What to charge for work...

Hi everybody. I'd like some input from you all. Lately I've been approached by several people, usually co-workers, that know I build models. Most of them want
me to build a replica of their car, or some kind of dream car. While I don't consider myself a competition-level builder, I do have a lot of experience, and strive for the very best detail I can achieve. If I'm very motivated, I can usually finish a project in about 2 weeks time. When I first did this sort of thing (build for others) I only charged what I thought was reasonable since most were friends. The only additional cost to them was any materials I needed that weren't already part of my supplies. I've been considering charging a minimum of $50, not including needed supplies. The cost would go up depending on the level of detail and accuracy of duplicating various personal aspects of their cars. My questions to you folks are.... Does this seem like a fair price to charge? Would any of you feel comfortable telling me what you charge to build for a customer? While I don't want to be overcharging for my efforts, I don't want to sell myself short either. Any input is greatly appreciated, and happy modeling!
Randy IPMSer for about half a year now
We're living in a world that's been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. Where are you, white rabbit? http://community.webtv.net/DeepGroove/RandysHomeontheWeb
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Are you doing this as a favor or as a business? If it's a favor, charge a nominal fee. If it's a business, there's no such thing as overcharging - If they don't like your price they'll go elsewhere.
What is your hobby time worth to you? Is it still a hobby if you are obligated to do it whether you like the project or not? I once quoted a high price on the hope that the buyer would be scared off. He wasn't, and was forced to do the job.
KL
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It depends on what the client wants.
Most of the jobs that I do are about $500, but I have charged a lot less for friends and have done a few gratis.
It also depends on how much you would want to keep the results. I'm currently finishing two Yak-11s, converted and painted as my current ride. The owner gets on with the gear up on a stand with basic interior. I keep the gear down model with all of the interior detail. Charge? A good number of stick hours.
Tom
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I'd weighed in on this when the thread was about selling builtups on ebay for multiple hundreds of dollars. My thought at that time was $300 + for a tricked out Panther was small change and that was for a kit I'd built for myself bacause I wanted to.
Having built exactly one 'free' kit for the old IPMS reviewers corps, I found the experience exactly ZERO fun. I did not pick the subject and didn't know much about it.
If I were going to build a kit for someone that I had not chosen to build, it would be pretty expensive.
I figure that I'd charge the $12/hour the school district pays me for extra summertime committee work (knowing that is low) and a flat fee for the sunk costs of my materials.
The base kit and any additional detailing parts or other expenses would be billed straight to the buyer.
So unless I was still on a Panther kick and they wanted one I had just finished.. it would not be cheap.
Which is why this is a hobby for me, I do it for fun, for my own reasons, on my own time.
my $0.02
Mike please remove "diespam" to reply
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, perhaps you've misunderstood the situation.
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (randy pavatte) writes:

Repeat after me A_ LOT :)
Seriously it is a labor of love, and at the same time, it is time you will never get back.
If you are a nice guy, at LEAST $10 per hour of time, plus kit, and supplies.
Me, a couple of hundred for single engine 1/48, and at least $300 for a twin. From there the skies the limit.
I built too many and sold them for peanuts, and (personally) thought quite a few people just took me for granted. After I charged $250 for a Fw 190 D 9 (1/48) I felt better, and the people appericated the model, and me more. This was in 1992. I stopped at $400 for another 190, mainly because the time spent building them, just got to be too great to want to not see anymore of them again...
Remember, REAL friends dont ask friends to do work for them for little to no money.......
But hey, if ya want to be nice, at least $10, to $!5 per hour, plus costs...
Now for retired pilots, and ex military, the price is ALWAYS lower !! (and at least once for free by me, they already paid the price AFAIC)
"Only a Gentleman can insult me, and a true Gentleman never will..."
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I charge $2000 minimum for a 1/350 WWII carrier with full airwing on deck and basic PE like rails and radars...open hangar bay, every PE widget out there, Ms12Mod or Ms3X schemes start adding cost real fast as do water bases. That might give you a hint to pricing, I don't do cars so I have no clue how to price them.
randy pavatte wrote:

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On Fri, 31 Oct 2003 20:26:55 -0600 (CST), snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (randy pavatte) wrote:

A minimum of $10 an hour plus materials and that's still slave wages.
--
Al Superczynski, MFE, IPMS/USA #3795, continuous since 1968

