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Remodelers: I Bet You Don’t Know Your True Burdened Labor Costs

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, May 30,2012 @ 05:00 AM

Remodelers: I Bet You Don’t Know Your True Burdened Labor Costs

What is burdened cost of laborLabor cost is one of the most difficult costs to predict in an estimate. Basically, this cost is determined by calculating the hours required to complete a task or project and then factoring those estimated hours by what it costs your business per hour to compensate and support your field employees.  The cost per hour to compensate and support your field employees is commonly called burdened labor costs or your burdened hourly rate. 

If you’re not sure which employee you’ll assign to the project you are estimating, it might be wise to use the burdened labor cost of the highest-cost employee and then also estimate the work hours based on his or her abilities and performance. If you are using my Free Excel Estimating Template, this would be the rate you would enter into the top section of the template as shown below.  (Note, depending on your company’s situation, other options for which rate to use might make more sense.)


Burdened cost of labor for remodelers


Don’t use another contractor’s labor rates

Because no other company is exactly like yours, it’s important to know precisely how much it costs your company to do business. The burdened labor cost used inside your estimates must reflect your company’s actual expenses. If you don’t know your true labor costs and or how to determine them, and you fail to account for a couple of dollars per employee per hour, your loss could quickly become significant.   To make matters worse, also consider that the if the costs are missing from your estimate, those missing costs will not be marked up and included in your selling price to help contribute to required overhead and profit.

Burden and benefits

Obama health care costs will effect labor costsThe hard cost of labor includes not only the hourly wage of the employee, but also all employer-paid taxes, Social Security, insurance, vehicle expenses, and any employee benefits. Workmen’s Compensation, liability insurance, auto insurance, paid holidays, vacations, medical benefits, education, employee meetings, cell phones, pagers, and every other labor-related expense must be factored into your hourly rates. 

Keep in mind, if and when the new Obama Health Care Law comes into effect, you will need to add this cost to your burdened labor rates for each employee.

Also, be aware that Workers Compensation rates are expected to increase in many areas around the country.   You might want to budget early for this increase.

The burdened cost of labor will be different for each employee

To calculate the burdened labor cost you should use when job costing employee time cards, you’ll need to collect the expenses specific to each employee. For example, one employee may have a company vehicle; another may get a vehicle allowance. This consideration alone will result in different costs for each, even if the two employees are paid the same basic hourly rate.

Are you paying for non-productive time?

In my next blog I will discuss how missing or improperly accounting for the cost of non-productive time may be eating away at your bottom line.  I will also share how to build the cost of non-productive time into your burdened labor costs and how you can down load a free Excel Labor Burden Calculator.



Topics: Labor Costs, Estimating Considerations, Definitions, Insurance Considerations