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Commision builds..........

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  • Member since
    August 2016
Commision builds..........
Posted by Keyda81 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 7:49 PM

So who here does commision builds?  I've had several people ask me to build models for them, and I honestly have no clue how much to charge.  I assume things like specific details, PE, scratch building would all increase the price.  I have no idea where to even start though. 

I've recently had one of Whiskey 7's pilots ask me to make him a Mini Whiskey 7, but I have no clue what kind of a quote to give him. 

To give you an idea of what goes into building Mini Whiskey 7........

Mini W7 #1

Mini W7 #2

Pitot tube cover, wheel chocks, stairs, donation bomb, gust locks, antenna, anti-collision light, interior seats, some of the cockpit, and flags are all scratch built.  I used interior and exterior PE along with PE flaps.  Whiskey's main colors are a custom mix of acrylic craft paint, the W7, and R are painted on.  So a lot of work goes into it.  How can you put a price on it?!

  • Member since
    January 2012
  • From: Barrie, Ontario
Posted by Cdn Colin on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 8:40 PM

Time + materials.

Pick an hourly wage and multiply that by how many hours of work will go into it.  Then add the costs for the kit, aftermarket stuff, paint, and other supplies.

I build 1/48 scale WW2 fighters.

Have fun.

  • Member since
    August 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 8:47 PM

Right off the start figure all the parts and materials, extras, etc.  Since you have built 2 of them you will already have an idea of the time it will take, not only for a basic build, but the time for any extras like the wind locks, chocks and so on.

 

Big question is...what is your time and expertise worth to you?  You can figure an hourly rate, pencil it out and adjust to come to a price both of you can live with.  Make sure you have some kind of written agreement on the final price and timeframe, giving yourself a cushion for problems, either build wise or personal.

 

I wish you great success in the venture.

  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: Batesville, IN
Posted by ggatt_2 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:53 PM

Don't short change yourself on your rate. Charge whatever you feel is honest, but don't forget there are serious skills and serious time involved in building a good model. I don't think most people will be willing to spend what it's really worth to have a model built for them.

-Greg

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 11:08 PM

A lot of good advice here.

The three rules I follow:

what do I want to make net?

what's the cost to me plus reasonable profit?

what is the competition charging?

To the first, set yourself a reward that you can aspire to, like a new alternator for the Camaro. $ 600. That way you'll be inspired to finish.

To the second, what does the place where you work charge for you? $ 30/hr.? $100/hr.? Takes me twenty hours to build the thing. That's $ 600 to $ 2,000 plus parts (minimal).

To the third, elusive and unreliable.

Set yourself a schedule, draft a short form agreement letter, ask for 50% up front, ask a lot.

"Mr. Douglas, I will charge you $ 900.00 to make this model. I will finish it in 30 days. I will ask for $ 450.00 up front. I will not charge you for the cost of the model plus supplies. I will allow up to two hours to correct things you don't like. I will charge you shipping or find a reasonable way to give you the model. Balance due on delivery."

That sounds like an entirely reasonable set of conditions, doesn't it?

The usual failing in this enterprise is a lack of will to charge what you are worth. Who is more capable of buliding a well researched, well built and dependable model of this aircraft than you.

NO ONE! Worth an extra $ 1,000 right there.

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2011
  • From: Armpit of NY
Posted by MJames70 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 11:10 PM
Think carefully before undertaking any commission work - very few people out there are willing to pay anything like a decent rate for a project that may take 30-50 hours of your time or more. Are there people that can make a living at it? Sure, but they are mostly fortunate ones that have been able to land a ‘whale’ customer or two, for whom money is no object. For most who attempt it, doing commission work is an express highway to despair and pain. Think it over well before doing it.
  • Member since
    August 2016
Posted by Keyda81 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 7:35 AM

Thank you all for the responses.  Building something on commision isn't something I expected to come out of the hobby.  It is just that to me, a hobby.  Mini W7 is very special to me however.  She is to special to a lot of people.  All the pilots that fly her are volunteers.  Practically everyone at the museum is a volunteer.  We volunteer our time to take Whiskey 7 to events, and do our airshow.  I know it might sound weird, but Whiskey 7 touches people somehow.  She's loaded with history.  So I know how most feel about her.  I guess that is why I was considering building it.  I know there are pitfalls to doing a commision as well.  Obviously it takes time away from building stuff you want to, what if the customer isn't happy with it.  Running into problems, which happens with almost any build.  I would never try to make a living with it.  That is asking for trouble.  I have plenty of time to think about it.  I told him I wouldn't be starting on that until at leas the begining of next winter. 