My "From" address is munged - click "Reply To" to respond via email.
  Click to see the full signature.
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Hi Randy,
Only $50? To be fair to yourself, you should at least be making more than the guy mopping up at Krusty Burger.
Modelling for yourself is a hobby, modelling for someone else is a job. Your minimum shouldn't be less then # hours * minimum wage, or else you're cheating yourself. Also, if building for someone sacrifices a lot of your modelling time, then it really should be worth your while for you to set aside your projects to do something else.
Unfortunately, most people don't have an appreciation for the labour involved to building a model and quick change their tune when they hear hundreds of dollars. All they think is "The model is only $15, why so much to build it?"
Ken
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Which is why, if you're doing it as a business, you provide an itemized quotation. Show your prospect how long it takes and why it costs what it does.
In deciding 'what to charge for work,' I'd suggest balancing 'not selling yourself short' with realistic expectations of what your modeling skills are worth in the marketplace.
Start with what self-employed semi-skilled labor attracts in your area. Look at what buildups are fetching on Ebay. Look at what the 'pros' are producing in hobby magazines and online forums.
Ask yourself, 'Would I gladly pay their price and be delighted with the product?' Consider your 'star power' or noteworthy achievements. Assess your own skills and credibilty against these factors. If you honestly believe you're viable, set your hourly rate accordingly.

When does a hobby become a job? If you're just doing the odd project for your friends, you're the judge of what your time is worth and what to charge them, if anything.
If time isn't a factor, I'd do the job gratis for a friend, or for someone I respect. For me, surprising an aviator, veteran, outgoing skipper or Gold Star family member with a professionally finished, customized display has its own rewards, not the least of which is the challenge to do your very best. By doing so, you honor their achievements. You leave a legacy. And you improve your skills.

If your friend is willing to front the materials and partly subsidize the enjoyment you get from the project with a gratuity, does it matter whose shelf it ends up on?
Scott G. Welch
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OSWELCH wrote:

I know what skilled labor of that degree runs around here so I give them a choice $XXXX flat fee or $22.50/hr with an estimate of hours, they always go for the flat fee.

It becomes a job when someone else approaches you to build for them. You're responsible for doing it right and on time, screw it up and you have to replace the parts at your expense. That sounds like a job to me.

In that case *you* opted to build a gift for someone, not the same as someone hiring you to build something. Different animals.

It matters if it interferes with other projects and time for them.
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Ron,
If time is money, how does that flat fee work out for you? I mean, after covering your overheads and expenses, are you really making more than that chap at Krusty Burger?

"If you're just doing the odd project for your friends, you're the judge of what your time is worth and what to charge them, if anything."
A casual project like the original poster described can certainly become a job if he chooses to make it so. Depends on your point of view. Mine would be that the odd casual build for a buddy does not a professional builder make.
>In that case *you* opted to build a gift for someone, not the same as

Only in that you don't accept a fee for the service you provide. I'll do at least one pro bono project per year. Whether modeling or day job stuff, it's done to the same standard as a billable time project, if not a bit better.

"If you're just doing the odd project for your friends, you're the judge of what your time is worth and what to charge them, if anything."
Scott G. Welch
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (OSWELCH) wrote:

Youcan point to the wooden aircraft display models available on the open market, and also the big die cast Franklin Mint-type cars and such. None of them go for less than $120 or so, and you will be supplying customization and better detail.
You need to hear the specifics of the project to set your price to your ultimate satisfaction. Consider a time and materials estimate: It will cost X dollars to buy the kit and necessary support materials, which could get way up there with aftermarket or kit-bashing, and an estimated Y hours at $6.00/hour (only a touch above minimum wage). If it comes to $40 for materials and 48 hours of work, your asking price is $328. If you explain the details behind the number, and the buyer sees why it is so much, you can discourage most people without offending them.
I also wouldn't be afraid to simply say "I wouldn't find it interesting to build that project" if it's something you aren't personally attracted to. Otherwise, it's bound to feel like an especially unpleasant albatross tied around your neck.
Mark Schynert
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I'm primarily a model railroader, so my reply may or may not be relevant. Quite some time ago I was approached by a friend who did PR work for Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Their HQ wanted a display model of a new diesel engine. These diesels had been available in hand made brass models before (at around $800.00), but were no longer available. There was an article in a model magazine on kitbashing one, meaning all of the preparation was already done for me. So I said that I'd give it a try.
CPR bought the basic materials for me - other diesel models that I would need in the kitbash. I kept track of the time it took to build the model to see if the project would be worthwhile, as the CPR might have wanted more similar models. It took me 53 hours from start to finish, including mounting the model in a display case they provided.
I am also an amateur photographer, and took photos at weddings several times a year. I always thought anything I did on my own time should pay me at least as much as my day job did, so I priced my wedding photography accordingly. I found I couldn't use this formula in charging for the model, as it would have been way too expensive. I was making around $25.00 an hour at the time, so the 53 hours would have meant a charge of $1325.00 for the model diesel. A lot of this time spent was in figuring out how to make it.
There was a new zoom lens that I wanted for my camera, so I had my CPR friend buy it for me on his expense account as payment for the model work. It would have cost me over $500.00 to buy, so I ended up getting around $10.00 an hour for my work on making the model. I lost all interest in making any more, although I assumed others would take less time to build.
Don't give your time away. I had been asked in the past by others if I would build models for them, and I always turned them down, as this was a hobby. Later I thought I should have told them that I would, for $500.00. I imagine that would have shut them up, as they were probably thinking of around $50.00. Doing modeling for yourself is a pleasurable hobby, and you don't count the hours. Doing it for others is work.
Good luck!
Bob Boudreau Canada My website with some of my railroad modeling" http://www.geocities.com/fundynorthern /
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After you've finished your first project you'll have a better appreciation of your works worth. Let's say you spend 20 hours on this car. That's $2.50 an hour. Is your time worth more than that? Mine is! Building one model is okay; after about the 4th or 5th model it becomes a job. Most friends or co-workers who have asked for a built model have been happy to pay a fair price. OTOH, if it's for a friend, you my need a favor from him one day (like rebuilding a transmission) so I wouldn't go overboard.
Curt

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And there you have stumbled upon barter, fair labor for fair labor. I'll be 100% clear here, building for a friend that may someday repay the favor is not like building for a stranger who wants model-X with details-Y in scheme-Z by a certain date. Building a gift is NOT building "for someone else", you're building for you as much as the gift recipient. Building a model for a vet at a majorly reduced rate or for free is also different for most of us, we do it as a way of saying thanks.
C Knowles wrote:

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One other thing helps decide price:deadline.
The shorter the time the higher the fee. Movie industry wants everything yesterday, pays a small fortune, then ends up not using the results. Anyone with an overdeveloped ego should avoid Hollywood work.
I usually do vet's stuff for free. They tend to want a simple model in the markings of their aircraft, so time is limited. Nine out of ten want it in a flying mode on a display stand, which further reduces the need (mine, at least) for detailing. Quite often I have been asked to blank out clear parts. These projects are the most satisfying.
Tom
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in article snipped-for-privacy@mb-m23.aol.com, Maiesm72 at snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote on 11/1/03 12:40 PM:

I have occasionally rented stuff out to movie companys, or more correctly the "set dressers." They usually want to pay about 20% of the value of the models or whatever. Most problems arise from handling the models and how they--the set people--want to display them. Generally, they are very careful but I never rent out anything I can't afford to lose.
MB
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Any body who asks you to make a model for them is expecting it to cost "a few beers", they are not expecting cash to change hands and if you ask for any they are not going to be mates for long. On the other hand not to charge would equate with you being a "soft touch" and the message would spread. My advice - dont do it, tell them its not your field, the wifes on heat or the cats in labour. Just make your excuses.
I have made models for a museum and got treated to the "we dont have a large budget" routine. I did them, it became a chore to do, got little out of it and would never do it again.
Dave

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I have built, gratis, several tank dioramas and airplane models for outstanding vets and as going away presents for bosses (I worked for DoD, some military, all with military experience).
When I saw the tears in a seventy year old man's eyes, I was re-paid for all of them. I don't think I would build anything for money for less than $1,000. All the models I've ever done to give away was to reward/award someone who I thought deserved it. Jerry 47

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I agree with your sentiments, but the poster is asking about charging, a very different ball game. I have done display models for a model shop gratis. The benefit to me was that I get the enjoyment of making them, they didn't cost me a thing, subjects that I would not ordinarily buy and best of all NO storage problems! Oh, and some discount on what I did buy, but we wont go into that.....
Dave

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