Why I Don’t (usually) Do Project Plan Cost Estimates


I have occasionally included cost estimates for my project plans, but it’s a practice I’m pretty much going to stop unless I’m designing a project for a corporate client.

There are several reasons why:

1 Lumber

A particular board in Alabama might not cost the same in Georgia, Illinois, or North Carolina. I actually know that for a fact, having purchased lumber for projects in each of those states. When building my projects, many folks often choose whichever lumber they prefer, or more often the case, what they have on hand. And I’m also not about to start doing conversions for folks in other countries, much as I love you guys. (I have readers visit my site from more than 120 countries).

2 Supplies

This is always a tricky one to figure. Do I assume you have a full package/box of the fasteners I recommend? Do you need to buy primer, paint, stain, poly, etc.? What about glue? I could omit all of this, but you’re not getting a true estimate of what it’s really going to cost you. In the plans I create for corporate clients, I figure the cost assuming you have to buy everything needed for the project excluding…

3 Tools and Accessories

You don’t have a 1 1/4-inch Forstner bit, but my plan calls for it. You really like the project, so you buy the bit. BANG – you just increased the cost of the project. HOWEVER – this isn’t a bad expense because now you have added to your tool arsenal.

4 Taxes

They range all over the place, and aren’t they part of the cost as well?

I know a lot of folks factor in the cost of a project when deciding to do it, but I’d rather not mislead anyone with unrealistic expectations. Besides, you guys are smart enough to figure it out for yourself.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. that’s OK with me. If you wanted to include the cost of the project in your area, that would be alright too.

  2. I would agree with the other comment, I would suggest still doing a “basic” cost for what you did it for. Not so much to start a fight for those of us that have to pay more for lumber or screws, but so we have a baseline on a particular project. I occasionally look at costs prior to making a decision on whether to pursue it now or possibly later. just my 2 cents

    • I appreciate the comments. I worry, and I’ve seen this MANY times particularly with the projects I’ve done for Lowe’s, is that it’ll start a comment line on the accuracy of my cost estimates. Folks seem to get real nasty about it. My DIY Network projects, however, offer a cost range, which I like better. I could see a concession on my end for something like that.

      • yeah, seems like this day and age everyone needs a “DISCLAIMER: YOUR COSTS MAY VARY BASED ON LUMBER CHARGES IN YOUR REGION AND HOW STUPID YOU ARE WITH NITPICKING MY COSTS” or something like that, lol, sorry, couldn’t resist. If I saw someone post costs at $40 for a project and I did it and it cost $500…. I might be upset, lol, but if it gives a baseline I think that would work 🙂

  3. Ha! I like that disclaimer – might have to use that…maybe on April 1…

  4. That is fine! I appreciate what you do do. Fred

  5. The most important thing for me is number of pieces of lumber to have on hand. Costs in my area differ from store to store so hard to give accurate amount of cost. If I know how many pieces to buy I can figure out my costs.I also give most of what I make away ( give to church sales etc.) so cost don’t bother me as much.


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