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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 04-04-2008, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Redhot-30
I agree with Dan totally!

If I had a nickel for every one of my customers that had thought that it should only cost what THEY think it should cost, I'd be rich! Regardless as to what they want as a cover material, or "while you have it apart..." etc.

It has taken me many years to be good at my craft, but they think "all you have to do is...". If it is SO easy, why are they bringing it to me?

I do it all, design, (usually because they have NO IDEA what they want); build and create; and install.

I have come to the conclusion that my pricing is the filter, for the guy's that want it for next to nothing.

i am not, or ever will be again, the lowest price in town. I have worked hard to earn a decent wage, and a $7-10K price tag usually separates the talkers from the do'ers!

As Shawn said earlier, .......AMEN. While Shawn's situation is different than most of us ( Shawn does nothing but top of the line Kustom interiors, and earns every penny he charges. The rest of us get lesser interiors) it is still the same in many respects. We all need to make a living, and not give away skills we have worked at and perfected over many years.

I do not ever just put something back in the condition it was in when it came to me. Every interior, ( especially the seats which are the focal point of the interior), are improved to the point that it is a pleasure to sit in the seat again. For that reason, I expect to be paid commensurate with the work I put into an interior.

While I'm on my soap box, here is an observation. When I have a skilled person do work for me, I take his (or her) recommendations and let that person do the work as they see fit. I ask a ballpark price, so there are no huge surprises when the final bill arrives, but if that person tells me that he had to do more or replace an unexpected part to correct what I want him to fix, and documents it for me, I am happy to pay for what was done. I increasingly find that people think that my skilled labor should not be worth what I need to charge to make a living. The same people that wouldn't dream of arguing with a plumber or electrician or auto mechanic think that I can do an interior for $700.


To answer the question about a leather interior, you need to know the pitfalls of leather. Leather is considerably more expensive than vinyl or Ultraleather, and is priced by the square foot rather than by the yard. (when I say Ultraleather, I mean 100% polyurethane fabric like Infiniss, Magnificent, or Dove).
Leather does not come in neat little rolls, it comes in hides. A hide is 45 to 55 square feet which translates into about 3 to 3 1/2 yards of fabric when you take into consideration the waste factor(13.5 square feet of fabric in a yard of fabric). No two hides are the same. It takes a lot of extra time to orient the parts on a hide to get the best yield. Leather stretches more in both directions than either vinyl or Ultraleather. While a lot of stretch is really good in some ways, it is really bad in others. When I do leather seats, I sew all of the pieces to sew foam to negate the inherent 4 way stretch and make it more like sewing regular fabric ( seating areas are sewed to 1/2" sew foam, and all other parts to 1/4" sew foam) All of this extra work means extra cost, so leather pretty much doubles the cost of the interior as opposed to Ultraleather, and is about 2 1/2 to 3 times the cost of vinyl. I hope I have explained this so you understand what I'm talking about.

Shawn and Redhot30: Please put in your views on this subject.

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Old 04-05-2008, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
As Shawn said earlier, .......AMEN. While Shawn's situation is different than most of us ( Shawn does nothing but top of the line Kustom interiors, and earns every penny he charges. The rest of us get lesser interiors) it is still the same in many respects. We all need to make a living, and not give away skills we have worked at and perfected over many years.

I do not ever just put something back in the condition it was in when it came to me. Every interior, ( especially the seats which are the focal point of the interior), are improved to the point that it is a pleasure to sit in the seat again. For that reason, I expect to be paid commensurate with the work I put into an interior.

While I'm on my soap box, here is an observation. When I have a skilled person do work for me, I take his (or her) recommendations and let that person do the work as they see fit. I ask a ballpark price, so there are no huge surprises when the final bill arrives, but if that person tells me that he had to do more or replace an unexpected part to correct what I want him to fix, and documents it for me, I am happy to pay for what was done. I increasingly find that people think that my skilled labor should not be worth what I need to charge to make a living. The same people that wouldn't dream of arguing with a plumber or electrician or auto mechanic think that I can do an interior for $700.


