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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: April 4, 2022, 12:12 pm 
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A little off topic.. please forgive me.. I'm in uncharted territory thinking of building for someone else..

I've been approached to help a local guy build an outlaw/heavy-patina 356 Porsche.. He is very capable, but he really just needs help.. He's seen my work and has asked for me to join him to guide/ accelerate his 356 project. Money is not an issue for him, he has the means to see the project through.. His shop is well equipped and is about an hour from my place. Very nice guy, he just has too many projects and never enough time (he has many very cool vintage cars).. I normally spend my summers building my own stuff (I'm a teacher), but this gig would redirect my energy..

Have you ever built for someone else? Any tips or thoughts if you've been down this road? If I take the gig, it's 2 hours round trip commute.. I very much like his project, and I find it personally interesting, but I don't give up my free time easily.. Do you have an opinion on what is a fair hourly rate? He has money and motivation to move this project forward, but I'm unsure what a fair build/ hourly rate would be? My last few builds have turned out well, but I'm concerned with accurately assessing my own value either too high or too low (read: the value of my time/ experience)..

Every done this? Pitfalls? Rewarding? Things to avoid? Things to include/ exclude? Posting here (or if you prefer sending a Person Message) with your thought/ experience would be appreciated..

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this :cheers:

--ccrunner

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Last edited by ccrunner on April 4, 2022, 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: April 4, 2022, 12:17 pm 
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My first thought, liability. I'd want some kind of waiver of liability.

No idea on a rate, maybe check in with a few shops locally & see what their labor rates are, as a gauge?

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PostPosted: April 4, 2022, 1:53 pm 
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I'd say occasionally if stuck but on a regular basis, no. I've been asked a few times to work on cars and war birds, but time is the most precious resource we have and I never have enough of it for the things I want to do. No shortage of things to do. What do you want?

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Frame length x cockpit width x engine bay height (without hood/bonnet/cowl)
Lotus Super Seven: ?x39x7.25
Champion (Book): 114x42x11
Gibbs Haynes: 122x42x14
Voo Doo: 113x44x14
McSorley “442”122x46x14
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PostPosted: April 5, 2022, 9:00 am 
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Liability is number one on my list since money is being exchanged for design and labor, followed by a big loss of building time of my own projects. If direction, suggestions and encouragement are needed, I would offer for free, a few visits scattered over a few months.

I am involved with a builders-group that meets every Wed evening and work on members' cars, some very modified. Not as much as your builds, but not simple wrench turning. It is a 50 minute drive each way. I have to admit, it is good to get out of my own garage.

I would say, "Don't let somebody else's dream, wants and money get in the way of your own."

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PostPosted: April 5, 2022, 12:15 pm 
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Any chance he's got an RV at the shop you could stay in? Might make it easier to throw a weekend or two a month at it and see how it goes. Could be a good experience working with/for someone else. I'm sure we can all imagine you doing this more professionally once you you retire.

It'll be interesting to hear how the liability concerns are addressed.


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PostPosted: April 5, 2022, 12:52 pm 
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I have no experience with this, but functionally I would want to know exactly what the scale and scope work statement he is expecting from me (in writing) before deciding on whether or not I'm interested and at what price. Number of hours (total and per day/week/month) I'm committing, total overall and rate of progress from my efforts during that time, % of total effort split between me and him, guiding/consulting vs building/fabricating roles and responsibilities, etc.

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PostPosted: April 5, 2022, 1:15 pm 
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I have built a couple cars on the side, the main thing is be very up front about what your experience offers and what you may not be able to do. Id ball park an hourly rate of $30-50 depending on what your being hired for and let him know how many hours you can commit before having to step away.

Edit: A few more things to consider.
Take work home with you if that's an option, its easier get things done when theres not hours of driving to factor in and you can step away for a couple hours when you need to research something, wait for product to cure, or go pickup some hardware.

I'd charge the hours directly instead of flat rate, with custom projects nothings straightforward and/or factoring the flat rate labor on a custom part just isn't reasonable. Its somewhat obvious but keeping track of your time with a timeclock app will help with accounting, often you'll think something took a couple hours and it was only 45 minutes or vice versa, its best to just let the clock keep track.


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PostPosted: April 5, 2022, 7:09 pm 
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I would charge for a "day". Agree hours and a price per day, then he can use you in whatever capacity he would like. Very simple, no confusion. It is his responsibility to use your skills efficiently.


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PostPosted: April 5, 2022, 8:28 pm 
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Personally I'd find that a tough one.......that's my 2 cents

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PostPosted: April 6, 2022, 11:23 am 
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I quoted a guy a while back to build a car for a non-profit. His purchased frame with plans/ designs for the needed bits. I was just doing fabrication.
$100/ hour

He asked for an all in or not to exceed price, so I hit him with $20k and he didn't blink, but needed "a little time" to raise the cash. Quote valid for 120 days as I really didn't want the job.

6 months later he called me up and said he finally had cash and parts to do it, but I was back to full time employed.

Now the fine print. When I quoted him I already had an operational LLC with a $1M umbrella policy in place. The LLC and unbrella policy were there to protect my personal assets if things went sideways.

