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Bidding on residential jobs is very dynamic based on the supply and demand of the materials and the labor in the surrounding area. When beginning to bid a residential drywall job here are some things to consider.
Determine Board Area
First: Measure the board area of the rough framing, if the structure is not yet framed then you will need to analyze a set of plans. Discuss which areas are relevant, so you don’t end up over or under bidding and everyone is on the same page. Once agreed upon, come up with a figure of board area of the areas which will need to be finished. For clarification purposes, I typically work in feet/inches, so I define board area as the square footage of all the workable wall and ceiling space. It is NOT the area of the slab, or the area of the floor. The floor area is useful for obtaining the ceiling area, but ONLY if the floor and ceiling are parallel and equal. If the ceiling is vaulted then the floor area of the building is totally irrelevant in your bid.
To get the area of all the ceilings, measure the length and width of all workable ceilings and multiply. The product is the board area of ceilings, note this figure. If you figured the ceilings in multiple calculations (such as each individual rooms) then add all the board areas together and note the ceiling area and be prepared to add this to the wall and miscellaneous areas. Make sure you pay attention to special constructions such as display shelves and custom crown molding or soffits, as these can significantly alter the bid. The goal is to get the area of all these, do whatever is necessary to obtain the area.
Second: Find the area of all the walls. To accomplish this you will need to measure every single wall individually in small workable units (I work with feet/inches, so I work with all my figures in inches). For example, you measure a 12 ft. wall, you would use 124 in. instead. This way you won’t have to convert figures like 12 ft. 6 in. into 130 in later; it will save you time. So, measure the length of the face of every single wall individually and keep a running total in inches. Do not combine the lengths of walls with differing heights. You’ll want to create categories for wall heights, for example. On a job with a few 10 ft. areas, a couple 12 ft. areas, and a couple 8 ft. areas then create a seperate length total for each height:
8 Foot (96 Inches) x
300 Inches = 28,800 Square Inches
10 Foot (120 Inches) x
445 Inches = 53,400 Square Inches
12 Foot (144 Inches) x
251 Inches = 36,144 Square Inches
28,800 + 53,400 + 36,144 = 118,344 Square Inches
Now that all the lengths of the walls have been measured, multiply them by the corresponding heights then total them together. The result is the area of the walls (in square inches). So to get the area back into feet you divide the total area in square inches by 144 (There is 144 square inches per square foot). The result is 118,344 / 144 = 821.83 (Square Feet). Round it up to 822 Square Ft.
Once you have a total ceiling area, and a total wall area. Add them together and you have the total ‘board area’ of the job. You will use this figure to determine amount of sheeting which will be needed to stock the job.
Determine Sheet Type/Style
Sheeting size varies in thickness, length, and height. Thicknesses run anywhere from 1/4 in. to 5/8 in. and even beyond when it comes to special sound proofing board. Lengths are generally 8 ft. to 12 ft.. Heights vary also, generally there are a couple heights to choose from depending on the needs, they are 48 in. and 54 in (4 ft. and 4 1/2 ft.).
Residential Drywall Bidding Tip: It may seem strange at first thought that a standard width of sheetrock comes in 54 inches. There is a reason for this: when determining the heights of the walls and even the dimensions of ceilings, it is quite profitable to consider if the dimensions are multiples of 9 ft., if so consider using 54 in. board! This will significantly reduce labor over the the course of the job. It will reduce the number of cuts and rips needed to be made during hanging process and also reduce the number of joints needed to be finished during the taping/finishing process! Consider this when laying out any job and apply it when ordering your materials.
Some other things to pay attention to while determining board area are the differences in sheeting thickness. For example, 1/2 in. or 5/8 in. sheets? Ceilings are often hung with 5/8 in. gypsum board whereas walls are often hung with 1/2 in. sheeting. 1/2 in. sheeting is lighter to work with and therefore is a little weaker structurally than 5/8 in. Check with the local building codes also to determine any special reasons to incorporate specific thicknesses. Make sure you determine the area of each unique style of sheeting and keep that board area figure separated to enable you to effectively determine the cost of the material and ultimately order and stock the job accordingly.
Now it is time to convert your noted board areas to larger workable units (if you took your measurements in inches, convert your figures to feet by dividing by 12). Once you have noted the various thicknesses, lengths, and heights of the sheeting based on the jobs layout, and noted your figures in larger units, break your board area figures up into number of sheets. For example, you come up with 4,000 sq. ft. and they are all 4 ft. x 12 ft. x 1/2 in. boards. A 4×12 sheet is 48 sq. ft. so divide your total board area (4,000) by 48. The result would be 83 1/3 sheets. So note you will need 85-90 sheets to account for cuts and waste!
Always remember to include fasteners in the residential drywall bid. Determine the type and size needed for the specific job, and also be mindful of the brand your labor force prefers. A typical residential job with standard thicknesses of gypsum board usually utilizes a combination of 1 1/4 in. bugle head, phosphate coated, coarse threaded, drywall screws, and 1 1/2 in. phosphate coated drywall nails. Check your local drywall supply distributor in your area for the price for a 50-lb box of nails. Varying slightly depending on size/style. 1 box of each typically covers approximately 7,000 board feet.