To answer the question about a leather interior, you need to know the pitfalls of leather. Leather is considerably more expensive than vinyl or Ultraleather, and is priced by the square foot rather than by the yard. (when I say Ultraleather, I mean 100% polyurethane fabric like Infiniss, Magnificent, or Dove).
Leather does not come in neat little rolls, it comes in hides. A hide is 45 to 55 square feet which translates into about 3 to 3 1/2 yards of fabric when you take into consideration the waste factor(13.5 square feet of fabric in a yard of fabric). No two hides are the same. It takes a lot of extra time to orient the parts on a hide to get the best yield. Leather stretches more in both directions than either vinyl or Ultraleather. While a lot of stretch is really good in some ways, it is really bad in others. When I do leather seats, I sew all of the pieces to sew foam to negate the inherent 4 way stretch and make it more like sewing regular fabric ( seating areas are sewed to 1/2" sew foam, and all other parts to 1/4" sew foam) All of this extra work means extra cost, so leather pretty much doubles the cost of the interior as opposed to Ultraleather, and is about 2 1/2 to 3 times the cost of vinyl. I hope I have explained this so you understand what I'm talking about.

Shawn and Redhot30: Please put in your views on this subject.
Thank you very much for the reply on the leather cost and what having it as a material involves. I was aware it will stretch in all directions, (some interior installers like this attribute over other materials) and also about the hide cost and the amount of waste that is associated with it. Various grades of the leather material and where it comes from is a driver as well. I asked for a ball park price for the very reason you stated. You should never hesitate to ask for a reasonable wage for your skill. People will vote with their bill folds and you won't be in business very long if you are charging too much. On the top end of the spectrum I have a quote from a very well known interior designer/installer/artist/friend of 11K to 12K for my car sight unseen. He will build the complete interior from scratch for that money, (leather). Custom bucket seats and rear seat, center console, custom door panels and head liner, (some type of foam material), wool floor covering and edged mats. It would be in line with his best work. Now that's a lot of money for me to spend. I am doing everything else on my car in my home garage. Body, paint, engine, suspension, etc, etc, etc, so I have saved enough labor money on these other item's that I could afford to spend 12K on the interior. Thats still is a lot of money. I'll have to think long and hard about that.

RGJ
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:48 AM
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Shawn and Redhot30: Please put in your views on this subject.


I would be more than happy to, but can I take a rain check? It's supposed to be 65 today and I hear the Triumph out in the garage calling my name!
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
As Shawn said earlier, .......AMEN. While Shawn's situation is different than most of us ( Shawn does nothing but top of the line Kustom interiors, and earns every penny he charges. The rest of us get lesser interiors) it is still the same in many respects. We all need to make a living, and not give away skills we have worked at and perfected over many years.

I do not ever just put something back in the condition it was in when it came to me. Every interior, ( especially the seats which are the focal point of the interior), are improved to the point that it is a pleasure to sit in the seat again. For that reason, I expect to be paid commensurate with the work I put into an interior.

While I'm on my soap box, here is an observation. When I have a skilled person do work for me, I take his (or her) recommendations and let that person do the work as they see fit. I ask a ballpark price, so there are no huge surprises when the final bill arrives, but if that person tells me that he had to do more or replace an unexpected part to correct what I want him to fix, and documents it for me, I am happy to pay for what was done. I increasingly find that people think that my skilled labor should not be worth what I need to charge to make a living. The same people that wouldn't dream of arguing with a plumber or electrician or auto mechanic think that I can do an interior for $700.
Excellent post, Dan. I was having a discussion along these lines with a carpenter friend a few months back, and he said he couldn't believe that someone could charge $10k to $15k for an interior. He said something like, "After all, it's just some vinyl and thread." I replied that the last house he built was just some wood and nails, too, so why did he get paid so much just to swing a hammer? He began to see the error of his thinking. While we all know that building a house is a lot more than nailing some 2X4s together, most people just don't have any idea as to what goes into an interior. Heck, I haven't even done a complete car yet, and everything that's entailed is really just starting to sink in. But even I know that when you start going custom, you're basically inventing as you go - within certain guidelines, of course. "Make it look cool," isn't a prefabbed design you can just slap on a seat or headliner and charge $50 for. When you ask someone like yourself, or Shawn, or Shannon to design something that's one of a kind, and create something of award-winning quality, then try to tell them that the price is too high, you're insulting them - you're basically telling that trimmer that his creativity and hours of labor aren't even worth minimum wage. We've all heard that old saw; "Speed costs money, son - how fast do you want to go?" Well, cool costs money too - how cool do you want it?

