need advise

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by chris546, Oct 13, 2003.

  1. chris546

    chris546 New Member

    I have been asked to build a model train diorama. I have been building models for years. I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging, but I've won several awards for them, and I think they are better than average quality

    The guy that wants me to build a train diorama has offered to pay me, but I have never before been payed for model building. I have no idea what a fair price would be. What he is looking for is HO scale with an L shaped layout. It is about ten feet long by six feet wide, and another corner that is an additional five feet by three and a half feet. I don't want to cheet him, but I know how much work I put into my models. If anyone out there has any idea what a fair price for this type of work is please let me know. Thanks for your help.
  2. Arlaghan

    Arlaghan Member

    While I don't have a direct answer to your question, I can tell you what was told me regarding selling wooden ship models. As a general rule of thumb, the finished model sells for about 10 times the cost of the kit, but demand for a finished ship (versus demand for building a kit oneself) is somewhat high - I believe Model RR is different in this regard - the draw of the hobby is building the train layout, with running them as a bonus.

    I would say in order to apply this rule to you - just figure about 3 to 4 times the cost of the materials. I wouldn't charge an hourly rate, because the cost would be exorbitant to the buyer, or absurdly low for the modeler. As such, this is something you would need to ENJOY because once you begin, you are pretty much commited to finishing the job, as you're dealing with someone else's capital! :)
  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    That sound like a bit more than a diorama, Chris - that's a whole layout! What all does he want done - design, benchwork, laying track, wiring, scenery, buildings, etc?
    Go to a hobby shop (or maybe a bookstore) and get an issue of Model Railroader - they usually have ads for outfits that will build layouts for $$$. You could contact them or visit their websites to get an idea of what they charge.
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I have a couple of friends who have built layouts for individuals. The standard practice is to charge for either time and materials, or just charge for your time with the customer supplying all materials. Here in So Cal, my friends charge about $10.00 per hour. To my thinking that price is really cheap. Generally the customers have been doctors who either lack the skill or the time or both to build a layout, and they don't want to wait to learn all of the ins and outs of layout construction before they have that dream layout.
    I think the important thing is to have an understanding before going in what you will charge, and who is responsible for procuring the materials. The second important thing is to make sure that whoever is supplying the materials, has them on hand in a timely manner so that you don't waste a lot of time "chasing parts." I keep thinking of things I've forgotten. Does the individual have an idea for a track plan he wants built, or does he just have a given space to fill? The sizes you have quoted will cause some problems reaching to the back of the layout without some access hatches built in. Does he want to deal with crawling under for access, or would he rather have some "walk in" areas to provide access to the back?
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I would estimate the time, multiply that by an hourly ammount that you would charge for doing something you don't really like, or by the amount you make on your day job. Then you can consider, do you really want to do this, or is it just for the money? If you really want to do it, you can discount the total, else, stand your ground :D

    Also, I would mark up all materials at a minimum of 50%. 50% is to help you break even on materials once you consider running around, shipping, scrap, oh by the way, and oh I forgot this.

    If this is for fun, you have a lot of margin for error, because you win even if you break even. It's even more fun when you walk away with money for your hobby though! Watch out for the tax man.

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