Corner Bead/Metal Bead
Third: What type of corners will be built? Once the drywall is hung, and the taping begins, you will need to stock a specific style of corner bead (or metal bead). There are many different styles and each one determines cost and the method of hanging sheetrock on the corners. For example, regular 3/4 inch round bull nose corner bead means you must cut your sheeting off on the edge of the rough framing (refer to diagram 1). But square bead means you must cut the first side off flush with the rough framing then hang the other side of the corner flush with the outer edge of the originally hung sheeting (refer to figure 2). Another example is ‘Danish’ bull nose corner bead needs to have the sheeting cut back 1/2 in. from the edge of the rough framing during the hanging process, and ‘danish’ is slightly more costly than standard corner bead. All things to consider with whomever the contract is being held with. Whatever the end result is, be diligent during the hanging process to ensure the sheeting is cut appropriately on the corners!
Once you have determined the type of corner bead, determining what lengths they should be broken into. Factors in making this decision are the lengths of the majority of the corners on the job. For example if the ceiling height is just under 10 ft. then you would want to order corner bead in 10 ft. lengths, this way, it would only be necessary to snip a little off the end of each piece to fit them to the corners. Count how many pieces of corner bead in their respective lengths will be needed to supplement your stocking order.
Taping Phase Formula
Fourth: Determine the amount of joint compound and tape to order and stock. I follow a general rule of thumb when determining joint compound figures. 4 boxes of joint compound and 1-500 ft. roll of paper tape per 1,000 sq. ft. of board. The joint compound is then divided half for topping compound and half for all-purpose compound (refer to Materials for more information on the differences between these two types). I then supplement that with 1 bag of fast set compound per palette of joint compound, a full palette consists of 64 boxes. They are stacked 4 high x 4 wide x 4 deep. I rarely use the buckets of joint compound, so if you want to use buckets then you must re-configure your numbers accordingly and your job should be well-stocked. I use boxes and transfer them to buckets for mixing and thinning, this saves money because the bucketed form of joint compound can cost nearly twice that of the boxed form.
For our example of 4,000 sq. ft., I would have 16 boxes of joint compound (or 1/4 palette), one bag of 20-Minute Fast setting joint compound, and 4-500 ft. rolls of paper joint tape. 8 boxes of the joint compound would be lightweight (a.k.a. topping) and 8 boxes would be all-purpose. I use this formula for a job which would be finished all the way through with a hand texture. The next step I cover texture/finish.
Modifying the Formula
Fifth: Determine how the job is finished. Is it textured? If so, what style of texture. Is it only fire-taped? If so, only about 1/4 of the joint compound is necessary from the previous formula (1.25 boxes per 1,000 sq. ft. board) and all of it all-purpose! Or is a smooth finish required? If this the case alter your formula to roughly 3.5 boxes joint compound per 1,000 board ft. (1 all-purpose, 2.5 topping per 1,000 board ft.). This is because one or even two more passes during the taping phase is required to bring the finish to smooth, therefore requiring more topping joint compound, but no hand texture would be applied (typically done with all-purpose). If the job will be finished with an orange peel style texture then remove half of only the all-purpose portion of your joint compound order, and replace with one bag of spray texture mix per 1,000 board feet.
Use the fifth step to more accurately determine the cost of the joint compound aspect of your bid.
When preparing a job, it is always wise to include a roll of 0.2 mil or 0.4 mil plastic to use to cover windows or the floor in various phases on the job, it is not very expensive and saves alot of time cleaning off doors and windows and finished concrete floors.
Also, consider a few rolls of painter’s film and masking tape if you are planning on doing an orange peel. You will need to mask any objects which need to be kept clean during the texture process.
Hand textures vary in labor and efficiency and I typically use cents per feet to determine price of my different styles of texture. Typically, for the area I operate in, 9-12 cents per sq. ft. of board area is quite competitive (depending on the specific texture style and the labor intensity of it). This may not be the case depending on the availability of labor. You need to be familiar with the labor intensity of the particular texture you wish to apply and evaluate your cost based on what your labor force is willing to receive for payment. To become more familiar with different styles of texture visit our Drywall Texture section!
Hangers and Tapers in our area typically make 9-12 cents per board foot (not floor area). Once the amount of materials and competitive labor prices have all been evaluated and the local prices of material have been obtained from the local material supply houses, look over the prices vs. quality of product and multiply them by the amounts of materials needed for your specific bid, and add the stocking fees associated with these materials. After a figure for cost of materials and stocking has been determined, add it to the total cost of labor (cents per sq. ft. of your various hanging, taping, and texture (if applicable) departments).
Your Residential Drywall Bid Overview
You’ll need to factor in job-risk and overhead (such as a clean up crew to ensure your job is tidy at all times, insurance, and long term coverage of tools and vehicle maintenance are just a few things to consider working into your bid). Then adjust this figure based on your likelihood of winning the bid relative to your competing bids.
In conclusion: All this to consider, mainly, do not be greedy, always be willing to work for free if necessary, and do not cut your employees short. Honesty and generosity will provide you winning bids in the long run. Make sure you turn your bids in on the time-frame of whomever the contract is being made with. Residential drywall bidding truly is an art form and takes time to master. Be patient and be honest, this is successful.
Useful Tool For Measuring
Measuring Wheel: Run it along the floor parallel to the wall to count the length of the wall.
Located in Utah? Request my residential drywall bid today!