LSX Nova - I'm very new to this, but I know enough trimmers, and shop owners to know that $12k for the kind of interior you're describing is a very fair price. I sure hope you'll be posting pics!

Sorry - I didn't mean to hijack this thread...
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:11 AM
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I would be more than happy to, but can I take a rain check? It's supposed to be 65 today and I hear the Triumph out in the garage calling my name!
No problem. Have a great time. We got 8 1/2" of snow on Monday night, so I won't be riding anything until that's gone.
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:35 AM
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Thank you very much for the reply on the leather cost and what having it as a material involves. I was aware it will stretch in all directions, (some interior installers like this attribute over other materials) and also about the hide cost and the amount of waste that is associated with it. Various grades of the leather material and where it comes from is a driver as well. I asked for a ball park price for the very reason you stated. You should never hesitate to ask for a reasonable wage for your skill. People will vote with their bill folds and you won't be in business very long if you are charging too much. On the top end of the spectrum I have a quote from a very well known interior designer/installer/artist/friend of 11K to 12K for my car sight unseen. He will build the complete interior from scratch for that money, (leather). Custom bucket seats and rear seat, center console, custom door panels and head liner, (some type of foam material), wool floor covering and edged mats. It would be in line with his best work. Now that's a lot of money for me to spend. I am doing everything else on my car in my home garage. Body, paint, engine, suspension, etc, etc, etc, so I have saved enough labor money on these other item's that I could afford to spend 12K on the interior. Thats still is a lot of money. I'll have to think long and hard about that.

RGJ
That price is reasonable, especially since it includes the wool carpet and a custom console. It would bother me a little, if it was my car, that he quoted you the price sight unseen, but if you know him and trust him it should be fine. Make sure you're getting full grain leather, and not top grain. Top grain leather has had the surface altered, is heavily colored, and has a grain embossed on it. Full grain leather has its own natural surface. Top grain doesn't breathe like full grain does.
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Old 04-05-2008, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Dusty82
Excellent post, Dan. I was having a discussion along these lines with a carpenter friend a few months back, and he said he couldn't believe that someone could charge $10k to $15k for an interior. He said something like, "After all, it's just some vinyl and thread." I replied that the last house he built was just some wood and nails, too, so why did he get paid so much just to swing a hammer? He began to see the error of his thinking. While we all know that building a house is a lot more than nailing some 2X4s together, most people just don't have any idea as to what goes into an interior. Heck, I haven't even done a complete car yet, and everything that's entailed is really just starting to sink in. But even I know that when you start going custom, you're basically inventing as you go - within certain guidelines, of course. "Make it look cool," isn't a prefabbed design you can just slap on a seat or headliner and charge $50 for. When you ask someone like yourself, or Shawn, or Shannon to design something that's one of a kind, and create something of award-winning quality, then try to tell them that the price is too high, you're insulting them - you're basically telling that trimmer that his creativity and hours of labor aren't even worth minimum wage. We've all heard that old saw; "Speed costs money, son - how fast do you want to go?" Well, cool costs money too - how cool do you want it?

LSX Nova - I'm very new to this, but I know enough trimmers, and shop owners to know that $12k for the kind of interior you're describing is a very fair price. I sure hope you'll be posting pics!

Sorry - I didn't mean to hijack this thread...
Dusty, I thought it was a very fair price. Now if I can bring the quality up on my end to deserve a nice interior like he can put together.

LSX
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:00 PM
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That price is reasonable, especially since it includes the wool carpet and a custom console. It would bother me a little, if it was my car, that he quoted you the price sight unseen, but if you know him and trust him it should be fine. Make sure you're getting full grain leather, and not top grain. Top grain leather has had the surface altered, is heavily colored, and has a grain embossed on it. Full grain leather has its own natural surface. Top grain doesn't breathe like full grain does.
Thanks for the input Dan. Yes I do trust him and have known him for almost ten years. He's a stand up guy and will let you know the pluse's and minus's of the material he uses and what you are really getting for the money. I talked to him two weeks ago about the price and he had finished up a Nova like mine not too long ago and the job was fresh in his mind.

