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Kit Building Service - Is there a demand for this service

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Kit Building Service - Is there a demand for this service

Old 08-07-2016, 02:17 PM
  #1  
CalvaryCustoms
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Default Kit Building Service - Is there a demand for this service

Hello, I have been building planes for about 30 years for myself and friends, and I am just curious if there would be a demand for a Building Service. I have included several examples of my work. Just looking for opinions on this matter.

Thank You,
Tim

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Old 08-07-2016, 07:17 PM
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DavidAgar
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Kits are be coming extinct as well as kit builders. I am one of the diehards and I still build kits. The ARFs are taking over with simplicity, completeness, and ease of assembly, and as the years have passed, they are getting better with the quality. For me building is therapy as well as a sense of pride in admiring what I have completed. As for your business idea, it would be hard to say one way or the other. You may want to post some ads in the hobby magazines and see where it goes. Your photo gallery is impressive and I would wish you the best of luck. Dave
Old 08-07-2016, 08:04 PM
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RagwingFan
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Though things have changed, I do see posts from time to time looking for a builder. I built back in 90's for local hobby shop and others. Tough part was trying even make minimum wage. It covered my addiction but that was about it. There seems to be a market for those in Top Gun type competitions. Thats a whole different level from sport flyers.

I am sure you have thought through the whole process as far as stages of building all the way to the shipping process(always a cost factor and many times prohibitive).

I think you can fill a need for the right pricing and turn around times, especially if looking to do on your terms at a "small" scale vs blown out building business with employees.

I still build and love to build. Something about creating a product yourself and the satisfaction when it has its successful maiden.

Best of luck which ever direction you go.
Old 08-08-2016, 10:07 AM
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For the next year things are pretty stable regarding the FAA. However, next year the funding issue will come up again and with it the attempts by many to profit on our hobby. One of those attempts this year, which I'm sure will come up again, was to require kit "manufacturers" to go through a certification process on every kit. I would not bet on building for profit being exempted. Doing anything for profit in our hobby is scrutinized as being a non-hobby related activity and can be regulated. Building for profit could easily be considered manufacturing.
Old 08-08-2016, 12:39 PM
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Tim

I am aging and primarily interested in control line and combat balsa models. Also have more kits than I can build. That, and I totally suck at building a strong straight wing

I have thought abought contracting out just the wing build on several of my models but always concerned about the cost

Most are fairly simple 36 to 48 inch wing span but I have a very particular formula for the bell crank, mounting and lead out terminations
Old 08-08-2016, 03:08 PM
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foodstick
 
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Calvary, If you can find a Dr. or Dentist that knows what amount of work it takes !

All kidding aside, there is a market for it.. but it will depend on how good of a buyer you find... or how cheap you want to build. There are people with the money and desire.. so you just need to find those people.

