. For more than 40 years HomeTech has provided contractors with the most reliable pricing data available.
What is included in the costs?
The materials costs include everything that goes into the job. For example, drywall materials would include the board, drywall nails, corner beads, tape, joint compound, even sandpaper. Labor costs include hourly wages, worker’s compensation insurance, social security taxes, and state unemployment tax. If you pay other fringe benefits like vacation, health insurance or vehicle allowance, you should determine your total fringe benefit costs as a percentage of your labor costs and increase the labor cost accordingly.
What is not included in the costs?
Unit cost systems allow you to estimate standard work very quickly and accurately. But that is only about 90% of a good detailed bid. You need to apply a judgment analysis to any estimate to reflect special conditions. You should adjust your bid based on the following:
Project Analysis: If there are unusual characteristics to the job such as a tricky roof tie-in or difficult materials matching, increase the job costs.
Job conditions: Difficult conditions such as poor access, little or no storage, high risk of theft, etc., should be reflected in increased job costs.
Customer Analysis: Approximately one out of five customers will be unusually demanding, and can cost you all the profit on a job unless you recognize them for what they are and increase your estimate to allow you to satisfy them and still make a profit.
Company Capability: Certain kinds of work may be easier or harder than usual for your workers; your estimate should be adjusted to reflect that. If you will need to hire more people or pay overtime in order to do a particular job, your increased costs should be reflected in your estimate.
What about sub-contractors?
The prices listed for items relating to plumbing, heating, electrical, roofing, masonry, painting, machine excavation, asphalt paving, marble and ceramic tile and blown-in insulation reflect the prices that subcontractors would be expected to charge general contractors for the work, including the sub contractors’ overhead and profit.
The prices seem high to me. How do I know the prices are right for my area?
The numbers are based on our research of what it actually costs contractors to complete the tasks involved. We include factors for waste and inefficiencies that are a part of any remodeling job—like set-up and layout time, time spent at the lumberyard and coffee breaks. Our prices are designed to ensure that a contractor can make a profit in the real world, but there is no substitute for verifying an estimate against actual job costs.
We recommend that you complete an estimate using our system for a job that you have already completed and then compare your actual job costs overall with the estimate produced on CostEstimator.com. You can always create a custom item or adjust prices if you need to.
I can’t sell jobs at a 50% markup. The competition in my area won’t allow it.
You can change the markup on the cost sheet if you want to but we strongly recommend against it. Most contractors go out of business because they don’t charge enough. A 50% markup works out to a 33% gross profit and if you include the true costs of managing a remodeling business, you will be lucky to end up with a 5-7% net profit.
I’m only closing 1 out of every 4 jobs I bid. What’s wrong?
There will always be contractors offering to do work at a lower price. The odds are that most of them will not be in business very long. You need to provide value to your potential clients beyond just a low price. The quality of your work and your professionalism justify a higher price than the low bid. The key is to complete estimates quickly and accurately and with a high enough margin that you make a profit. If you are charging enough you should only expect to close 1 of every 3 or 4 bids.
What is CostEstimator.com?
CostEstimator.com is the easiest, most accurate estimating system available for professional remodeling contractors. Using this system, thousands of contractors have discovered how to estimate remodeling jobs quickly and accurately. Even large projects that would take days to estimate using other methods can be completed in a few hours using CostEstimator.com. With a little practice, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try this sooner.
What’s different between CostEstimator.com and other estimating systems?
CostEstimator.com was developed by HomeTech and includes a complete remodeling database with prices adjusted for your local area based on the zip code entered in your company information. The prices for each area are automatically updated quarterly. We’ve kept the system as simple as possible so there’s no long learning curve to master. Easy-to-use and reliable, localized costs make CostEstimator.com unique.
How is the database organized?
HomeTech has developed the estimating system by dividing the database into 25 divisions that correspond to the way remodelers work. The 25 divisions start with Plans and Permits followed by Tear-out, Excavation, Concrete, Masonry, Floor Framing, etc., all the way to Division 25, Clean-up. These 25 divisions are listed along the left side of the page when you are building an estimate. When you click on a division, a list of subdivisions open up underneath and the cost items of the highlighted subdivision appear on the right side of the screen. You build your estimate by going through the divisions and adding the appropriate items as you mentally go through the process in the order you would actually build the project.
Answer: No. CostEstimator.com is an Internet-based tool. To run CostEstimator.com all you need is a computer that has access to the Internet.
Answer: To run CostEstimator.com, you need only the following:
- A current web browser
- Your browser must be set to accept cookies
Answer: Converting your CostEstimator.com trial to a subscription is easy. Just login to CostEstimator.com as you would during the trial process and follow the link to start your paid subscription. All the information you have added during your trial period will automatically convert to your paid subscription!
Answer: All the information you have added during your trial period will automatically convert to your paid subscription.
Answer: Your subscription to CostEstimator.com is month-to-month. You can cancel your subscription at any time.
Answer: While in the Cost Sheet tab, take a look at the Markups % line near the bottom of the page. We have entered a 50% markup for both materials and labor. You can enter any percentage you choose for materials or labor, then click on “Recalculate” at the bottom of the page to complete the changes. The Project Selling Price listed is the direct costs plus the markup. The Gross Profit amount shown is the total amount of markup.
Answer: You should always prepare a professional looking proposal to give to your potential client. You can download the bid sheet or cost sheet to your word processor and edit it as you see fit, add your logo and print it on letterhead as you would any other word processing document.
Your contract proposal should consist of three parts:
- 1. A section that describes the project in general and specifies the start and finish dates and the financial terms.
- 2. A section that includes the project specifications
- 3. A section that covers general terms and conditions.
The bid sheet produced using CostEstimator.com can be used as the project specification section and clearly specifies the work you are proposing to do under the contract.
Answer: The procedure to download the Bid Sheet or Cost Sheet is as follows.
- 1. From the Bid Sheet or Cost Sheet, Click on Print Bid Sheet or Print Cost Detail.
- 2. With your cursor at the top of the Print Window which opens up, hold down the left mouse key and drag the cursor to the bottom of the Print Window to highlight all the text in the Print Window. Or click on Edit and then Select All to accomplish the same thing.
- 3. Left-click your mouse and click on Copy. Or click on Edit at the top of the Print Window and click on Copy.
- 4. Minimize all open windows and from your desktop open your word processor.
- 5. Place your cursor at the top of a new blank document, left click your mouse and click on Paste. Or from the word processor’s command bar click on Edit and then Paste to accomplish the same thing.
You have now downloaded the Bid Sheet or Cost Sheet and you can edit, print, save it to your hard drive or email it as you would any other word processing document.