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PostPosted: April 6, 2022, 11:25 am 
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Take it with a grain of salt, but I've been in a few situations where the build/project/etc fell flat or never "finished".
Thankfully none with bad blood/sour taste, but the time spent and unrecoverable was always the thing that stung.

Being the linchpin on someone else's project is stressful enough when it's your day job, and it seems like you'll be seen as an employee or a contractor, expected to get it done, and have it stand up to your shown personal best.

The other thing is, you likely are thinking about small things on your personal projects while taking a shower, getting ready for bed, brewing a coffee, reading a book, on break from class, cooking dinner, etc.
For a personal project, that doesn't feel all that intrusive, but if it's someone else's project it can get draining.
It's also time spent on the project, but nobody can bill for "I was walking to the fridge, figured it all out, but forgot to grab the butter."

Navigating the rabbit holes of finding just the right part, bit of info, obscure thingywhatsit, or bespoke supplier feels less of a dig and squeeze for me when it's my own things, and the time feels more justified.

I personally have stopped doing open-ended work for anyone I'm not already good friends with.

As I live by: "You can always make more money, you can never make more time."


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PostPosted: April 6, 2022, 1:42 pm 
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Unless I really needed the money, I'd say no. Between my time and the enormous consequences of liability, it just isn't worth it. Even selling books about building a car is something I cope with only by trying not to think about it... in fact there's a thread on here somewhere of me going on and on about how that could all go sideways. It hasn't, and builders are each building slightly different cars than my plans, so that lessens my involvement, somewhat. That said, the nightmare scenario is having the builder take the car out and not come back, and the family comes after you. That though was enough that several times I considered pulling the plug on both books, but ended up completing them.

Somewhat related, with Midlana going up for sale soon, there are similar feelings bubbling up again, "what ifs" regarding what a new owner might do, what might happen, and who would be blamed. I know that a few people here have cut up their cars instead of selling them for exactly that reason—I get it. So, yeah, there are liability concerns, and you have to charge enough so that you can literally sleep at night.

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PostPosted: April 12, 2022, 10:57 am 
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Thank you everyone for your feedback and experiences with this.. it's a niche concern for sure...

I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with this opportunity, but this thread has certainly guided how I'll go forward..


Thanks again :cheers:

--ccrunner

_________________
'72 Honda N600 build log (bike lump in a microcar)...
"ccrunner's N600 VFR800 repower"

'63 Volvo 1800 w/ I4 build log (LNF Ecotec in a Svelte Swede)
http://locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=16309

'59 Berkeley SE492 build log (bike lump in a microcar)... "A Berkeley With Bite!"
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=19397


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PostPosted: May 5, 2022, 4:58 pm 
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KB58 wrote:
Unless I really needed the money, I'd say no. Between my time and the enormous consequences of liability, it just isn't worth it. Even selling books about building a car is something I cope with only by trying not to think about it...
I'm in a somewhat odd (hopefully) situation, having designed sport aircraft, of which my company sold 1396 examples in the early '80s (plus I-don't-know-how-many examples by various other companies) and I got sued every time I turned around until the last couple of decades. I was amazed at how thin the grounds of Failure To Warn could be -- I was sued by a man who flew drunk into power lines at 2:30 in the morning, on the grounds that my manual had too few warnings about daylight and sobriety, I was sued by a man who built his own microlight aircraft due to being inspired by a photo of one of mine in the cover of National Geographic (I kid you not, and Melvin Belli's office was his counsel), and the end of it only came after the costs of defense used up all my money and assets (my home, for example). I am only free to run Kinetic Vehicles (and do other good works) because I am simply no longer worth suing. When suit nibbles come my way, I reply with a financial statement and -poof!- they're gone.

This is not a bad way to live, and I'm happier than I was when I had 30+ employees and a new house every year (we'd convert the old one to a rental), but seriously, if you have lots worth suing you for now, or even intend to in the future, it is quite an emotional drain, even if you win -- and you probably WILL win, but it's still gonna cost you, in money, wellbeing, and hours of your precious life. Do you think you have a sufficiently strong liability waiver with the buyer of your car? Well you don't have one with his heirs, or with the people in the other car in the accident.

If your attachable assets are less than a hundred grand, you are probably okay. If they're over a million, you're gambling that nobody will get hurt in a car or car project you sold. if you build and sell cars over and over again, every time you sell one you're shaking the dice in the cup.

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PostPosted: May 8, 2022, 5:50 am 
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Thank you Jack. The stuff nobody thinks about...

And then there is "vicarious Liability":
https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/why-a- ... oil-change

The free have nothing, except for maybe a trust fund?

What a mess.

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Miata UBJ: ES-2074R ('70s mazda pickup)
http://www.vsusp.com
ford IFS cheap viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13225&p=134742
Frame length x cockpit width x engine bay height (without hood/bonnet/cowl)
Lotus Super Seven: ?x39x7.25
Champion (Book): 114x42x11
Gibbs Haynes: 122x42x14
Voo Doo: 113x44x14
McSorley “442”122x46x14
Collins “241” 127x46x12


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