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## Estimating Painting Jobs Using the PC

When I go to paint jobs, I still see my competitors hand writing their estimates. This may be the fastest way but it doesn’t look professional. Simply running through the client’s work and immediately scribbling an estimate by hand is cheating the painter out of the best chance of winning the estimate.

Why not submit a professional printed estimate? Many contractors will bring laptops and portables to the job, but I don’t like it because the client rushes you through the estimate. This makes mistakes more likely due to haste.

What I prefer to do is take my measurements, digital photos and notes back to my office. I make very few mistakes when I am in my office. I make my estimate and print it on my custom proposal form. I like to have a 2 step meeting with the client. The first time we meet is just to measure the work, and the second time is to sit down with all the purchasing parties to review the bids and sign the contract.

You can craft your own software if you are so inclined, it takes a lot of work and there is a learning curve, but once the software is done it can save you a lot of time, just in calculations alone.

An Excel spreadsheet is a great help. You can design your own formulas and just plug in your measurements. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate and give you the sum. Then the measurements go to the painter’s cost estimator by Craftsman Books. Finally I import the finished paint estimate into my customized QuickBooks proposal form.

One tool that I use with my PC and my digital camera is colorization software that paint companies usually sell for $10. I offer to help show them what the finished colors will look like.

Initially there will be some time investment to set these things up, but it’s only a one time and from that point forward it will be easy, fast and produce a very professional looking paint job estimate. Computers will save you time and be more accurate in creating estimates. And the next most important thing is not to be patient and not rush the estimation process, because the estimate is our guide when we are working as much as it is an estimate and contract for the client.

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