I am starting a handyman service business-basically doing small carpentry projects and home repairs. Recently a homeowner asked me to replace the plywood sub-floor in his kitchen and install some new sheet vinyl. I have never done this type of project before-any tips on completing the work or any idea how much I should charge for this service?
john ~ Minden, Louisiana
Hi John. One of the most difficult parts of starting in the remodeling industry is determining how much labor is required for each project. Proficiency at estimating materials normally comes fairly quickly and after a few months of operating your handy man services business, you may feel confident in your ability to handle that end of the operation. However, experience is the best teacher when it comes to computing the amount of labor required for a job and there are also some estimating tools that can come in handy.
The first rule of thumb when estimating labor is to always make a job-site visit. Every project is different and even something seemingly as insignificant as whether you can park close to the home being worked on or have to leave your truck 1/4 mile away can make a big difference in the pricing for the job.
My first question for your current project would be why the sub-floor needs to be replaced? When installing vinyl flooring, a thin plywood underlayment is normally installed over the sub-floor to correct any imperfections. If the sub-floor has to come out, there's a good chance all of the kitchen cabinets will have to come out first and that can be very labor intensive. I suggest inspecting the kitchen and if any sub-flooring repairs are necessary, replace sections rather than the entire room. Even major kitchen remodeling projects rarely require that the sub-floor plywood be totally replaced.
As far as pricing, R.S. Means has a collection of estimating manuals that should be on the shopping list for any handy man services company. Their pricing guidelines are based on national averages so some adjustments might need to be made for your particular region. They estimate that taking up plywood sub-floor should be priced at about $1.40 per square foot. Replacing that 3/4 inch sub-floor should be priced at about $.40 a foot. Their national average cost for installing 3/8 inch plywood underlayment with a pneumatic nailer is about $.40 a square foot and installing sheet vinyl is in a range of about $1.30 to $1.60 per foot. None of these prices include any materials so they should be added if your company is supplying them. You should also add your profit and overhead percentage to the figures.
Good luck with your new company and don't get discouraged if you lose a little money on labor during your first couple of projects -- it's a part of the learning process.