How much to charge for Crown Molding

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I'm interested to hear from you guys who have actually done this work or are still doing it regularly or from time to time. What are you charging for labor?
I've had a few inquiries from clients for crown molding jobs of different scopes. One in particular is sort of a patch job. They put aprx. 4' corner walls into a square room, making a convex corner that now needs one exterior corner and two coped interior corners to match the existing crown that terminates behind the sheetrock.
It is a 3 piece built-up crown. 1- upside-down baseboard. 2- regular cove crown. 3- small chair rail about 2.5" below cove to give the illusion of a really deep molding.
To me this is basically 3 sets of molding which all have to be done the same, with the same attention to detail with coped joints on the interior corners. All assuming I can find molding in the stores that was cut from the same knives. This is painted white, so I do have the safety net of caulking the joints if the molding isn't an exact match.
If you've read this far :-) .... Yes, this is only about 8 or 9 linear feet of molding. But it has 3 corners of 3-piece compound crown. To me it wouldn't really matter if I was doing the entire 12'x14' room or just this section, it's approaching the same amount of work, minus one corner. Plus, there's the same amount of pre and post production work for this patch-in job as there is if I was doing 3 full rooms. I still have to get there, set up, etc, etc, tear down, clean up, get home, etc. etc.
So what do you guys charge for labor? And what would you charge for this job as a labor fee? I'm only hanging the crown, not painting. I generally will putty nail holes on my trim jobs unless it's specified the painter will do it.
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-MIKE-

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-MIKE- wrote:

Here's a different twist on your question. What would you pay someone not to have to do it yourself. That will give you a meaningful starting point from which is doesn't make sense to price below. Someone with more experience may be able to do it for less, but it doesn't make sense for you to compete with him or her on it. For me (plenty will tell you, who am I?), the price would depend on the number of visits (to the site, to the store, etc.) How about $250 + materials*1.25 ? : ) I think the "beauty and aura" of the room which you have to match would be a factor, as well as location, location, location. How far off am I pros?
Bill
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wrote:

Based on the time I spent fitting crown molding around the wall-height fireplace at my own house, I think $100 a foot might be reasonable ;-)
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wrote:

The question you should be asking yourself is "How bad do I want this job?" If you don't really want that type of job let your rate reflect that. If the customer still says they want you to do it after the quote then you make big money on shitty jobs. What's wrong with that?
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On 12/4/14, 3:42 PM, Gordon Shumway wrote:

That doesn't really help for a few reasons. 1. If I don't know the going rate for this work, then my "charge too much" rate could very be still be below market value which means I'd still be getting screwed but thinking I'm making a killing. 2. I'm happy to do the job as it's right up my alley and something I'm good at so pricing it so high that they'll turn it down isn't really relative to the situation. 3. Unless you do this work and have done it recently, your input is irrelevant to me as I stated in my first paragraph.
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-MIKE-

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On 12/4/14, 3:04 PM, Bill wrote:

That's the problem, Bill. I have no idea what I would pay someone because I've done most everything on my homes for as long as I can remember. Last thing that gave me sticker shock was a new HVAC unit. I have no idea what the labor was.
Because I do everything myself I have this false perception that the things I do are cheap to do because they cost me only materials/supplies. The outbuilding I built in my yard this summer was up neat $7500 in materials, but I would estimate someone would've charged me 30 grand to build it.
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-MIKE-

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Mike ...
One approach is to charge a flat rate based on your daily rate. If a day o f your labor is worth $1,000, multiply that rate by the numbers of days you will invest in the job. In my book, a partial day is billed as a full day if it precludes me from taking on another paying job.
Please note the comments above comes from my consulting experience. No one would pay me a dime for my woodworking (at least no one not related to me : -))
Larry
On Thursday, December 4, 2014 4:47:39 PM UTC-6, -MIKE- wrote:

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On 12/4/14, 3:07 PM, snipped-for-privacy@wizardanswers.com wrote:

I'd take that every day of the week and twice on Fridays! :-D
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On 12/4/14, 4:56 PM, Gramps' shop wrote:

Funny you bring that up as it's something I've been taking into consideration on a few recent jobs. People often wonder why a small job can cost so much, but it's for that very reason. If it takes you an hour and a half of prep and travel to get to a job and then the job only takes 4 hours, you pretty much shot an entire day. Whereas you would probably not have charged any more for a 6 hour job had there been more to complete. :-)
For this same client in question, I charged $125 per door to hang two doors. I was done in less than 4 hours and would've been done sooner but one wall was very out-of plumb and un-square, so I had quite a bit of finagling to do to get it hung well. If he had 3 doors to hang, I probably would've dropped the per door price to $100.
I thought $250 for two doors was expensive but they didn't seem to blink. I know there are guys around who would've hung those doors for 50 bucks a piece and been done in an hour, but I've seen those results too many times. The doors rattle when they close, have uneven reveals, hang crooked, don't hit the stops all the way around, are held to the wall by the trim without any nails through the jambs, and don't have any long screws supporting the hinges securely to the jack studs. I refuse to do that kind of $hitty work.
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-MIKE-

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"-MIKE-" wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------- The task at hand has absolutely nothing to do with the price you charge.
The real question is "How much do you want to earn per day?"
The task is immaterial.
The question now becomes "How many days?"
Partial days count as full days.
Travel expenses are quoted as a separate item.
$2/mile (1 way) works for me.
Time to get a beer.
Lew
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As others have said, whats your day worth? Other than that, I usually try to bid on the high side. You can always lower it, if they sqwauk. But trying to get more after you figured out it was too low is always harder if not impossible
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On Thursday, December 4, 2014 2:16:57 PM UTC-6, -MIKE- wrote:

Mike, this is right in my wheelhouse. This is the type of job I am called for from time to time as it is too small for a specialized trim carpentry c ompany, and too difficult for "Hal the Handyman" of some well meaning neigh bor.
I know you do a lot of woodwork and are talented at what you do, so this is just some helpful (hopefully) info, not preaching.
First, you should be able to find the molding you need from the same run wi th no problem. Go to the Home Depot in the area of town that would have re model/repair/retrofits that would use crown, etc., and you will be fine. T he molding will be in better shape physically, and they will have more of i t. Plan on picking up your molding the day before the job so you won't hav e to go into the store and leave all your tools in the truck. My truck has been broken into twice at HD, so this is ALWAYS a consideration for me.
Second, you didn't say how far away you would be setting up your saw and co mpressor from the work, but I am guessing on a job this small you will be w orking in a finished house, so your saw will be outside on the horses, and if you have a small compressor, it will be inside with you. So figure out your setup time accordingly.
Second, this isn't a complicated job, but it could be harder than it should be if the ceilings aren't right, or the walls aren't at a facsimile of rig ht angles. Make sure to check your ceiling first to make sure there are no bumps, sags, etc., that will make it appear that your molding doesn't fit. You need to put your molding on straight, regardless of the ceiling condi tion.
You didn't say if the base went to the ceiling and can be used as a nail ba se, but if it doesn't, make sure you remember to fabricate some crown nail base before you get to the job if you need it.
Skipping all the factors you named, by the time you pick up materials, clea n up, etc., this will be a day job. Contrary to popular belief, this type of work doesn't support charging for drive time to the job (unless it is fa r away),or any other kind of charges the client can't see. So an hour to p ick up material, OK. Time to drive home, take lunch, go get lunch, anythin g else... nope.
I will tell you how I would calculate it. I 15 minutes per cope on each pi ece, and another 10 per cut on the outside corners. So 15 + 15 + 10 + 10 = 50 minutes a pass, with 10 minutes extra for layout (line popping).
So 3 hours of carpentry work. 30 minutes setup, 30 minutes pack up, 30 minu tes to put plastic on furniture when you get there and for cleanup after th e job is finished. Add another hour for material pickup, and then 30 minut es more if you need to make a crown nail base. I would round this to about 6 hours.
I will skip how I calculate it all, (remember... if you report this work yo u are paying both sides of the taxes!) and just tell you what I would sell it for down here in San Antonio, TX. I know that someone could be found to hammer that molding on the wall for a couple of hundred dollars, but if I were selling it I would probably be in the $300 - $350 range (molding by ow ners). If it was for one of my contractor buddies that sent me other work, I would probably be on the other end as they would make sure I had a clear area to set up and work in.
That being said, when I do work in a couple of different neighborhoods arou nd here, I could easily get $400 for it as they would expect excellent fit and plenty of job site protection and cleanup. If they didn't move any fur niture for me and the house was full of expensive decorations they wouldn't move, I would price it higher.
Just my 0.02.
If it was a difficult fit based on molding profile or site conditions, it w ould be at the $350 end of things,
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On 12/4/14, 11:45 PM, ChairMan wrote:

A lot of people have used the "what's your day worth" ideology and I get that, I do. Being mostly self-employed for the past 15 years, I've found myself using that rational many times. But I've come to the conclusion that it's an almost pointless thing to consider.
Fast food workers are now thinking their workday is worth $120 to them. There was a time not too long ago when I would charge 15/hr for most carpentry/handyman work.
I'm fairly certain that my knowledge, skill level, and experience far surpasses that of the average french fryer *and* his manager (who probably is the only person in the store actually making 15 bucks).
There's an add on local radio for a company who they'll unclog any drain for $99. All I'm thinking is "$H!T, I'll do it for 50!" Anyone who knows how they unclog drains knows it takes about 20 minutes from the time they pull in the driveway until they pull out. You book an entire day full of these and you're living well.
What's a day worth to a fast food worker, a plumber, and lawyer, a musician, a doctor? A finish carpenter? The market must bear that out and I guess I'm trying to get a market survey from guys who are actually doing it. So while I appreciate the thought because I've also thought them, and I know they come from a spirit of helping, the concept of "what's your day worth" is virtually irrelevant in the discussion.
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-MIKE-

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-MIKE- wrote:

You need to get more because this is a "custom 1-time deal". The "analysis" is going to burn you on this job... Maybe you could just agree to $50 an hour, with an estimate of $250-350.
Based on your experience, it doesn't seem you have much to lose. What I mean is that the job is not going to overwhelm you with surprises.
You can and should consider the cost of the tools you'll be using too.
Cheers, Bill
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On 12/5/14, 3:58 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Not at all. You were one of the guys I was hoping to hear from.

I've come to assume that not wall or ceiling is straight and no corner is square. :-)

I'm curious what you've done for this. I've done different things before but I'd love to hear how you do it. I'm being purposely vague to keep from influencing your answer. :-)

Man, I'm encouraged by this because we are spot on in our time estimates. That's exactly (6hrs.) what I was thinking it would take and I was fearing it was too long.

Thanks a bunch, Robert. I was under that, but approaching it quickly the more thought I put into it. I appreciate all the thought and detail you put into your reply.
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On Friday, December 5, 2014 10:55:48 AM UTC-6, -MIKE- wrote:

NEVER! Just some are worse than others. With paint grade materials though , I do little measuring. Almost all my joints are marked/scribed, then cut . Takes away a lot of the pain...


You rascal....! If this is an 8 - 9 foot ceiling house and they have picke d the smaller stuff, so I found some net pics to show my method. If the ce iling and the walls are pretty straight, I don't always use a nail base if the crown is the small stuff. I shoot my crown on with an 18 ga brad naile r with the nail going into the bottom lip. But if the walls are not so goo d as seen by the gaps in above and below the nail base in this pic, I use t he nail base to make sure I get the crown in straight, nail it to the base, then the painters can caulk the gap on the ceiling/walls. BTW, unless the ceiling is really bad, I don't usually nail it as I like the molding to mo ve a bit when the house does.
http://s1300.photobucket.com/user/RLWknives/media/CrownMoldingbacker_zps5f0 0532b.jpg.html
If it is stacked molding, and there is a piece to go underneath, all of the above goes, and I may not put a nail base in if there is a flat piece unde rneath the crown that goes almost to the ceiling. If it doesn't, I put a b ull nose on the bottom like this to accommodate the base piece of molding:
http://s1300.photobucket.com/user/RLWknives/media/CrownMoldingbacker2_zps47 4c4819.jpg.html Your turn. "Hey, I do it like that!" doesnt' count!

