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Guest rfitz

Deck Prices so Far

Question

Guest rfitz

So far this year, this is what I have found to be true,

If you go in and bid a deck at $1.50 a sq ft and that includes materials,

you better have alot of other work lined up, you wont be doing alot of

decks around here, and in my area the average home is well over

$200K and the average deck is approx 700 to 1000 sq ft,

you can preach all you want to the customer about quality, this

prepping that, etc..etc.. and bottom line is people will go with the lowest bid, they just dont see the importance of having their decks done right, they look at their deck as a liabilty not something they want to put alot of money into,

they already spent the money to build it, and they dont want to spend a whole bunch to maintain it, I would say a good average where I live is

about .80 cents a sq ft and that includes materials, so as you can see, if we do get the work at that price, the work we do will reflect the price, at least now we do give the homeowner options, A or B, quality work or cheap and quick work, we have pride, but not at the risk of losing work, and most of the time, the homeowner cant see the difference anyhow....

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We've come up against established businesses that are charging $0.58-0.60 per square foot for stripping (oil based semi-trans), and refinishing - cheap labor is doing the work.

Under the right circumstances (where only cleaning is needed prior to staining) we've charged as low as $0.75 per sq ft and made good money, but will shut down the refinishing portion before I go to $0.60 per square foot. I can't provide decent quality service for that price.

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Guest rfitz

If you cant beat them, join them, thats what Im doing, Im just not using briteners, no sanding, using stain on sale $10.00 a gallon and 1 coat sprayed

if thats what the customers wants, thats what you have to offer, I let the customer decide how they want their deck done, right or cheap, and I ask them that up front, Im just being honest with them, I can offer either services

Im not going to pass on the work, I make the same per hour regardless of which way they go, I just make sure I put it in writing so I can back it up if someone ever says we do shabby work, I just give the customer choices,

Just like do you want to eat at a fancy italian restaraunt or Mcdonalds,

I can offer either, offering only 1 set price with one set of procedures is just biting me in the ass too hard, in this day of fierce compettition you have to be flexible, Walmart got where they are today not because of quality but because of price...

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Rob,

Forgive me but I still have coffee in my mug... :coffee:

Are you saying you clean or strip and then don't brighten/neutralize? Are you saying you don't sand? Help me out here....

Beth

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I think that is what he is saying Beth. He is south of me, what is called South County and there seems to be alot more competition down that way. I have competition here, but like Rob was saying, I tell them they hire me for quality not cheap work. He has had a real tough go at it with his low ball competitors doing the same work for beer money.

Reed

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Guest rfitz

Reed is correct,

Beth, I let the customer decide what they get and dont get on their deck,

it all depends what they want done, heck some just want their deck painted with a solid stain, so rather than lose the work, I will give a competetive bid for the work they will pay for, I am getting alot more work when I can taylor to exactly my customers budget, sometimes they just cant afford quality work. So they will accept a lesser job, at a lesser price, that is a win win for everyone..

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Guest rfitz

So Beth to answere your question,

There will be little if any stripping, no britening, no sanding,

and maybe half of what is EFC 38, diluted with a good soap, a little

oxygen based bleach, wash lightly, and recoating with a good quality

stain that runs about $10-$11 a gallon, now at .75 a sq ft you can still make

good money at this, and the customers deck might last a year, but that is what they want, Its like this people only see what is right in front of their face, for example, all these deals on new cars, 0 Apr, cash back, etc etc..

all they are doing is loading people up on the back end, but people only see the front end, what can I save right now this moment, not 1 year or 2 years down the road...? Thats why all these furniture places say no payments for 2 years... People actually believe these hoaxes

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I've got lowballers in my area too, and I've found that with the right sales presentation, and by educating the customers, I can get my fair share of the jobs that I bid. I find it very easy to discredit all the beer-money fools out there who don't have a clue how to properly clean and restore something.

Now, it helps to be marketing in an area that has the disposable income to afford quality work. That's why I avoid trailer parks, older "row home" neighborhoods and such.

I find higher end neighborhoods and higher end condo complexes to be lucrative and people will pay for quality work.

I used to only sell 50% of house washes I bid on. I've made some changes, including a demonstration, and have raised my sales percentage to well over 90%.

That proves to me that the sales presentation is more important than the price itself.

I have had a few occasions where the customer has had stain already purchased and wanted me to use it. Actually, even though Behr and some others are generally crappy stain, you'd be surprised how much better they perform when the preparation is done correctly. In my opinion, most of the failures of lower-end stain is due to improper surface preparation, especially failure to neutralize.

