As a contractor, it’s important to be able to accurately estimate the cost of a hardwood floor installation project. Underestimating the cost could result in lost profits while overestimating could lead to losing the bid altogether. Here are some key factors to consider when estimating the cost of a hardwood floor installation project.
Factors that Affect Hardwood Floor Installation Costs
Before putting together a quote, you’ll need to understand the different factors that will affect the project. Consider the following:
- Type of hardwood flooring: First, consider the type of flooring. Is it solid or engineered? Prefinished or unfinished? Some customers opt for site-finished hardwood, which can add to the costs.
- Room size and layout: Obviously, the more square footage, the larger the costs. But it’s also good to factor in whether the rooms are above or below grade. Below-grade environments, like basements, usually require more materials and more expensive flooring, so they may cost more money to install.
- Subfloor condition and preparation requirements: The condition of the subfloor will impact the overall cost of the project. If the subfloor is in good condition and doesn’t require additional preparation, then the cost will be relatively low. However, if the subfloor needs to be leveled or repaired, the cost of the project will increase.
- Level of complexity in the installation: If a homeowner wants a unique or complex pattern, like diagonal flooring, then this will likely require more labor and more materials. The same applies to installing flooring on trickier areas, like stairs.
Calculating Material Costs
When it comes to calculating material costs, there’s the obvious cost of wood. You’ll have to determine exactly how much you’ll need based on the room size and layout.
But you’ll also want to plan ahead on estimating the costs of underlayment, finish, sealer, stain, adhesive, and other installation materials. Look at the manufacturer’s specs on finish and stain to determine how many gallons you’ll need to cover the total project. Make sure to buy a bit extra just in case.
Factoring in Labor Costs
The cost of materials is only one part of the equation. You also need to factor in the cost of labor. Labor costs can be tricky to determine since you want to make sure you are being fair and competitive while also ensuring you are properly compensated.
Some things to consider:
- Charging hourly rates vs. charging per square foot: Both of these are common ways to charge. With charging by square footage, it’s easier to give an upfront estimate that will stick, but you could also burn yourself if it becomes more time-consuming.
- Factoring in experience: Who will be installing the floor? If you have someone on your team who has less experience than you, then you may consider billing at a lower rate.
- Using a subcontractor: Are you going to be getting help from someone else and will you need to cover the cost of Workers Comp Insurance?
- Including travel expenses: Will you need to travel far for the job? Be sure to factor that in. Also, if you will need to dispose of old flooring, be sure to include any disposal fees and the travel for that.
- “Difficult Customer Fee”: You shouldn’t outright pinpoint difficult customers and add in this line item, but you should consider whether you know a project or a customer is going to require a little extra attention. It may help to add some kind of safeguard, like a note in the estimate that additional changes or requests will need to be added to the final invoice.
Don’t Forget Additional Costs
Outside of the materials and labor, you don’t want to forget about some other costs that may come up, including:
- Permit fees and other regulatory requirements
- Business insurance and liability costs
- Equipment rental or purchase costs
All of this should factor into your overall price. It’s not just about the materials and the labor – it’s also important to consider your business’s overhead.
Putting Together an Estimate for Your Hardwood Floor Project
Once you have calculated all of the costs associated with the project, you can provide your customer with a detailed quote. Be sure to break down the costs so that they understand what they’re paying for. This can help build trust and ensure there are no surprises down the road.
Prepare some alternatives for when you are reviewing the quote with your customer. For example, maybe they will want to switch to a more budget-friendly engineered wood. Or they initially thought going with unfinished would be cheaper, but after seeing the labor and finish costs, they changed their mind. Being prepared to offer changes can help meet your customer’s budget and timeline goals.
Throughout the project, it’s also important to keep communication open with the homeowner. If you encounter any unexpected issues or expenses, discuss them with the customer and get their approval before proceeding. This can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the project stays on track.
Ready to get started pricing out your next project? Take a look at City Floor Supply’s hardwood flooring, hardwood floor finishes and installation tools. Be sure to join our Contractor Rewards Program for additional incentives.