Truthfully, you could be out of there in a bit shorter time. OTOH, you cou ld be there a bit longer, too. 6 hours is a good number.

Great! Glad you took it all the right way.
You know, when I started out for myself around '78, I couldn't find anyone that would help me estimate jobs. No one. Not a soul. I was always resen tful of that as some of those folks held on to their tiny little bit of kno wledge like it was the cure for cancer. didn't realize those guys had NO CLUE how to do an actual, proper estimate of time/materials/supervision, an d were for the most part just winging it. They figured they made a killing on one job, not so much on another, but in the end it all worked out for t hem.
So I took copious notes of my own time on the job while doing different tas ks, noting materials, job conditions, how many helpers, material handling t ime, etc. I read a ton of estimating guides and articles, but they only ma ke good guidelines if they are useful at all. More importantly, I learned how much markup went with each trade, and even more important than that, wh at the job was worth in the current market. Today, I do my estimates for w ork two ways to balance my numbers correctly.
First, time and materials, then risk and possibility of warranty, then the pain in the ass factor determined when I talk to the clients. I always add to the price if I have a client that is obnoxious about the days when he " did a lot of work in the field" between semesters in college. Of the guy t hat is retired and wants to sit in a lawn chair and watch me work and ask q uestions all day. Or the lady that has an immaculate house filled with bri c brac that is easily broken.
Second, I determine what the market price is on a job. For example, I have a sewer test that I will have done for a client on Monday, and since it is in the mechanical baliwick, I don't get to mark it up much after I get my plumber out there. Same with my electrician. They make me money, but ther e isn't much for me in those jobs. I do it to keep my name in front of my client. But if it is my guys I am using on the job, or a guy I know that c alls me (that I know) and says he needs some dough and wants to take care o f whatever I have for him, I can make more money. Now you get to "play" the market. A tip to help you in this determination is to ask the client in t he most polite way after the job has been let what the other bids were. So me will show you, some won't, but it never hurts to ask. I always do, regar dless of whether I get the job or not. Our market fluctuates wildly down h ere, and it is a task to keep up with it.
I balance market with actual, then come up with my estimated dollar amount. But if you do them independently, you can come up with a good checking sy stem to make sure your final number is where it should be.
General wood repair or stuff like you are asking about is a pretty good mon ey maker for me, and a good one if I do it myself. I know what the job is worth. Painting, still good, not as much so, I make my money on wood repai rs to prep surfaces before the painting starts. Roofing... oh, yeah. That has been a great aspect of my repair maintenance, and I make sure all on m y job make money so we can keep that aspect going. I make more money on ro ofing repairs than any other aspect of my company. Starting out in the tra des and learning to be a full charge carpenter, that hurts my feelings, but that's the way it is down here.
Glad to help. I won't always have this much time to reply, but ask away. If you get stuck, let me know and we can email phone numbers to see if we c an get on the same page. Repair pricing is self taught, and the more you d o of it, the better you will get. Sometimes you might find yourself taking a job lower than you want to stay busy and fill up the schedule (ahem...) or you will price the job high for the pain in the ass factor and wind up g etting it anyway.
If you are moving to the repair/maintenance/small job industry, I can tell you that keeping job notes is the way to go. I take pictures of the curren t job, review notes of old jobs, and do anything I can to build a mental li brary to determine what a job is "worth".
NEVER, EVER, do I say, "this is what my day is worth" unless I am planning on spending one for a contractor friend (meaning one of the guys I work wit h I know that needs a hand. For a general public client, NEVER. The guys that simply work by the day now work for me on a as needed basis. I can f igure their time closer than they can, and that suits them just fine. Lear n your estimating skills, learn the market, and stick to your guns.
Robert
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On 12/5/14, 11:17 AM, Bill wrote:

Paralysis from analysis, right? :-) I've been wanting to analyze what to charge for trim carpentry for quite some time and this particular job was a catalyst for discussion. I've been getting more and more crown inquiries, specifically.