My father in law ran a deli for a long time, and when it comes to business he always said....
"If you can't keep up...you aren't charging enough !"
Old 08-08-2016, 05:09 PM
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JCOKEEFE
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I have been building kits and flying for over 35 years. If the time comes when kits are no longer available, that is when I get out of the hobby. I have never bought an arf and never will. I simply get too much satisfaction from building and flying what I build.
Old 08-09-2016, 12:46 AM
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3136
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Hey Calvary, nice idea !!! I wish someone paid me to build planes. Seriously, there are that many ARF models around you would need to find someone VERY VERY fussy who wanted a particular model that was only sold in kit form. That fussy person may be hard to deal with. Something most builders don't consider is how their work is judged by other builders. I bought a cub once that someone else built, it was so badly put together I just set fire to it. I'm not saying you would be a bad builder, but beware what a paying customer may want/think.
I think the detailing part of building is where you could concentrate on, such as glassing, panel lines, paint work, and the all important weathering. Those are skills which some people find hard to master, or just couldn't be bothered with. Once again if you consider the hours VS the pay, it really wouldn't be worth while.
I really really hope you prove me wrong though.
Old 08-09-2016, 02:26 AM
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Most prospective buyers won't want to pay for decent work. $20.00 an hour is more than fair, but few are willing to pay it.
Old 08-09-2016, 10:19 AM
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Waco
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back before ARFs I built kits for modelers in the area that did not want to build, after a couple of years I soon got burned out and quit. what used to be fun soon became a burden and some people you could not please no matter how hard you tried, than there is that guy that says no hurry but than calls every night wondering when you are going to get his plane done. Most did not want to pay much for the build and wanted everything perfect. I don't care how good you think you are I can find something to complain about the build. there is no way I would ever build for others again.
Old 08-09-2016, 11:56 AM
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rye
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amen Waco
last one i did for a friend ended that friend ship now just me or my son i build for, couldnt make him happy even if i pay for the kit, glues, covering and the frist gallon of fuel ,people change as soon as money is involed ,i aways said u see the real person as soon as moneys come into play,
Old 08-10-2016, 12:13 PM
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Bax
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Originally Posted by TomCrump View Post
Most prospective buyers won't want to pay for decent work. $20.00 an hour is more than fair, but few are willing to pay it.
Especially if you're going to build a kit that takes a substantial amount of time. Even some sport-scale models will take 100 hours or so. Will you find someone to pay you $2,000.00 for that Top Flite Giant P-51, detailed and painted to a nice level? For true scale detailing, then the price will go way, way up, since the time will go up.
Old 08-14-2016, 05:39 AM
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TonyBuilder
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You really can't put a scale price on building (per hour fee). Will a client pay you $3k to build a kit scaled out and well built, designed/ engineered? I think the market for assembling an ARF is more wanted then the scale kit. This is a highly modified RTC



You can do a lot with a RTC kit that cuts down the build time but allows the builder to do the scale modifications to the builders/ clients desire.

Again you really can't put a hourly cost to these kits. I use to build all the planes I fly but I don't have the time so I stopped building and went to ARF jets



Most jets are all composite and for the most part are assembly only. CARF kits take a long time to "assemble" and can be highly modified, so the market has changed and kit building services are not limited to stick framed kits.

I get asked all the time to assemble kits/ARF and could do so year round but I don't have the time and the payoff is not there, believe me if I could do it full time and make 50k a year I would

TB
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Last edited by TonyBuilder; 08-14-2016 at 09:26 AM.
Old 08-14-2016, 05:46 PM
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I did quite a bit of building and finishing for people years ago. I wanted to mostly do covering and painting but also built a kit or two, did some scratch type building/finishing, and just painted a few more.

It sucks. After the job is done they don't want to pay you or pick up the plane. I had to send registered letters to more than one person. I didn't charge very much for what I did but when a person in a $20,000 SUV pulls up and can't pay a couple of hundred dollars for a big job that is ridiculous. My biggest job was to finish building and fiberglass/paint a Bud Nosen Corsair. It took me 18 months of every spare minute I had. When it was all done the guy was squealing about the cost of the materials which was nearly twice my labor charge. I had written everything down as I used it and showed it to him. Heck, epoxy paint is expensive. I could have made just as much money working at Burger King for about 1 month as I did on that Corsair. The worst part was that it ruined me to building for many years. I hated it after that Corsair. I quit building RC airplanes and started building furniture. It was a long time before I got interested in building or flying again.

My objectives when I decided to start building for others was simply to be able to keep building and spend someone else's money for materials instead of my own. I was out of work for nearly a year while I was doing this. I met my objective with interest but didn't make squat as far as money was concerned. I wouldn't even consider doing it in the future. These days, I help out club members who can't fix something themselves but only if it interests me and won't take more than a month out of my time.

Here's the plane that killed me.

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Old 08-24-2016, 02:17 PM
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J330
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http://shop.balsausa.com/category_s/71.htm

Kits are still around and reasonably priced. Building chores require a good deposit for materials, and 1/2 of the labor up front. If they're delinquent, you're ahead to be able to sell the plane off for the balance owed with ease.
There is no ARF that compares to a kit and the more vintage you can find one, it seems the balsa was of a better selection and wisely thought out in making the kit. Kits last considerably longer than ARFs for many reasons. I don't know anyone who could call building kits a living. It's a common thing in today's rushed world, people just want a little electric foamy for the park or back yard.

