How Much To Charge?

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Bob Carreiro

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Bob
Another struggle for me.

A friend is remodeling an older home from studs out, adding a huge addition, replacing HW floors, roof - the works. I have done work for his commercial marine supply business before (a couple of thousand dollars worth) and currently have some repeat work to do for him for nearly the same amount. I charged him as I would any business, minus 10-20% because he is a friend. He asked my opinion on kitchen cabs to save some money and I suggested he buy the box store's unfinished line. After a week of discussing the kitchen workload with his wife (he's got a lot in the fire, plus running his business) he asked if I would do the job (he expects to pay me). Thus my delema - how should I charge him?

The job: layout/select the (above) cabs, modify where necessary, apply the finish and do the install (minus counter-tops - granit). Mind you, some extensive "modifying" needs to be done to a few cabs, plus the island will be two-teired - wrapped with a 16" wide elevated serving bar 44" high - their idea, my design. The L-shaped island's short leg will house a 12 deep dual glass-doored lit 2-shelfed cab reveal.

I'm tracking my hours and expect to end up around 70 hrs (+/-). He's my friend and with that in mind, I 'd be happy with 10 bucks an hour (I think)! On the other hand, doing a kitchen in a "one-man shop" (handling cabs - lifting them up/down from tables, moving them around - with my back - I'm a young 59), I "twitch" thinking about such low compensation. Also, my wife is not so "enthused" with so much of my time for such a low wage. I routinely receive $25-35 per/hr over expenses. Even on accidental "under-charged" jobs, I average at least $20.

So what do you think? I'm struggling. I thought of telling him I'd be happy with multiplying my hours by 10, but would ultimately leave the amount to him. Is that a good idea? Please help me get some sleep.

thx before-hand, and happy WWing,
Bob
 

AmishWarlord

New User
Mitch
I reloaded 2,500 rounds of ammo for a friend. On single stage press, 4 die changes, 10,000 times pulling the lever and handling each shell. I worked 4 hours a day loading 500 rounds a day for 5 days. Took 20 hours of work. I just charged him for materials because he's a friend.

Few months later I needed to have the driveway paved. This friend owns a paving company. He charged me full price as he would any other customer.

Lesson learned.
 

jerrye

Jerry
Corporate Member
I reloaded 2,500 rounds of ammo for a friend. On single stage press, 4 die changes, 10,000 times pulling the lever and handling each shell. I worked 4 hours a day loading 500 rounds a day for 5 days. Took 20 hours of work. I just charged him for materials because he's a friend.

Few months later I needed to have the driveway paved. This friend owns a paving company. He charged me full price as he would any other customer.

Lesson learned.
I personally would lean more toward Mitch's view, especially if this work will take time away from how you earn a living. Would I discount a friend? Maybe. Is it taking advantage of the friendship to charge full price? No, because they can go elsewhere if they don't like something. It is more likely that you would be the one taken advantage of.

Speaking for myself, I would be more likely to pay full price to someone that I already know and trust, as the chance of my satisfaction is greater than with an unknown.

A former member here with much talent lost a lot of time doing this very same thing. IIRC he stated that he would never do it again, and he was doing his work as a side gig, not his main source of income.

IMHO many people struggle with separating personal and business relationships. I don't, and I make that clear to anyone that I have either (or especially both) relationships with.

MTCW, YMMV
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
I see no problem with wanting to give your friend a discount. But cutting your normal wage to less than half is more than you probably need to do.

When the work is finished, write up your bill as you would for any other client, then subtract the 'friends and family discount' at the bottom.
 

sawduster2

New User
Don
+1 for Mark's comment. If I were to make custom cabinets for a friend the bonus they would get (if I thought they would appreciate it) is extra care in color & grain matching which would reduce my lumber yield somewhat but the project would possibly be appreciated long after he would have forgotten the price paid for the job. In this situation it looks like you are using stock boxes so the color/grain upgrade may not apply. Charge your usual labor and discount on final bill as you feel appropriate.
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
Like Mark said, show full price minus discount.
Remember, no matter what you charge or if you do it for free, you will be expected to provide warranty service. Including coverage for items purchased. A buckled floor can get into YOUR pocket quick, so keep some 'insurance'.
 