I really appreciate everyones input and didn't mean to take over this thread. Please forgive me.

LSX
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:21 PM
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All this over my interior ..boy I am impressed ....
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:23 PM
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Thanks for the input Dan.. really appreciate everyones input and didn't mean to take over this thread. Please forgive me. LSX
What a stir I made over this ..

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Old 04-06-2008, 08:45 PM
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You say,"All this over my interior...". Well, actually yes,all this over your interior.

You can spend all kinds of money on forged pistons, or a new stroker crank, etc., and would never think to complain to Jegs, or Summit about the price.

But it makes me laugh when people think their interior should only cost a couple hundred dollar at best, because "its only material and thread".

But what they don't think about, is that the interior is the part of the car that they will spend the most time with. Driving to a far away show or just crusin' through town gives them plenty of time to study their surrounding. Little do they realize that they will hate themselves if they go cheap on the upholstery.

Perfect example: I had a customer who was very excited about the interior on the new car he was finishing up. You know, a high tech, high dollar paint swoopy car, etc. He found out recently that a new, quick, down and dirty upholstery shop just opened locally, so he canceled his slot on my schedule, and is taking it to the other shop, trying to save some money. I have been told about their skills, etc.

It will be interesting to see what gets done "down and dirty".

"The joy of cutting corners is short lived, compared to the bad taste experienced by poor quality!"
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Old 04-09-2008, 10:45 PM
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Where do I start? I could go on and on about this subject for hours, but I have to be on an airplane in less than 6 hours so I'll keep it short and sweet!

First of all, I couldn't agree more with what was said by Dan and the others on here. For example, I just had some new porcelain tile put in our house. I found an expert in tile work, and paid him for the job. I didn't bicker with him on the price, because I know what it's like to have a customer complain about the cost! I know nothing about tile work, so I hired him for the job and followed his suggestions and let him use his expertise.

That's my biggest pet peeve, the "experts" that somehow know what an interior should cost. If they know so much, why aren't they doing it themselves? Or, popular this time of year, is motorcycle seats. We do alot of bike seats, usually custom built seats, very few "rebuild" jobs. But we do get alot of inquiries this time of year for them, and do one every so often. It happens all the time..."Billy Bob's Trim Shop on the other end of town can do the job for $400." People probably think I am a jerk because usually my response is something like "Well it sounds like Billy Bob got the job then, doesn't it?" I'm really not trying to be rude, but it bothers me when people expect me to lower our prices because someone else will do it cheaper. I always explain stuff with simple real world situations...it's like going to a really fancy restaurant and ordering a filet mignon and telling the waiter "I can get a steak at Ponderosa for $7.99....."

I know our prices aren't cheap, but I am a stickler for details in about everything I do. I make sure everything I do, and everything that the girls and guys of Krist Kustoms do is as close to perfect as it can be. We redo stuff sometimes...every once in awhile a panel or seat just doesn't turn out the way I envisioned and it needs to be remade. I strive for the best, and I know my customers come to Krist Kustoms because they know how picky I am and can expect top quality. I believe that your work will never improve unless you pick apart everything you do, and make the next job that much nicer. An interior (just like a paint job) can make or break a car. There's nothing worse than watching someone at a car show...they see a good looking car, walk around it, check the wheels, paint, etc, then peek in the interior and get the "EW" face and walk away. Years ago when I was just starting out, I told myself that I won't allow anyone to ever do that to a Krist Kustoms interior. Someone should look at the interior of a car and say "OOOH" or "AHH" and stick around the car for awhile.

On to the leather subject and then I better get to sleep! Haha, anyway...when someone questions whether they should use UltraLeather or Leather, I ask if they want a perfect looking material, or if they want the "natural beauty of leather." They always ask what I mean by the natural beauty of leather. It's simply scars and minor imperfections. We work around scars, but theres always the tiny little bug bite that gets missed, or sometimes, like on a large headliner for example, you just have to live with small imperfections. Leather will wear naturally, and in my opinion, leather looks better the older it gets. The natural wear and aging of leather is something you have to like if you want a leather interior. To me, a drivers seat in a hot rod that shows a little wear and usage is cool...it means the car is used and not babied. If you want an interior that will look more "perfect" and show less wear, go with UltraLeather or a similar material.