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Old 09-02-2016, 05:34 PM
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There would be more of a market in cutting kits than building them. The only ones that would make for decent builds are planes you just can't find as an ARF, or those who want a giant scale, but don't have the room to build one, like a B-25 or P-61. If you can build to the point that it can be assembled as an ARF, more than likely you will find buyers.
Old 09-06-2016, 09:15 AM
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I've actually looked around for someone to build a plane for me. At the time I felt it was beyond my capabilities to build myself. Quoted prices were not cheap! But then, considering it's a niche market and you're talking about specialized skills and experienced/talented builders... I was not expecting it to be cheap. I admit my reaction was "ouch!" at first, but I don't feel the prices were outrageous when you consider all the factors.

I'll never understand people that are explained the cost variables up front, but later complain about the final cost anyway. If it's all documented and in the open... how can they even think they have a leg to stand on? Sheesh.
Old 09-09-2016, 02:16 PM
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I would think the cost of shipping would get pretty high.
Old 09-09-2016, 03:54 PM
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Thats why I suggested building it like an ARF, so it can be easily shipped as ARF are. The customer would need to do some assembly, but the hardest part would be the building and covering.
Old 09-15-2016, 03:22 AM
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Yeah, that sounds good! It's something I would take advantage of because i'm not that great of a builder. I have a BUSA 1/4 scale Nieuport 17 that is a little above my skills. I have the top wing halves completed that's all. I would like to find a builder in my area that would finish it for me, i'd gladly pay!
Old 09-17-2016, 01:06 PM
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You might make enough to recover costs plus a little extra for beer. But if you actually need to make money at it you would be better off getting a job at Home Depot or Walmart. And as they say, there is nothing like working in your hobby to ruin a perfectly good hobby. Just my opinion - I could be wrong.
Old 09-17-2016, 05:33 PM
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If someone wanted me to build them a plane, I would do it, they would need to pony up the materials and hardware, radio, servos, everything to get it flying and I would build it for them for a small fee for shop use, but that's just me, I wouldn't do it to make a living at.

If there was anything that I would do as a business it would be to actually laser cut the kits and sell them, but that is it, it takes too much time to build to be able to recoup time for money.
Old 09-27-2016, 05:50 AM
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Every person I have heard of that did this as a "job" for others ended up getting burnt out and it left a very bad taste in their mouths! Most quit building all together and some even left the hobby. I would seriously look at your motivations and go from there. It would be a shame to spoil such a neat hobby!

Speaking from my own experiences as I have built quite a few things for others......it leaves you little to no time for your own things. Especially when you've got an impatient person your dealing with.
Old 09-27-2016, 03:49 PM
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J330
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Originally Posted by acdii View Post
If someone wanted me to build them a plane, I would do it, they would need to pony up the materials and hardware, radio, servos, everything to get it flying and I would build it for them for a small fee for shop use,
I've been there, and it's still not worth it. To this day, 2 years later, the plane remains where he didn't want me to go further "until he got some more money and had time to proceed." The engine, servos, covering stage, are all done,
only things that remains are attaching pushrods to the control horns, picking up 3" wheels, and getting the CG right so he can go fly, that's it! So close, yet so far far away.

I figured since he had everything else, the wheels and control horns wouldn't be "out of budget." I didn't charge him a dime. It actually bothered me more than him that it wasn't done and never had a maiden flight.
Old 09-27-2016, 04:49 PM
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I guess I will chime in on topic. When I first got in hobby back in early 90's, I started building for a friend who would rather pilot. That worked to my advantage, I liked to build. great partnership. I then met a owner of a small local hobby shop. We became good friends and started the barter system. That then grew into referrals from the LHS owner.

I was particular on what I would build. I had to appreciate/like the subject aircraft in question.

Long story short, I was younger then, had limited funds for the hobby. So building for others allowed me to finance my needs in the hobby. With that said, I probably averaged $5/hr. I built off and on for about 6-8 years. Only reason I stopped building was a leave of absence from the hobby I took due to family and kid priorities. Not building for others these days. Just trying to sneak in enough time to build my own projects.

IMO, you need to find those with disposable income and appreciation for the amount of time and craftsmanship it takes to create a quality aircraft from a kit. If not, trying to make minimum wage will always be a struggle. definitely always had all materials covered in advance.

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