How to Bid Small Demo Jobs

  • On August 12, 2015

I will start off by pointing out that its difficult to accurately tell you how to estimate a demolition job without know everything involved in your particular demolition project.It takes time and experience in the field to be able to develop a “sense” and natural ability to walk onto a site and look over what all needs to be done and start to calculate the man hours, tools, time and energy needed to get the Job done.

With that being said, here are a few pointers and tips for the do-it-yourself types or contractors and small business entrepreneurs who are out on their first bid appointment to a clients home, office or retail space on how to bid a small interior demo or junk removal job.

1. Size

How big is the space? What’s the size of the load? Most guys will charge by the cubic yard or square footage. Consider charging between $30 – $50 for each cubic yard. Or anywhere from $10-$15/ sqft if you are doing interior demolition work. You can also just decide to charge a flat rate based on load. For example if you own your own dump truck, maybe you charge a flat rate $300 or $500 bucks to load up your dump truck or trailer. This method works best if you are doing a complete demo for a specific space amount or area. If you are doing selective demolition which requires you to demo some areas or parts and to leave out others, this method may have to be adjusted accordingly.

2. How many Man hours will it take?

How many man hours will it take you to get the job done? This will be a “guess-stimate” based on your experience and knowledge having done this sort of work before. If you are new, I would suggest relying on the experience of someone else in the business to tag along and show you the ropes and point out any potential issues with the project that you might not have taken into consideration when calculating your labor. Rule on thumb, you want to estimate for delays and extra hours so if you figure it can be done in 1 day factor for 2 days to be safe. If you think you and your guys can knock it out in 5 hours charge for 15hours of a full day in the event you take a lot longer, you aren’t losing money or having to go back to the owner for a change order for more money. Figure out how much each guy will cost you per hour, or how much each guy will cost you per day, multiply that by how many days or hours and add on top for profit.

3. How Heavy is everything?

What is the weight of the load? That could mean more work for you in getting it into your truck or van. This is an important consideration, especially when you consider some dumps charge by the weight of the items. For example concrete, tile, certain kinds of waste are very heavy. You should put this into consideration when bidding. This may require you to rent equipment or hire more men, or result in wear and tear on your vehicles and trailers.

4. Cleanup and prep work

Can you go in and just start blasting out the walls and making a mess or are you restricted to how you can work? Some sites are easy to demo because the property is vacant you can make as much noise and as much mess as you want. Other sites, not so much. Maybe the demolition is taking place in a business that will remain open. You have to factor, all the prep work , sealing off the area with plastic to stop dust, installing a dust/air cleaner during demolition to keep the air clean, putting paper on the floor to keep carpeting or areas unaffected by the workers boots coming in and out, noise control and the list goes on and on. You have to charge more for detailed selective demo. It will take longer, and you have to work neatly on these projects, so the pricing should reflect that. If you are just doing a hauling gig and there is any cleanup involved, this should definitely bring with it an extra charge. Most junk haulers use an hourly rate in addition to the load charge. Sometimes you’ll be picking up a load right off the curb, doing a demo job on the first floor of a building with very easy access, or anything sweet and simple. Other times you’ll have to do a little more work to get to the site, maybe its an apartment on the 5th floor of a building with no elevators and you will have to take the junk down a flight of stairs. Maybe its a hospital wing and there will be a lot of regulations and rules to follow and noise factors to consider in the project. If you have to haul items from an attic or basement, or it’s difficult to get to in any way, this should bring with it an additional charge.

5. Dump fees, material, Tools, expenses

Keep in mind you may have many expenses in order to get the job done. You may have to go buy contractor trash bags, you may have to go purchase tarps, you may have to buy plywood to protect areas you wish not to get damaged, you may need additional tools such as chippers, maybe you need a dolly, maybe you have to rent a truck or uhaul. Dump fees will also be a factor when figuring out how much to charge your customers. How far away is the property address in relation to the dump yard or landfill. Many dumps charge by the pound, so consider adding an extra charge if you’re asked to haul away a particularly heavy load. Consider how much gas you will burn for your trucks going back and forth. One thing you can do is let  the owner pay for the dumpster if you are ordering dumpsters form a waste management company. This way you only have to figure out your labor cost for completing the work and don’t have to risk going over the weight limits and potentially losing money on the job if several dumpster are needed beyond what you calculated. The owner or person in charge can reimburse you for each dumpster load +10% service charge or you can have them order the dumpsters themselves and go from there.

6. Do you need a permit?

You should know a little about hazardous materials and what you might run into and what might be enforced. Bigger demo’s might require a permit of some kind or if you are doing work in a building  the HOA may require some sort of paperwork and insurances before you can even start. All of this will cost you before even stepping foot on the job as well as time and energy so these things must be factored into your bid.

7. Safety comes first

Wear a mask, and gloves, watch out for nails and other sharp objects, be aware of things like bearing walls, plumbing and electrical, plan out what your going to do before you do it. Don’t hurt your self.


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