I like to hunt for interiors that came out of Krist Kustoms at car shows. I honestly like to see our stuff dirty and a little used and abused. After all, its just a car and should be driven and used as a car. We make our interiors appealing to the eye, but I also design them to be appealing to the butt. We make cool looking seats (in my opinion), but they are also designed to be comfortable. We make slick door panels with neat hand built arm rests, but the arm rests are designed and positioned so that they are useable and comfortable when you are cruising down the road. I think you get the point... Stuff like this is why interiors can be so expensive. We aren't just designing cool looking stuff, we are making them comfortable, durable and long lasting, and neat at the same time. Alot of time goes into making a door panel, or kick panel, or headliner. Theres a TON of work that is hidden that you don't see in the finished product.

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Old 04-10-2008, 07:24 AM
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It really wears you down after a while having these conversations. I really thought that after a while, this "having to prove yourself and your work" nonsense would have stopped. But it seems to continue, everyone thinks they know more than the professional they go to these days, and they already know what it should cost.
Those are the one's that I send down the road! I have worked harder than they will ever comprehend, and earned the right to not put up with jerks like this!
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:13 AM
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My $.02.

While I am sure it's always been this way, people being cheap, I have to think that all these tv shows building cars has a bit to do with what people perceive is involved with an aspect of what they want done. I especially get it when a customer wants a custom fiberglass sub enclosure. Talk about a time consuming process, but it only took an hour on tv.
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redhot-30
You can spend all kinds of money on forged pistons, or a new stroker crank, etc., and would never think to complain to Jegs, or Summit about the price. But it makes me laugh when people think their interior should only cost a couple hundred dollar at best, because "its only material and thread".
While I agree with the interior guys about the "value" of their work, my observation, based on building these things for nearly fifty years now, is that the "relative" cost for the various elements of a hot rod (engine, frame, suspension, body, electrical, interior, paint ec.) has changed over time. As materials have improved or, in the case of paints, environmental factors have come into play, the "percentage" of the budget going to certain elements has risen, while the percentage going to other elements has dipped.

Back in the 50's and 60's paint and interior were NOT the major high dollar items on a car as they are today. I don't have hard and fast billing records for my early cars but I would estimate most guys spent no more than 15 to 20 percent of their total budget on paint and interior to produce a "local standout" type of car.

Ask around any local car show today and it would not be at all surprising to discover that paint and interior, ALONE, will comprise 40 to 50% of the car's total budget. A $50K car will quite commonly have a $10K interior and a $10K paint job. So for us old timers (and some of the new comers who may have heard old timers yakking), the ever changing RELATIVE costs of building a car has taken some getting used to. And maybe a bit of grumbling along the way.

On the other hand I am totally convinced that the QUALITY of both paint and interior has risen dramatically during my hot rodding life. Paints now provide an eye popping array of color and special effects while, at the same time, providing much greater longevity. Interiors, as mentioned above, have now become one of the visual "wow" factors for a car...while the materials, including the magic of synthetics, have become wonderful to look at, comfortable to ride in, and resistant to wear and abuse. It should also be pointed out that both of these components, paint and interior, are quite labor intensive. And we all know about the need for increasing hourly wages to keep up with the escalating cost of living. So it should should come as no surprise that the cost of these elements of a car have risen disproportionately over the past 40-50 years.

So are these higher relative costs worth it? I think that answer lies in the quality of the car you are building. Take, for example, the two cars in my avatar. They are nearly polar opposites. It would have made no sense to put a $6k interior in the roadster (the whole dang car only cost $5k) and it would have just looked out of place compared to the overall image I was going for.

On the other hand, it wouldn't have made any sense for me to slap together some cheap Naugahyde and staple it to a board...to put in the '32 pickup (which is appraised at 10 times the value of the roadster). The pickup demanded a high quality, Ultra leather, interior.

What I'm trying to say is, fit your interior and paint budget to your OVERALL budget and car's quality. The fact is you can have a cool lookin' hot rod without breaking the bank and without high dollar paint or upholstery. On the other hand, when the car you are building deserves it, a high end paint job and interior are worth every nickel.
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