Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Question

My family owns a residential cleaning company and we were offered an 10,800 sq. ft. office building (lawyers’ offices). We have never cleaned offices before so I am clueless as to what to charge. The initial cleaning is post construction, but the contractors left it in really good condition. They painted, replaced all panels for the drop ceiling, installed new carpets, a few cabinets in their two small kitchens, and three new bathrooms with a few stalls and urinals. Here is our task list for the initial cleaning: Small windows (inside only), 3rd floor: 9000 sf., 95% carpet, 21 offices (all carpet), 1 kitchen (tile floors), 2 restrooms, 2 conference rooms (carpet), 3 small computer rooms (vinyl floors), 2nd floor 1800 sf. (all carpet), 1 reception area (common area), 4 conference rooms, 1 kitchen (tile floors), 1 restroom. We employ 9 women. I'm thinking the initial cleaning would take about 4 hours with about 4 or 5 employees. Am I off base here with that estimation? The place is empty so there are no obstacles to get in our way. After the initial cleaning, he would like us to clean 3x per week: Empty trash, vacuum, disinfect restrooms. Clean the 3 small kitchens, light dusting. How should I charge for the initial cleaning and for the 3x per week?. I've done some research and I've seen anything from .15 - .30 per sf weekly. Does that sound correct? I really want this job and I don't want to bid too high, but I don't want to be in the hole either. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Answer

We may have gotten this in time for the answer to reach you in time to help, so I’m going out on a limb here and be specific.
Most of what you are doing is in an empty office space. We got this a week ago, so I hope that is still true.
If you can get by with mostly sweeping edges and vacuuming, the work will run about 2 hours with a backpack vac. Add another 2 woman hours for the dusting, damp wiping of fixtures, vacuuming out the cabinets. Figure an hour for the windows if you can use a strip washer and squeegee or any fast method. This is a guess because you didn’t say how much glass there is.
That brings us up to 5 hours. Add another 2 hours for good measure and figure 7 woman hours. Use 4 workers and you will spend under 2 hours working together in there.
I think your 20 (4 x 5) man-hour estimation is way off for this space and condition, but I’m not there, you are.
To charge for this choose a basic rate. $45 per woman-hour x 7 = $315.
If they want you to scrub and refinish floors, total the actual area and charge $.40 per sq. ft. for the work. Can you do the floor finishing? If not, find a legitimate sub-contractor who can and pay them the bulk of that money. Work with them on a price.
The daily work should run 2500 sq. ft. per hour or better on these upper floors. 4.3. woman hours a night at $22 per hour = $95 x 3 = $285 per week x 52 = $14820 per year / 12 = $1235 per month (uniform billing). 1235/10800 = $.12 per sq. ft/ per month.
In my experience, $.15 per sf per week ($3240) ($168,480 annually) is fiction. Play with the numbers above (check my math) to get an idea of where you should be.

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