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Guest rfitz

APLUS,

I would really rather wash houses than restore wood, it is just more profitable overall, by alot, what is your technique and chems for washing houses,,? I use Espec Elmus. plus, with some wax from steve Rowlett

and pool chlorine, and I downstream with a 0040 tip, then rinse with the new shooter tips, it gives a nice fan of spray, I keep the windows wet at all times

and tell the cust. if they can to remove the screens before I get there,

I use about 2 gallons of Emuls. plus 1 gal chlorine, 4 oz wax, and some cascade rinse aid, wash each side dwell 10-15 min then rinse, but always keeping the windows wet..

Also what has been your best marketing avenues, to get both house wash's and deck work,? I havent got an ad in the Yelo pages til next year, so I am just using local papers, but that gets expensive, I am putting 1 inch by 1 inch ads in 2 yelo pages next year, hope that gets me more work..? also the rest of this month I will try and target market in nice subs with flyers..

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In my area it is called "the MONEY MAILER" It comes out every two months, and goes out to 10,000 homes.

If you sign up for more than one mailing the cost is $425.00 a mailing.

I have had pretty good results from my first mailing, the second one comes out this week.

Bob

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I give Robert credit. He is a realist and he has to put food on the table like the rest of us.

I leen towards Tony's approach myself where I target High end area's so I can charge alot more and give them in return top of the line work. Believe it or not my per Hour rate is always much higher at these area's because when you think about it you may be doing a job there that takes alot longer and you have that figured into your price whereas a lower scale neighborhood you are in and out much faster but you are not getting paid for your driving around time. It's just another way looking at this.

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Guest rfitz

I will look into that , for next year, too late this year,

the papers Im in cost about $60-$80 a week, and I might get 5-10 calls a week, how many calls do you guys get from the money mailers ?

THX

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Guest rfitz

Next Year, I will be doing home and garden shows, I would much rather

do say 15-30 cedar homes a year than 50-100 decks, it just makes more sense, and would be much more profitable, I would be at the same job site for a week or 2, and have alot less set up break down, pack up time,

unfortunately for me the high end homes are 30-45 minutes away from me, so there is alot of driving around time if I focus my marketing there

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RFITZ,

I also use the Emulsifier Plus and pool chlorine. I add 2oz wax and a squirt of cascade rinse aid to a 6 gallon pail.

I apply with an xjet open nozzle, using a cold water 4gpm machine. I let the mix dwell for about 4-5 minutes, and also make sure to keep the windows rinsed. If that stuff dries on the windows, you're in for a real mess.

I rinse the house with a #9 nozzle, which delivers about 3.9 gpm at 750 psi, attached to an Extendawand.

This formula may not work for everyone due to varying hardness of water in different geographical areas. Do testing yourself to see what works.

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APlus, I've thought about trying the pool chlorine instead of 12.5% bleach, how do they compare? Are there alot of different types of chlorine? The reason I would like to try it is I would think you don't need to worry about it going stail and can just mix as much as you need for the day. Is this true? Right now I get the 12.5% in 55gal drums for a little under $100.00 bucks per drum, how do the prices match up? The problem with the 55gal drum is if I have a slow month for house washing it starts to get weak. Does the chlorine have a shelf life? (sorry for all the questions) Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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Liquid chlorine / pool shock has an approximate shelf life of 120 days from the date of manufacture. That time period is for unopened containers. Factors that play into faster failure rate are extreme high or low temperaturer and sunlight. Once the containers are open, the deterioration rate is much faster.

55 gallons of 12-1/4% pool shock is enough to keep a 20'x36' pool clean for the duration of an average northern summer, which lasts about 3 months. Most pool supply stores around my area stopped carrying the 55 gallon drums as the average consumer has an easier time dealing with either 1 gallon, 2-1/2 gallon or chrystal shock.

We purchase locally from a pool supplier every few weeks and know that it's a fresh batch every time (it's made locally). The cost of having a weak batch is too costly in time consumed and wasting detergent. I pay just over $2 per gallon and the cost is passed on to the customer (it's minimal at about 1 to 1-1/2% of the total cost of a house wash.)

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Guest rfitz

For an average house where I live, I use about 6-8 gallons of house wash

which contains 2-3 gallons of chlorine, and the same for Espec's Emuls. plus

I charge about $250.00 for that size house wash, add another $100 for gutters, if they want them done, because I will spend at least $10.00 in chems to wash them, I use sunbrites, chem allbrite, and I amazed how that stuff works, gutters will be like new, no scrubbing whatsoever...

