The CSCS Card and venturing out on your own
Becoming a freelance carpenter or starting your own carpentry business can be one of the most liberating, fulfilling and profitable paths your career can take. You will not only be your own boss but you will also have a freer hand in determining how much money you eventually make. Whether you are just starting your carpentry career with a Level 2 Wood Occupations NVQ and Blue CSCS Card or have years of carpentry experience and hold a Level 4 Construction NVQ and a Black CSCS Card, there are opportunities if you choose to go out on your own.
With thorough market research, identification of a niche and good planning, freelance carpentry or a carpentry business can generate much more income than a carpentry job.
But the need to plan cannot be overemphasised – and there are few things that will be as important in your planning as the ability to get the pricing for each project right.
Which CSCS Card shows competence in pricing a project?
While the Level 2 and 3 Carpentry NVQ and the corresponding CSCS Cards are a confirmation of your technical competence in carpentry, the modules covered in these 2 NVQs do not adequately cover how to price a project. The Level 4 Carpentry NVQ has a cost management module which can help provide a good foundation for one to work out the cost of a carpentry project. However, Level, 2, 3 and 4 NVQ carpenters can still master the art of project pricing by following some basic principles.
Pricing a project irrespective of the CSCS Card you hold
First, arrange an initial meeting with the client where you will discuss the project. In case you had not done so earlier, hand the client a portfolio that includes both your past work and your credentials such as a copy of the CSCS Card.
To save on time, this initial meeting should preferably be at or as close to the actual construction site as possible. That way, you can easily combine the meeting with a site visit that will enable you to better quantify the work involved. You will need a tape measure, clipboard and calculator.
The CSCS Card and Carpentry NVQ may give you the initial credibility in the client’s eyes that prompts them to consider you for the project. But insisting on a site assessment before you give a price quote will give the client even more confidence that you are up to the task.
During the meeting, let the client know the different alternatives as far as materials go and the merits and demerits of each. Your work experience as well as knowledge you garnered through the Construction NVQ assessment and the CSCS Card test will come in handy at this point.
Note down the client’s preferences and take precise measurements of all key aspects of the entire workspace. Find out when the client would like the work completed. Adjourn the meeting so you have sufficient time to perform all calculations.
First, compute the cost of raw materials. Factor in both the raw materials you will buy outright as well as the cost of any equipment you will have to hire. Once you have the total of cost of raw materials, multiply it by 1.5 to obtain the labor costs. Add this cost to the cost of raw materials and you have the total cost of the project. The 1.5 factor is not cast in stone and you can vary it upwards or downwards depending on the complexity, size and duration of the project as well as your experience and the CSCS Card you possess.