The biggest reason leads feel demoralized on a job is they're not being given enough time for stuff that isn't carpentry," says Steve Larson, of Architectural Building Arts in Madison, Wis. To help solve the problem, Larson and his team developed a method to determine management hours for his five leads, called project managers. ( Click here to download the chart in .pdf format.)

Larson begins by boiling down a job into five key factors: client time, sub time, vendor time, job type, and production meetings. He then lists several criteria, such as insulation, framing lumber, number of rooms, and sub walk-through, under these factors and assigns them ratings to calculate total hours.

Using the formula, Larson has found that project management can take as much as 30% of a lead's time. The calculations help Architectural Building Arts get within 10% to 15% of true hours; without the formula, estimates were lucky to get within half the true hours needed.

Larson says that although the formula may seem daunting at first, it's easy to use once you get used to it. He invites remodelers interested in learning more about his method to contact Todd Seiler at With wide interest, he'll post details at

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