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View Full Version : Reatining wall quote for homeowner


jsmonroeCT
05-14-2005, 06:48 AM
Hi all. I'm a home owner and I just put out to bid a stone retaining wall that measures 25-30 ft long with the highest point being 7 feet (it slopes up hill so the highest point is 7 ft and lowest is 3ft to stay level) and will have new steps (about 8-10) created in the center of the wall (recomended by all contractors who bid on the job).

Of the 6 masons i called, 3 came to give an estimate and only 2 got back to me. Here is the dilemma. Of the two estimates, one came in at $6700 and one came in at $13,4xx, both including materials and labor. Both are providing the same service - removing the whole wall and existing steps, laying new wall and new steps, drainage, etc.

Since the prices are so far apart, which of these is the more realistic price? Ive seen examples of the work and both are very nice.

The stone were going to use is going to be field stone, which I was quoted at $90/ton. Also, how many tons of stone for a job like this? I just want to make sure that both masons are doing their homework and know what theyre doing.

Thanks.

Jeff

treedoc1
05-14-2005, 07:02 AM
I would be closer to your higher estimate. Quick calc shows that I would use around 16-18 tons of stone. Dig footings, rebar the footings, mortar the wall, weepholes along with the drain to daylight behind, debris disposal, etc.

YardPro
05-14-2005, 07:23 AM
if you are talking a SRW (keystone/ephenry/versalock, etc...) the wall needs to be engineered..... this will add $500-$1K to the job....

my suggestion is to get some referances and go LOOK at the contractors work....
seeing thier finished work is the best way to see what you're getting...

jsmonroeCT
05-14-2005, 07:55 AM
Thanks guys. I did looks at both masons' work and both are nice. The first estimate (the lowere one) calls me back the same day when I call, very quick to furnich references, etc. The second mason, the higher one, brought a very nice photo album with all their work but calls back at very late hours (after 9:30 at night), doesnt get back to you staright away when you have questions (waits almost 4-5 days), couldnt tell me what stone the sample were but was able to give me a price, etc.

treedoc1, the higher estimate came in around 30 tons of stone (which I think is a lot). Thoughts?

YardPro, were going to use field stone for the wall.

You will see the existing wall and the steps to be removed. The old wall is such crap that I can pull stones out by hand so I dont this removal will be hard.

treedoc1
05-14-2005, 09:28 AM
Don't underestimate the removal...you aren't thowing it up on a truck and then having to pay to dispose of it. Your pictures indicate around $1000 for demo and disposal in my area. We don't have much waste, but we are using our own product from our own quarry, the pallets don't have much filler. I get 20 face feet per pallet of 3000# from my own material. Adding in the steps from your photo will eat up stone in addition to the amount I indicated. That was just for the wall.

Why do you care about the amount of stone and how much it costs? If they underestimate are you going to pay for the extra? If they overestimate are you going to be left with a pile of refuse? Don't you just want the completed wall? That could be a difference betwen quotes.

As far as phone calls...it's hit or miss with me between Nextel's crappy coverage and being busy. After work is my best time to catch up. E-mail saves me with many clients. Call the references from both guys and ask how the site was kept clean during the project. Was the damaged turf reseeded, how was final cleanup, how did the length of the project last. In my opinion it's a crew of 4 for two weeks.

jsmonroeCT
05-14-2005, 12:58 PM
Treedoc1,

Thanks for the reply. I just returned from the stone quary and I have my answer to the reson in the price difference. Once mason is using field stone, which runs about $75 ton and the other is using stone that runs $265/ton.

I know I have/had a lot of questions but its a lot of money i'm spending. The guy were going to choose told me there is no overrun - if he underbid the job, then he wont charge me for material.

I do want to thank you for all your help - it has answered a lot of questions I had.

Jeff

TLS
05-14-2005, 01:10 PM
I don't know for sure, but I'd call for more estimates. Maybe the guy with the $13K bid doesn't really want the job, and bid sky high hoping NOT to get the bid. Thinking if he does get it, it'll be worth the aggravation.

I'd personally rather see a block (Versalok,EP Henry, etc) wall and steps there. Fieldstone isn't as "forever" as block, and finding someone knowledgeable with fieldstone is tough, where there are a LOT of guys into block walls.

jsmonroeCT
05-14-2005, 01:31 PM
I think the first does want the job but he was just using a different stone than I asked for. No big deal there - I'll just tell him what I want. I called another guy today, recomended by the rock quary, which will be the seventh guy I called.

