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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-10-2009 08:46 PM
Ldub337 Im glad i found this post. Within the last year I finally started working for myself. I've gotten hassled by friends who don't understand why it costs so much. Everyone thinks its as easy as resewing a shirt or a pair of jeans. As far as costs for Private jets, yeah those are unbelievable. I worked as an upholsterer for a Jet manufacturer. Ive seen two leather bags, portable dvd player cases as a matter of fact, go for 2,000. All jobs were no less than perfect, we spent close to 350 labor hours per seat.
04-10-2008 11:50 AM
home brew
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
Once again, AMEN!

But it's all not just about money. I have people come in my shop all the time because they need a 4" open seam sewn back together. When I finish they say "what do I owe you", and I always say "nothing, just remember me when you need something more done". Invariably I either get more work from them or they give me more money than I would have asked for in the first place. Of course, my shop is in a very small town where word of mouth means a lot, and I know most of them personally.
Customers always love to get work that has value added or better yet free! This will pay off big time over the years as word of mouth will always be your best advertising. Those who have spent the time developing a happy customer base at the beginning of their careers will do exceptional in the future. Too bad they are not recognized sooner.
04-10-2008 09:46 AM
DanTwoLakes
Quote:
Originally Posted by armysniper
Whether you spend $100 or $10,000 at my place, you are important and are going to get the best I can do for that $100.
Once again, AMEN!

But it's all not just about money. I have people come in my shop all the time because they need a 4" open seam sewn back together. When I finish they say "what do I owe you", and I always say "nothing, just remember me when you need something more done". Invariably I either get more work from them or they give me more money than I would have asked for in the first place. Of course, my shop is in a very small town where word of mouth means a lot, and I know most of them personally.
04-10-2008 09:36 AM
DanTwoLakes You can still get a high quality (in workmanship) basic no frills interior for a more reasonable price by using regular marine or automotive vinyl or cloth. The problem comes when people want all the time consuming custom extras and can't understand that extra labor means we have to charge more. On top of that, all of us have higher overhead because supplies (especially foam) have skyrocketed in cost. This is certainly not exclusive to upholstery shops, everyone is feeling the pinch and having to raise prices.

If you think car interiors are bad, check out the price of an airplane interior. Everything you use needs to be FAA certified flame resistant, and has to have certification papers to prove it. Leather that sells for $10 to $12 a square foot is double that. Fabric that sells for $28 to $35 a yard is $65 to $80 a yard. The carpet I used in a 1955 Cessna 310 cost me $105.00 a yard, and it was only 8 feet wide.
04-10-2008 09:13 AM
armysniper While I agree that you fit what you can afford into your budget, and style of car you drive or are building, that doesn't mean a shop has to compromise it's quality and "image" to suit a particular customers needs.

Let's say I painted 10 high end paint jobs that bring in 5 customers to get the same level of work. That is great right?

But one shoddy job for a cheap customer can scare away 100 potential customers.

On the flip side of that though is that I have seen shops that take care of "VIP" customers or celebrities better than the average customer. That's crap!
Whether you spend $100 or $10,000 at my place, you are important and are going to get the best I can do for that $100.
04-10-2008 08:31 AM
cboy
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.
04-10-2008 08:13 AM
armysniper 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.
04-10-2008 07:24 AM
Redhot-30 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!
04-09-2008 10:45 PM
kristkustoms 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.
04-06-2008 08:45 PM
Redhot-30 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!"
04-05-2008 01:23 PM
nitrofc
Quote:
Originally Posted by LSX Nova
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 ..
04-05-2008 01:21 PM
nitrofc All this over my interior ..boy I am impressed ....
04-05-2008 01:00 PM
LSX Nova
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
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
04-05-2008 12:52 PM
LSX Nova
Quote:
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
04-05-2008 10:35 AM
DanTwoLakes
Quote:
Originally Posted by LSX Nova
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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