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How to Start a Drywall Business
People who don’t mind the messy aspect of installing drywall and covering the seams with mud and tape may find starting a drywall installation business worth pursuing. A willingness to provide drywall repair services in addition to hanging sheetrock gives you even more project opportunities with commercial and residential contractors.
Obtain your contractor’s license based on your state’s laws. For instance, in some states, such as Alaska, drywall falls under specialty contractor regulations. The state requires you to provide proof of liability insurance, workers compensation insurance if you hire a crew and a surety bond of $5,000 -- compared to $10,000 if you’re a general contractor. In Florida, requirements are more stringent where you need to obtain a certified contractor’s license. To qualify, you must have a four-year degree in construction or several years experience as a workman or foreman in addition to showing proof of liability insurance.
Buy Tools and Supplies
Most supplies are bought on a per-project basis, but you do need a vehicle big enough to carry sheets of drywall if you do patching work and must bring your own drywall to the job rather than have it delivered. You’ll also need a way to apply tape and mud, such as using a banjo that adds the joint compound automatically. Invest in a good power drill or screw gun for fastening rock to the studs with drywall screws. You also need a saw or a router for cutting out holes for outlets, electrical boxes and pipes. If you plan to texturize the surface when you’re done, you also need an air compressor or motor to run a sprayer to apply the finish.
Hire a Crew
Since drywall installation typically requires more than one able-bodied person, especially when installing sheetrock on high ceilings, you need to hire at least one other reliable drywall installer on a subcontractor basis. If you hire a subcontractor, make it clear how you plan to pay, either by the project or by the hour, so you can budget the amount in your bid for work. If you prefer to hire employees to make up your crew, experience in drywall installation is ideal. You can also train a strong person capable of holding a sheet of drywall against the studs until he can screw it down.
Pricing for drywall installation is based on a per-square-foot fee, so you need to understand architectural drawings or take room measurements to add up the total square footage of both walls and ceilings to figure out a bid price. As a guideline, This Old House says two experienced crew members can usually finish a 12-by-16-foot room in about an hour. You also need to mark up and charge for supplies, such as drywall, joint compound and screws. Providing drywall repair services is typically based on an hourly rate plus charging for materials.
Talk to area subcontractors who need commercial construction drywall installation. Meet with remodeling and home-building companies willing to hand the drywall aspect of their projects to your company. Network with painters and contract with restoration companies that handle flood- and fire-damage repair jobs to provide sheetrock installation.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.
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