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Corpus Christi, Tx
Posted by mustang1989 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 7:58 AM

I've been asked to build models of autos and aircraft for folks and I've considered doing it a few times but something I have to think about is that this hobby is an enjoyable one to me and takes me AWAY from the demands on my time. If I were to start building models on commission I have placed demands on my time in a hobby which gives me a break from just that very thing.  I have built models for people as gifts and haven't charged them for anything more than the materials and that gives me some time to complete it for them without having to be so much under the gun. Myself.....I prefer to build as a break from life rather than turn it into a "job". Just something to think about if you do decide to go through with building under commission Keyda.

                   

 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Massachusetts
Posted by ajlafleche on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:08 AM

Rule of thumb, multiply the cost of the kit and all materials by three, then add that to the cost unless hese are  being supplied. Get a signed agreement with a deposit up front. This can be waived if you have developeda relationship with the person. If there are lots of mods required such as exensive PE, planned surgery, etc, consider a higher rate. NEVER accept a check for final payment, cash, money order or PayPal only. 

Be vary careful of shipping. I had a guy buy a built figure one time.I packed it so it could not move in the box. He refused to meet me half way to delliver it so it went USPS insured $400. He got it and claimed it arived demolished. He had pictures. It was destroyed. USPS declined the claim. I truly believe he clumsily unpacked it and dropped it, a viking on a rearing horse, white metal, and it ddidn't survive the fall. I got my cost back and he kept the destroyed and unrepairable figure. 

Remember, if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, February 13, 2020 10:31 AM

Hi Keyda!

     Having done this for about 47 years I will say I don't recommend this to you. Number One ,You enjoy the models you build. Number Two, You get to keep them if you want.

      I have built models for Clean Seas, Clean Bay, L.R. Convention Ctr., Ark Legislative Library. The law offices of McMath & Mcmath etc. and One shop,-Just Trains in Concord Ca. It can be terribly rewarding and terribly taxing on your time and abilities. I don't care how great a modeler you are.

       Lastly ,you have to ask yourself, Beyond the material costs,What's Your time worth? On Museum Level Sail ship restorations My charge is $ 350.00 an hour. On Modern Non-Warship models it's $250.00 an hour. See, I figure it on ability and research costs.

       Sail Ships cost me more in researching and verification than Modern vessels, and Warships changed so much, Ship to Ship, The price has to vary. If you don't have to, don't do it.      Tanker Builder         Oh Yes, a big P.S. here! Shipping is a cost you cannot ignore for both cost and the anguish when the client recieves a box of Debris instead of a model. I have even pre-packed a a Model, Kicked it all over the shop and threw it into a wall. No damage when I checked it. Sent more of the requested parts to Arizona from Texas - Result - Arrival condition, 7 of 12 useless to client!

  • Member since
    March 2005
Posted by philo426 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 10:52 AM

Seems like a minefield of problems.Shipping a sailing ship model is very problematic.Commercial carriers are out...way too rough.Only viable option is to deliver it yourself or contract a cartage company  that specializes in fragile objects d'art.Expensive indeed!

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:25 AM

I've done some figures for others.  My price is a case of beer, usually Salvator or Franziskaner, but I'd even do it free of charge.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Malvern, PA
Posted by WillysMB on Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:33 AM

I'm with the "think twice" group here. I've done several models for friends on request which I only asked for the cost of the kit on. I found that in most cases I didn't enjoy the experience feeling under pressure to deliver something of quality on a timeline I imposed on myself. I did a model of Fuddy Duddy for Geneseo (I wonder if it's still there?) as a gift to the old A&P mechanic I worked with. Everybody was happy, but I swore I'd never do another one.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • From: Boise ID area
Posted by modelcrazy on Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:35 AM

the Baron

I've done some figures for others.  My price is a case of beer, usually Salvator or Franziskaner, but I'd even do it free of charge.