I like the look of blocks myself but the wife isnt as partion to them - she likes the fieldstone look better.

Once agian, thanks for the help.

Jeff

kootoomootoo
05-15-2005, 12:05 AM
Thanks guys. I did looks at both masons' work and both are nice. The first estimate (the lowere one) calls me back the same day when I call, very quick to furnich references, etc. The second mason, the higher one, brought a very nice photo album with all their work but calls back at very late hours (after 9:30 at night), doesnt get back to you staright away when you have questions (waits almost 4-5 days), couldnt tell me what stone the sample were but was able to give me a price, etc.

treedoc1, the higher estimate came in around 30 tons of stone (which I think is a lot). Thoughts?

YardPro, were going to use field stone for the wall.

You will see the existing wall and the steps to be removed. The old wall is such crap that I can pull stones out by hand so I dont this removal will be hard.


The second mason, the higher one, brought a very nice photo album with all their work but calls back at very late hours (after 9:30 at night), doesnt get back to you staright away when you have questions (waits almost 4-5 days)

.......thought you were talking about me..... what do you think we are doing from 6.00am until 9.30pm...dont knock until you try it.

jsmonroeCT
05-15-2005, 08:21 AM
I wasnt knocking it at all and I didnt mean to come across that way. I guess everyone has their own idea of what late is regarding phone calls and after 9:00pm is late for me.

jsmonroeCT
06-11-2005, 07:57 AM
A few weeks back I posted a question on a retaining wall quote b/c I was confused about the wide range of prices. Anyway, since then, we have settled on a mason and I have been nothing but pleased. I wanted to thank all those who responded with ideas and suggestions and I wanted to post some pics of his work - hes only been working 1 week so far, inlcuding taking out the original wall (seen on the first post) - no equipment rental to remove the wall - all done by hand with chisels and sledgehammers.

Please let me know what you think:

The first pic is the base of the stairs, the second is of the wall and the third one side of the stairs.

jsmonroeCT
06-20-2005, 09:03 PM
Well,

The mason finally finished and I wanted to post a pic of his final work. It was three guys to break up the old wall and two guys to lay the new wall and stairs - total time from start to end was two weeks. I still need to finish the landscaping, which was decided when the project began.

Once again, thanks to everyone fo all the advice and suggestions.

Commonwealth LC
06-20-2005, 11:54 PM
the wall and steps looks good, congrats. that wall and surrounding area has the potential for some awesome landscaping. esp with the ledge on the wall you could put some nice potted plants there... great... hope you enjoy it!

jwholden
06-21-2005, 11:31 PM
The wall looks nice.

Which mason did you end up hiring? Why?

jsmonroeCT
06-23-2005, 06:30 AM
jwholden,

I used a mason out of Waterbury, CT. We chose him because of his attitude, professionalism, experience, work he's done in the past and most of all because he made us feel comfortable. Everything we were looking for.

Brother1
06-23-2005, 05:09 PM
That looks like a great finished product. If you don't mind sharing, I'd be interested in knowing what the total cost for the project was. Not the landscaping that you're going to do but what the cost was for the wall construction with labor and materials. Thanks -

jsmonroeCT
06-23-2005, 07:45 PM
Brother1,

You wouldnt believe me if I told you -

First let me begin that it was two masons from Albania - The owener and his father-in-law. These two took down the whole wall (they had a third family member helping for one day of demolition) in three full days and used no heavy equipment. It was all done by seldgehammer and chisel. I was amazed. Next, all rock from the old wall was used to build the back part of the wall, which is about 2 - 2 1/2 feet thick. One the front, he used field stone veneer, which he gets for around $90/ton and O&G industries (I priced a similar stone at a place called Haynes Materials for about the same price so I know he was true). He uses about 8-10 tons of stone for the wall, reused all the slate and the belgian blocks from the old walkway and steps, and bought 10 peice of blue stone, which ran for about $110/stone. to fase the risers, he used 1 tone of stone, which was about $200/ton. The grand total was...

$7,200 for all labor and materials. Also, any stone that was left over, I told him he could have - what the heck was I going to do with it. There were only about 10 peices left.

The price was not the reason I chose him - he had the job the minute he got out of his truck, started the introductions and began speaking of his experience.

He was the most professional mason that came and gave us an estimate.

treedoc1
06-24-2005, 05:35 PM
Feel good for your great deal. After seeing the photo I would have been just over 10K for the project.
Enjoy it.