The three most common methods used for estimating decorative wall finishes are:
- Actual time quote
- Square foot quote
- Flat fee quote
There are advantages and disadvantages of using each method that we are going to analyze.
ACTUAL TIME QUOTE
This method comes handy when the parameters of the project are difficult to determine. Like when you need to repair a faux finish done years ago and need to match faded over time colors and to figure out details of the technique used by the artist. Our company use Actual time quote method as an exception, since clients often feel uncomfortable with an open ended quote.
This estimating method is preferred by inexperienced faux finishers, when they can't figure out how much time they are going to spend on a project.
SQUARE FOOT QUOTE
Square foot price for faux finishes is determined based on sample-making or on-the-job experience. To come up with the number you need to find out how many square feet of a particular technique can be done by an artisan in an average working day. Than daily billing rate is divided by this figure. Resulting number is a square foot price.
This estimating method is preferred by architects and commercial builders.
FLAT FEE QUOTE
Flat fee quote is the most useful and precise method for estimating faux finishing projects.
All surfaces to be faux finished have to be carefully measured. Openings in walls, such as doors and windows, are usually not subtracted from measurements because of the extra time it takes to protect and work around them.
Square foot measurements are than multiplied by square foot price established for each finish. This number is than adjusted according to the circumstances on a particular project.
Following factors add to the cost of the project: work from scaffolding and it's rent, parking, travel expenses, floor painting, ceiling painting, carved surfaces, hard to reach areas, working in furnished or carpeted areas...
Other factors can bring the cost of the project down: flat unbroken surfaces, using one type of finish in a large area, working in unfurnished areas, working with experienced client or designer...
On some projects preparing an Estimate becomes an art. Here is an example from my personal experience.
I had to estimate a 28,000 sq. ft. Mansion in Bernardsville, NJ. Every single room of the house was beautifully decorated with moldings of different width and style, coffered ceilings and medallions. My commission was to finish all this woodwork with antiquing and gold highlights finish and to do some faux finishes and plasters on walls and ceilings.
I figured that using measurements and mathematical methods would take me several days that I didn't have. So I measured just some key areas as a reference and than walking from room to room I visualized working process and figured out how many days the project would take.
By the end of the project I was off for about $3,000 which is perfectly acceptable for such a large project.