 

Agreed, I ask the customer to pay for the kit materials, but in return I'm not under a time crunch.

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:52 AM

WillysMB

...I found that in most cases I didn't enjoy the experience feeling under pressure to deliver something of quality on a timeline I imposed on myself...

A buddy of mine took some commissions to build some armor models, and he had that experience.

He also said he had a hard time building the way his customer wanted the models finished.  The customer was wrong, and my friend wanted to finish the models accurately.  But since the customer paid, he got what he wanted, inaccurate though it was.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    August 2016
Posted by Keyda81 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 1:46 PM

You guys have certainly given me a lot to think about!  I am rather leery of building a model for someone else, especially under a commission.  I would be afraid it wouldn't meet their expectations.  Plus with the amount of time it takes from all the other projects I want to do.  I'm flattered by the responses I get, but I don't think building stuff for other people is for me.  I can fully understand how it can cause a host of problems.  I would rather build something for someone else only if it's a gift.  Thanks for all the responses!

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, February 13, 2020 2:26 PM

I think your circumstance is unique so follow your heart. Building on commission has a way of turning something you love into work, but on the other hand you love the subject and you like working with these people.

 

  • Member since
    August 2016
Posted by Keyda81 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 7:24 PM

GMorrison

I think your circumstance is unique so follow your heart. Building on commission has a way of turning something you love into work, but on the other hand you love the subject and you like working with these people.

 

 

You have a point, lol.  I don't work real closely with the particular pilot asking for the build, but I have flown with him once.  He's not typically in the hangar every weekend getting dirty, lol.  Those are the guys I work with a lot.  A few of the pilots do come down and get dirty too.

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Thursday, February 13, 2020 7:52 PM

Keyda81

 

 
GMorrison

I think your circumstance is unique so follow your heart. Building on commission has a way of turning something you love into work, but on the other hand you love the subject and you like working with these people.

 

 

 

 

You have a point, lol.  I don't work real closely with the particular pilot asking for the build, but I have flown with him once.  He's not typically in the hangar every weekend getting dirty, lol.  Those are the guys I work with a lot.  A few of the pilots do come down and get dirty too.

 

Have you thought about selling this pilot the one you are currently building?  Then you don't have to worry about the time issue, and you can build another one for you.  Do not take less than the costs of the kit, options, and materials and double it.  

I did the commission gig and will never do it again.  Takes the enjoyment out of building for relaxation because I always had that little monkey on my shoulder flicking me on the ear and telling me I need to get this done and it needs to be perfect.  I do sell models when offered but pretty much for just enough to buy another kit.  

  • Member since
    February 2012
  • From: Olmsted Township, Ohio
Posted by lawdog114 on Friday, February 14, 2020 12:49 AM

Here's my 2 cents Keyda.  I build mostly on commission now and I'm pretty backed up at the moment.  A few years ago I was running out of display room, so a friend of mine talked me into selling a few of my builds on ebay.  To my surprise they all sold quickly and I found myself building specifically to sell on ebay for extra cash.  It just took off from there and I've managed to get a few regular customers from my ebay sales. 

So there is a market for these if your willing to dedicate the time to it. You also have to build desirable subjects.  For example my Ju-87 Stuka and Me 262 sold immediately yet a P-47 Razorback still sits there after two months with 6 watchers (no I won't reduce the price....lol). 

You also have to keep the prices reasonable. As others touched on, nobody is going to pay $1000 for a plastic model, so hourly rating isn't feasible here.  I suppose I'll offer at least what I charge.  For an out-of-the-box 1/48 single engine fighter I start at $250. That is with whats in the box including decals.  If we start adding the aftermarket goodies (which most will want), the price goes up.  My average is around $350 for a decked out single engine fighter.  So in retrospect, the kit costs you $30-40 and another $30 or so in extras, that still a $280 profit. Now larger or multi engine subjects, it's even more because there is obviously more work involved. 

I hope this helps a bit and good luck....     

 "Can you fly this plane and land it?...Surely you can't be serious....I am serious, and don't call me Shirley"

 

 

 

 

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