The price of just about everything is going up, from building materials to gas and food. But many remodelers' revenues are going down as jobs become scarcer and smaller.

One result is the growing need to understand how jobsite disruptions — breaking for another smoke, idle chit-chat or text-messaging, fixing mistakes, extra trips to the shop or the store, milling around while things get set up, needing something to be re-explained — can inflate the true cost of that $20-an-hour employee to $40 or more an hour.

“In better times, you can absorb a loss or two here and there,” says Diane Gilson of Info Plus Accounting. But in the current tighter market, “you really need to know your numbers because you can't afford money falling through the cracks.”

One of Gilson's tools for helping remodelers avoid the losses associated with wasted time is the Labor Burden Calculator, an Excel-based program that helps users compute how much employees really cost, how much to charge for them, and, in some cases, whether certain duties should be reassigned or contracted out.

The calculator can also help employees understand their true labor burden rates and accept more accountability for their performance.

Sent as a customized e-mail attachment, the calculator costs less than $200 with a current $30 discount. Learn more at