Sealeveler

Tony
Corporate Member
As was posted above,a vote for the discount at the bottom of the statement,plus a break on the above % on materials.
Tony
 

dupont6480

New User
Tim
Ditto above. Just the fact that you are asking; you realize you are charging way to little.
Providing the "friends/family" discount will show your friend you consider him a friend and you both walk away satisfied when the job is complete.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Disconnect business from friends. :eusa_naug A business is a business and it should remain as such; you have to be fairly compensated for your materials, time, and craftsmanship.

I suspect that your friend will be happy to pay your fee because he knows up front that you do quality work and you aren't gouging him so he's getting what he's paying for. He can always get 2-3 independent estimates of "comparable construction and like components" for comparison.

Many years ago we used to barter for services: I'll build your cabinets for $, but what'll you do for me in equal $ ? Today's world doesn't embrace that honorable tradition.

Sleep well and pleasant dreams! :eusa_clap
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
This is a tough one. I'd be completely open with him about it. Tell him that you want to discuss the job to ensure that his expectations on what this job will cost him are in line with what you're expecting. That you always have such a discussion with your regular clients, and just because he's going to get a sweetheart deal doesn't mean he is entitled to any less service. And you might want to mention that hauling those cabinets is going to be a back-breaking affair. That normally you'd offset that pain by adding to the hourly rate, but that's not an option this time, and you want to make sure the friendship is as strong when you're done as it is today.

Another idea is to simply tell him you're uncomfortable setting the right price for a friend. That you normally charge $35/ hour for a job like this, that you want to give him a good deal, and you're trying to find the right balance between keeping him happy and having enough cash to buy Icy Hot patches for your aching back. Ask him what he thinks is fair. After he throws out a number, tell him the job is 70 hours, and whether he's still good with his rate. Or make your wife the Bad Cop and tell him you need to charge at least $20/ hour to avoid getting the Evil Eye at home.

BTW, I would be glad to help you with this project for free and even supply materials at no charge, but my wife won't let me.
 

wayne

New User
wayne
I've been self-employed 95% of my adult life.
My take on this is I have to make my living off my friends and aquatints because my enemies want do business with me.

Wayne
 

Bob Carreiro

New User
Bob
Just woke up thinking it was 4 or 5 AM and it's only 1:00 AM! Just read these reply posts and I'm grateful to the contributions, guys. I find it somewhat assuring in that you've all said the same thing. So I guess if it looks like a pig, eats like a pig and smells like one, chances are it's a pig.

Thank you. I will do as has been suggested: generate a bill as I normally would and make a 10-20% deduction at the bottom.


happy WWing,
Bob

PS: Have never finished Oak kitchen cabinets in a blue colored semi-transparent stain before (or any cabinet for that matter). I'll post the finished product when completed.
 

AmishWarlord

New User
Mitch
Yeah Bob, these guys are great!

I wish I had known that way of pricing stuff before.

Maybe I'd had gotten a better deal on the driveway if my friend had seen the (-$400 Friends+Family discount) on an invoice.
 

Bob Carreiro

New User
Bob
Re: How Much To Charge? Photos Added

Getting ready to install tomorrow.​



With these latest pics (the last 3 are from tonight - the others from yesterday) the uppers are already loaded into the trailer outside the shop. Tomorrow, I'll have help from my friend, who is also the customer, to load the bottoms and island into the trailer as well. Will take final pics when I get all the cabs loaded in the trailer.​



I have 135 hrs racked up so far - everything from initial design, to traveling for purchases, and endless clean-ups/rearrangments in my small extended 2-car garage shop - NO CARS ALLOWED!​



Thx for looking - and helping me solve the "How much do I charge a friend" issue. I'll talk more about this next post. (It would probably be best to view these from my gallery).​



Happy WWing,​

Bob




























 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
Looks like an excellant job from here. I haven't seen Williamsburg Blue in a long time and I think it's a classic. My shutters started life (1972) in W-Blue.

Good work.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Very nice job. It's apparent that you had your hands full with the scope of this project. I think that your friend will be happy with this new addition. :icon_cheers
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
figure the job at 35 an hour. Show hjim that number as the "normal rate" ( which is LOW for that quality and type of work) Finish work is more time costly than making the darn things.
Then take you hours @10 bucks an hr, Subtract that, SHOW it as a discount That is what you think would be a fair price for all your effort. :gar-Bi
 
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