So on a typical housewash I guess my cost's for chems and gas are about $15.00, and I can usually do that size house in 1.5 hours and that comes out to about $125.00 per hour, nice I wish I could get 2-3 of those a day, I average about 4-6 a week

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Rob,

Why don't you use AllBrite as your house wash?

We've found it to be a very good housewash chemical.

I've also found that our customers tend to present us with more referrals when they see the results of our gutter cleaning.

It is part of our sales strategy to show the contrast of the clean and dirty gutter to our customers and I also use it as a sales demonstration and closer.

We get jobs that others don't get because of the gutters and areas that we can reach and clean - therefore we are able to also charge more. One customer told us they had 2 other contractors that couldn't clean the carbon and mold / mildew off the 30 ft side of their house. An hour into the job, the customer is calling the neighbors over to see the job we were doing.

You should reconsider and experiment with your gutter cleaning, reduce your rate to closer to $100 per hour and you may see that you can double the number of houses you end up washing as a result of referrals. In otherwords, clean the house and gutter for $275 (even if it increases your effort from 1.5 to 2.5 hrs.). Most folks will not feel comfortable recommending a contractor that charges $166 per hour for 1.5 hrs worth of work unless you can WOW them with something. (MY NICKEL's WORTH)

Also from my experience, it can be worthwhile chasing the upscale areas as they have more spendable money. We service a lot of areas that are 45 min. away. In one area for example we have received all the work from referrals. Most homes are large, house washing is $375 and up. In addition, most of these homes have decks and concrete areas that need work. We washed 3 houses next to each other in one week and each had a combination of work such as housewash and deck restoration or housewash and concrete cleaning/sealing. At another site, we washed the house, a large work shop (about 8 car size), a front wrap around porch (800 sq ft), a rear deck (750 sq ft) and concrete cleaning and sealing. In addition, we received several referrals because the owner was WOW'ed by the new look of his gutters.

I would not drive 45 minutes for a half day job unless it paid over $100 per hour as I always like to have a full days worth of work and pay. Of course, I look at long term averages rather then single jobs.

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I use 12.5% (liguid) @ 1:4 plus other additives. What is the mixing ratios for powder? I think I'll run by a local pool store to get a 5gal pail to play with.

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Guest rfitz

Paul,

I never really thought to use Allbrite for houses, what is the dilution you guys use, ? I downstream everything, with a 0040 tip, with the gutters,

I use allbrite fullstrength, with a pump up. dwell 2 min then rinse...

I hate making a house look great, and the gutters still look like crap,

although I alweays get good remarks from my customers, I wont leave until the house is clean, when I say 1.5 hours, Im not including set up break down etc.. Im probably there a good 3 hours, especially if customer is home..

I just havent found a quick way to do gutters, getting out my huge ladder,

carrying a pump up, up the ladder, doing a section, getting down, rinsing,

it sure takes me a while to do them, how do you guys do them..?

ALSO, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MARKETING, on getting work, yellow pages, newspapers, etc..?

I will start doing what you reccomend, sounds like a great idea..

THX

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i dont use allbrite. No reason just have not tried it.

Holly crap $100 extra to wash the gutter's!!!

I charge $100 extra to wash the INSIDES. Nothing extra for the outsides.

Sodium hyd. is the key to cleaning the gutter's.

Just add HD80 to your reg housewash and watch the black go bye bye. Dont let it dwell to long.

I buy BROWN DERBY at $150 for a mix kit that makes 110 gal of concentrate. It's sod. hyd based.

I put 2 gal of concentrate in a bucket with a lid and add 2 gal water. This will clean about 4 house's of gutter's and window trim.

I bought the yellow exstension poll from home depot $35.

Then a rounded head truck brush from e-spec. $22

brush it on[no scrubbing] and rinse with the x-jet.

If i could get a extra $100 per house for gutter's i would make a cheap extendawand out of my home depot exstension pole and use a shur flo pump to push the chem up to the brush head.

This is how the hurricane brush from sunbrite work's.

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Guest rfitz

Ron I have a 20 ft ext pole, and it doesnt reach most gutters, where I live

so I have to get the huge ladder down, most homes here are built on a hill so they have a walkout basement, so gutters are way up there, that is why I charge extra, I spend 2 hours on gutters alone, up and down the ladder, with a pump up, even for the $100, I would rather not do them most of the time,

very time consuming, although Tracy at sunbrite says you can hit them with a deckster..?

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