Carpeting Without a Professional Review of Costs and Complications
It may seem logical that purchasing carpet by itself, as opposed to through a qualified flooring professional, would result in a lower cost. However, carpet is not a stand-alone product. There are many additional services and expenses required to complete an installation project properly. A lower price does not necessarily mean a lower cost. A recent national survey confirmed the increased expense of carpet as an exclusive purchase and explored the origins of these costs. The survey examined several components of carpet installation ranging from material price to management time to simple cost per square yard. These elements, based on an average installation of 1,000 square yards, resulted in a cost increase between $3.55 and $7.21 per square yard.
UNDERLYING COSTS UNCOVERED
A direct purchase requires a subcontracted installation. The survey reveals that subcontractors often increase material estimates to make the installation job easier. In other words, more carpet is ordered than necessary. In contrast, qualified flooring professionals incorporate on-site inspections and analysis to determine the correct quantity for the job and any anticipated contingencies. Overall, material estimates received from subcontractors were revealed to be two to three percent higher.
Surveys of installation prices have shown that the charge for installation by a subcontracted installer can be as much as $1.25 higher per square yard than when estimated as part of a qualified flooring professional’s package. There are two reasons for this. A full service dealer who contracts for labor from an installer gets a better price than an end user who can only offer a one-time job. Also, a subcontractor who only provides installation will have to charge more per square yard because he is not realizing a profit on the materials which help cover overhead expenses.
A carpet installation project requires 6 to 12 hours of management time per thousand square yards. This time is spent arranging deliveries, planning the installation, scheduling elevators or cranes, verifying material arrival, monitoring job site deliveries, overseeing actual installation and inspecting the final work.
Surveys indicate that management experience has a direct impact on installation efficiency. Frequently, the difference in experience between a qualified flooring professional and the subcontractor hired by the end user can double the management hours necessary. As a result, the end user may recognize an additional cost of $.84 per square yard.
When installation problems do occur, they can result in large time and subsequent financial losses. Insurance is a necessary precaution. Qualified flooring professionals provide two kinds of insurance. The first protects against theft, damage or loss of the carpet while being transported from the manufacturer. The second type of coverage is the service the dealer offers that compensates for unforeseen circumstances. If the carpet is lost, stolen or mis-delivered, the dealer handles the insurance claim, reorders the materials from the mill and expedites shipment. If there are problems with product appearance or performance, the dealer works with the mill to resolve the situation, freeing the end user from an additional management process.
While insurance is not an exceptional burden to a qualified flooring professional, who typically carries a policy, an end user’s premiums for a one-time insurance policy are considerably higher. Ignoring the need for insurance only compounds the end user’s risks. This can add $.65 per square yard to the cost of buying carpet as a stand-alone purchase .
Handling, Delivery & Warehousing
There are costs for handling and the possible redelivery of the product, including breaking down pallets and transporting the cartons and roll goods from the loading dock to the actual point of use utilizing specially equipped forklift vehicles. These expenses are included when a qualified flooring professional handles the job, but not in a direct sale. Additionally, because very few construction jobs proceed on schedule, the carpet often needs to be stored until the building is ready. When an end user assumes these responsibilities, studies show it can increase the cost per square yard by as much as $.69.
Appropriate Product Selection and Layout
The correct product choice is an important cost-saving factor for the end user. Layout of the carpet is equally important. A professional takes the time to layout, present and approve seaming diagrams. The right flooring product can minimize maintenance costs and extend the time between carpet replacement. A proper site analysis can take into consideration current and pending regulation compliance and the specific effects of product construction, pattern, coloration, wear resistance and texture retention. The value of this contribution may increase product lifetime by as much as 50%. A conservative estimate of two to four percent increase in value, is as much as $.80 per square yard.
- Life Extension
Proper maintenance will contribute years to a carpet’s life and considerable value to the end user. An extra year’s life for a carpet expected to last 10 years represents a 10 percent increase in value. A six month extension on a 12-year expectancy is a four percent increase. A significant portion of a carpet’s value can only be measured after installation.
However, most subcontractors are involved exclusively in installation. Mills manufacture and supply the necessary product, but on-site assistance is not practical. Surveys indicate that qualified flooring professionals often provide recommendations
and continuous service that assists the end user in maintaining the carpet’s appearance and performance over time. These services translate into extended carpet longevity and an ultimate savings of $.80 to $2.00 per square yard.
• Additional Benefits
Professional dealers are also more experienced than the end user’s personnel at working with contacts at the mills. They are familiar with the manufacturer’s support services, such as marketing services, post sales services and internal consulting. Understanding and utilizing these resources is important when complications arise. Product choice is also extended with a professional dealer. These professionals work to find the best product and value from all available sources, not just the limited selection of one manufacturer.
In addition, professional dealers handle other aspects of installation from demolition and disposal through the final clean-up. In a direct sale these elements are added expenses. The combined value of additional services can range from .5 to 2.5 percent, as much as $.50 per square yard. In a nutshell, qualified professional flooring dealers offer the one source accountability that addresses all of these concerns.
In review, buying carpet alone may appear to save money, but in reality may result in an additional $7.21 per square yard compared to price quotes from qualified flooring professionals. Obviously, these costs depend on many variables, ranging from product selection to the size of the job, unforeseen complications and geographic location. The key point, however, is that additional costs exist, and they can be significant. While every job may not incur all these expenses, close analysis indicates that most have at least $3.55 per square yard of additional costs. Therefore, a stand-alone quote of $20.00 per square yard may have a true cost of $23.55 to $27.21. Where as a comparable quote from a qualified flooring professional is inclusive of all these costs.