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.)
First, How Much Will It Cost?
This is a great question, and we get it a lot. Sadly, I really wish I had a good handle on how much it will cost to build projects from our plans. There is a lot that goes into the cost — including materials, components, and man-hours. Yet, these vary a ton from person to person and from project to project.
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, and that’s what I suggest. Here’s an example with a trailer.
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.
As for options, there are always different levels of components you can buy. These are choices you get to make as well. 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 likely the quality as well. (But, that’s a different story.) Your choice of components will 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 anyway.
Next, How Long Will It Take?
Man hours are another 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. That 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 skilled at this, expect to spend even more time. Also, if you’re diving into a big project, think about who might be around to help you. I call 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 and help once in awhile — 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 choices you make when building and ways you might have to get 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. Sorry.