Precisely, and these are the jobs I love for that very fact. No surprises... or least none I haven't developed efficient processes for solving.
This is another reason I like to price by the job instead of the hour. I shouldn't be punished by having to make less for the job because it doesn't take as long as someone else, simply because I've gotten quick and efficient at a task from my experience.
And the client shouldn't be punished by having to pay more for my brainfarts or my taking longer to do a job than it would normally take me.

I guess I've always considered that overhead and part of profit. I don't know if car mechanics consider their tools when pricing a car repair, but their tools have probably been paid off for quite some time, as have mine. I will often take a job knowing I won't make any "profit" from it because it affords me the opportunity to buy a particular tool I've been wanting in my arsenal. I did this recently on a job because I wanted a new HVLP sprayer.
Thanks for the input, Bill.
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On 12/05/2014 12:13 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

I guess I'm not qualified to respond given your previous restrictions as it's been almost 40 yr since did any commercial work and it was done as part of overall refurbishing a group of us did on old Federal and earlier places in Lynchburg, VA. We bought as fixer-uppers (long before the term flipping was coined), did full restorations back to as near original as could get and then sold to the rapidly-expanding-at-the-time young professional influx of new Babcock & Wilcox, GE, Illinois Tool Works, ... new hires. I did the interior trim/architectural woodwork almost exclusively but all expenses were fronted up front and profits, if any, came after the sale...being engineers ourselves, we had a complex formula for the revenue sharing calculation. :)
Anyway, I'd ask if this is your source of a living or fill-in/extra income. If it's the former then the question of what your day's worth is the only one that matters...you've got to make your pricing support that hourly rate (or work more hours) to generate $X in annual income that's your target. Divide that by the number of hours you actually bill, account for the overhead costs and see what your billing rate has to be to make it work.
If it's fill-in, then you can do whatever and there's no point in worrying about anything except how much do you want for a given job and tell the client the number.
--



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On 12/5/14, 3:46 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I've gotten accustomed to making sure the wall nailing fully supports the molding because you never know when you'll have anything at all to nail to, like when running parallel to the ceiling joists. X nailing helps in those cases, but I'd rather not nail to the ceiling at all. I never considered the movement aspect of it, but now that gives me an excuse. :-)

That looks suspiciously like what I have sitting out on the garage floor. :-) In my case, it's the leftovers from a run of French cleat I made for another project that I figured I could reuse for this if needed.

> Your turn. "Hey, I do it like that!" doesnt' count!

I haven't done much built-up crown, but I have used a backer on some wider crown on a job a few years back. In this particular case, however, I actually made backer blocks and didn't put a strip along the entire length. I put the blocks up every couple feet as an extra nailing surface for the upper portion of the crown. It's probably easier to do it your way and my instincts moved me in that direction if the stuff on my garage floor is any indication.
In the past, when putting up crown perpendicular to the ceiling joists I would shoot a nail up into every joist. But I noticed on one job that it pulled the crown up against the joists and it amplified the wave in the ceiling. Now I prefer to put it up straight and let the caulk close those gaps. If I ever do stained crown, I suppose I'll either have to earn my money scribe cutting or drop it a bit to create a shadow reveal. :-)

That's all great brain fodder and I really appreciate you taking the time to share the wisdom. Thanks a bunch!
--

-MIKE-

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On Fri, 5 Dec 2014 13:46:53 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"
Robert your advice that you have given out over the years just proves that your days worth is priceless.
Mark
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