How Much Will It Cost?
Before starting a project we always want to know — or at least have some idea about — how much with this thing cost to build? If you’re like me, resources are limited, so knowing how much you’re going to sink into a project is smart.
So, if I buy these cool ______ * fill in the blank * (trailer, crane, press, …) plans, what’s it going to cost to build it? Then the other piece, how much time will it take? (My wife wants to know when she’s going to see me again.)
However, before jumping into areas that effect cost, let’s first ask the burning question: Are you building only to save money? If yes, then the article to read first is “When Should I Build? When Should I buy?” Because, the real value in building is not all about money.
First, How Much Will It Cost?
This is a great question, and we get it a lot. Sadly, that’s on the border of being an impossible question to answer. I wish I could tell you how much it will cost to build projects from our plans. There is so much that goes into the cost — including materials, components, finishes, options, and man-hours. Yet, these vary a ton from person to person and from project to project.
For trailers, it first depends on which trailer plans you buy. The same is true for cranes, presses, etc..
Unfortunately, steel and aluminum are world market commodity items whose prices fluctuate pretty drastically. So do the respective material prices that you and I pay. The plans contain a detailed material list, so take that to your supplier for a firm quote. That’s what I do, because information from the source is the only way to know. Here’s a trailer example.
Next, most of our plans have several options. Which ones will you choose? Some are cheap to add in, others are much more expensive. Those are choices you’ll need to make before building — or buying materials.
In choosing, there are always different levels of components to buy. For instance, when building a trailer, you can choose cheaper Chinese axles, or you can choose something domestic. The cost will certainly be different, and quality as well. (But, that’s another story.) Your choices for components affect how much the project will cost.
For a good guess at prices for components, find them online and see. You might pay a little more or a little less when it finally comes time to buy — depending on where you buy. Anyway, a quick search will give a good idea.
Let me also inject — there are always a bunch of hidden costs. For instance, the cost to build may also include buying necessary tools. It seems there is always something else we need. Things like building a trailer frame will require a welder and a lot of large clamps, which you might be able to rent or borrow instead, but keep that in mind.
What about consumables? Like a tank of welding gas, or grinding discs, etc.. Or, delivery costs for the big, heavy items?
How will you finish the trailer? The cost of powder coating is quite different than rattle-cans. And, will you prime it? Or galvanize it? Will the final project be kept outside? Or maybe in a garage? All these things have an impact on how much a project will cost.
Next, How Long Will It Take?
The question of “hours to build” is another really good question. Your skill, the equipment you have at your disposal, and your experience will definitely affect the man hours. Look at this customer video showing the complete build of a utility trailer. He said it took roughly four days — but, he has built several trailers, and he is a professional welder.
I don’t know if that time included any of the planning, purchasing, preparing, etc.. Yet, that video can give you an idea of complexity.
On the other hand, a tiny house trailer is both bigger and has more pieces, so it will take a bit longer. If you are not experienced with this, expect to spend even more time. (Not that learning is bad in any way, it’s awesome to me, but it does increase the time.)
Then, as you dive into a big project, think about who might be around to help. I ask my wife out to help now and again, and her extra hands make a big difference in the time it takes. (I know I’m lucky to have a great wife that will come out for a bit to help — but that definitely has its limits.) Then, I also have a couple friends I’ll call once in a while. Always good to tap the abilities of another great mind — and muscles!
Keep in mind, building is not about speed. DIY projects are a great experience, so don’t base your decision to build just on the amount of time it might take. Enjoy it!
So That’s It?
Alright, I agree, there’s not much substance in the above text to tell you really how much it will cost to build. Sounds more like a bunch of excuses to me. Well, maybe reasons more than excuses, but you get the point. The problem: This question is kind of impossible answer. It depends on so many choices you make, and in ways you might acquire materials or parts cheaper.
Ways To Save Money When You Build
If money is an issue, the best ways to reduce the price that we know are these. (Please, if you have other good ideas, share them in the comments below. We all want to know.)
- Scrounge at the scrap yard. I have to say, all the steel for my first build of this Shop Press was scavenged from a steel processing scrap yard. I just love scrounging through the industrial construction leftovers because they throw away so much awesome stuff. Beam ends, left-over scraps, and more.
- Shop Craigslist or other local ad boards. Again, lots of great stuff is available through these sites to help you.
- Shop sales or ask for a discount. I’ve had some limited success when buying a bunch of parts for a project — just asking if they will offer a discount. If you’re buying a lot, often local shops will give you 5% or 10% off just because you ask. Some won’t, yet, you never know until you ask.
- For parts you want to buy new, shop the industrial outlets rather than from retailers. This article tell specifically how to save money on bolts and other fasteners.
- Finally, consider re-purposing something similar. Converting a trailer from something similar, for instance. You can find lots of stuff to re-purpose if you’re open to a little creativity.
Revisiting The Cost To Build
Though we’d love to tell you just how much it will cost to build your next project, we just don’t have enough information to do it. As you can see from all the information above, there are just too many variables. Some variables you can control, some you can’t. Anyway, I wish we could give you a good answer. I’m Sorry.
This brings up one more big question? And one more variable — in what country do you live? Cost will certainly differ in various countries, but that too is an issue — in what currency should we think about cost? Or in what dimensions? Best that you work with your specifics. Hopefully we’ve given you some good information for thinking about cost to build.