Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Question

We had recently had a request to provide a construction cleaning proposal for a state court and library facility in Sacramento, CA. We have been in business for a couple years, cleaning offices and other facilities. However, we don't have any experience in getting government contracts. I need guidance and advice on putting out an accurate proposal and figuring out how to price the job. The building total sq. ft. is 188,000 sq. ft. We will only be responsible for cleaning about 170,000 sq. ft. six floors high. The project time is 3 weeks based on that information. We need to hire 13 people that are subcontractors in our network. All the cleaners need to be paid a prevailing wage. Where can I find out the prevailing wage for construction cleaning? Since I hire the subcontractors, I am not required to pay for medical and other fees. What would be an hourly rate excluding fees? Project Details: Dusting shelves, baseboards window ledges and all horizontal surfaces, vacuuming carpet, restroom cleaning, window cleaning , elevator and stair mopping, trash removal. Id appreciate your help and advice.


Answer

My advice is to skip this one. Here is why, and Im not encouraging you to be overly timid, but simply to exercise due caution.
1) You have already noted that you have no experience with construction clean-up and yet the project you are looking at amounts to, not 17,000 sq. ft., but 170,000 sq. ft.
2) Assuming a cleaning rate of 200 sq. ft. per hour (and this is an illustration only) it will take 850 person hours to do the work.
3) I waded through the information at:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/OPRL/PWD/Determinations/Northern/Northern.pdf
to find the prevailing wage for a construction cleanup laborer and it amounts to $38.02 per
hour. See P.49 at the above site to double check the numbers. Even a 20% payroll burden will
cost $7.60 and boost your hourly cost to $45.62.
4) At that rate, your payroll will total $38,760 for this job and you will need to come up with that long before the prime contractor pays you for your services. Can you cover that out-of-pocket? How about half, if you could double the production rate?
5) I see sub-contractors mentioned. If they are truly subs, working legitimately on the project,
fine. Most of the time these folks end up being misclassified workers who are really your
employees, making you responsible for IRS withholding and the rest.
If these people are really subs, they will need to pay their people at least the PW and so will
want more to show a profit rather than just break even. Can you afford to make that elevated
payroll?
In other words, are you really looking at this project as one you can handle or as one too big to learn on comfortably? We all want to grow and become more capable, but taking on more than we are experienced to care for is a recipe for disaster. Do you really want to do this one?

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com