View Full Version : SRW help

03-11-2006, 10:51 AM
I have a retaining wall that I'm second guessing my price structure with.

It's a larger wall than what we are used to doing and the project is just the retaining wall. For some reason I'm not sure about my numbers.

The wall is 170 long. With a total of 555 face feet including the base.

I figure my total materials as $6578 (4.45 block, 3.75 per cap).
953 Block
163 Block
Anchor 6" block. Grey color.

45 Tons of stone.

45 cubic yards of soil / fill.

I come up with man hours of 168.
Cost of labor at $2520.
Overhead recovery $3024.
Total price I come up with is $17426.

Here's my dilema:

Seems like a lot work for a little profit.
For some reason I'm thinking man hours are off.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

03-11-2006, 12:51 PM
My first thought is labor. With 168 man hours in the project, it averages to $15.00 per hour. Since I don't know how many guys on site, or what they are paid, I can't break that number apart any more, but in all honesty, that number seems low. Add comp, FICA and all the associated Nazi fees we are required to collect for the worker, then supplement to the government and I'm betting it costs you more like $20.00 give or take.

The next thing is I don't see anything in there for time the machines run. Assuming the acess is good, and the staging area is close with no obstructions you will have at least 20 machine hours on the job. I spearate machine hours from overhead recovery so I can see more effectively, what machines are making me money and are most efficient, also, so I can recover the overhead for the time each of them runs and all associated high wear parts that will need to be replaced, such as tires, tracks, oil changes, etc. I also consider fuel for those machines as direct job costs, simply because fuel used for one job will vary significantly from one job to the next.

Next, when you say the project is "just" a retaining wall, it makes me assume that all back cuts have been done, preferably stepped in 2' benches so you will minimalize differential separation as the wall settles.

As I see you wall costs itemized, I only see gravel dirt quantities not the associated costs for trucking and product costs. Said that, I see you are importing soils as fill and I assume you are filling a slope to make it flat. Have you taken into account the spoils you are removing from the leveling pad and can you use those as back fill? And, have you calculated the machinery and time associated with back fill compaction in the total time you have for the wall?

168 hours assuming all I mentioned is not out of the box. It's about one working week project if all is close to the toe of the wall. Industry standards cost wise, you are at $31.00 per SF, and most walls with easy access, one week of labor in and out, should be selling between $40.00 and $50.00 per SF.

I've used the SF unit of measure to WAG the job for you, but there seems to be something out of the box with the price.

03-11-2006, 01:15 PM
Bill -

Thanks for the response. The labor rate is accurate and assumes the nasty's of FICA, FUTA, SUTA. We're in a middle sized midwestern town. Crew leader is $13.50. Laborers are $9.50 to $9.00.

Costs include all materials and associated delivery fees.

The fill does include a portion of what's excavated being put back in.

Out here I am seeing actual estimates of $16 to $25 a face foot for this type of work. I can't figure out how they are doing it.

Yet even with my numbers it still seems like a lot of work for little $.

Any additional input is greatly appreciated.


03-11-2006, 02:44 PM
I really think you need to look at your numbers again. I figured for 555 sq. ft of block you'll need 800 blocks with a 10% waste figured in. Also you'll only need 35 tons of stone. The fill dirt looks right. Also it should only take about 120hrs to do it. What is the wall height? I figure it has to be in the 3 to 4 ft area. Is there any geogrid? I would say you sound a little high. I would say closer to 12000 and you should still make good money. Your guys a slacking if it takes them a 168 hrs.

03-11-2006, 06:49 PM
If its a commercial project then you can expect to see the competitions prices in the $18-$25/face foot range. The Commercial wall building sector is filled with whores. My residential pricing is more in line with the $40-$50, depending on site conditions, access, grid requirements, and infill materials.


03-11-2006, 07:37 PM
If its a commercial project then you can expect to see the competitions prices in the $18-$25/face foot range. The Commercial wall building sector is filled with whores. My residential pricing is more in line with the $40-$50, depending on site conditions, access, grid requirements, and infill materials.


Exactly right for this area. $18 is common.

03-11-2006, 07:42 PM
Ben-Honestly i think your hours are off. I did a 450 face foot wall solo in 85 hours and that included riping down a old rail road tie wall, wheel barreling all the block and base material in. I skid sterred in 30ish yards of 3/4 stone and 20 yards of top soil. Of course i worked my arse off for 8 straight days.


03-11-2006, 08:22 PM
One block covers .67 SF = 828. Figure with 15% waste a total of 953. Sorry I failed to mention the size of block.

1.3 - 1.4 Tons per Cubic Yard. 35 cubic yards = approximately 45 tons.

$12,000 ? You already have the material costs, labor costs, and overhead burden costs spelled out. The cost of the job is at $12,122?? You would be losing money!

Anyone doing these things for $18 per face foot is simply loosing money.

86 hours???? I find that hard to believe.

Let's get back on track here.

I sense that the man hours might be low at 168?? Anyone have hard verifiable proof otherwise. Bill seemed to allude that it's about right on.

If the man hours (the variable I'm uncertain with) and costs (please just assume this dollar figure of $6578 is correct) are relatively accurate it translates into roughly a net of 29%. That is assuming man hours are relatively accurate.

03-11-2006, 08:43 PM
105 hours,
22 per face foot
In the land of the jayhawk

03-11-2006, 09:12 PM
I'm guessing it's going to take you about a week to complete (4 guys for 40 odd hours) and your expected profit would be around 5k in a week, is that right? That sounds like decent money to me (5k x 32 weeks=$160k profit for the biz, minus taxes). If you're used to making more than that per week, then you might need to reevaluate, otherwise I think you're fine.

03-12-2006, 12:16 PM
So does anyone have a standard method for estimating total man hours on the job?

To simply base a price off of S.F. is as Bill would say a WAG.

For example: x' of base course per x man hour, x SF of wall per x man hour, 1 C.Y. fill per x man hours. Amount of fill that can be moved per hour with machine? Etc. What values are industry standard for 'x'?

Come on! How about a proven and profitable system for estimating man hours. After all in the end we're just reselling time and materials.

03-12-2006, 12:41 PM
Since the bulk of our SRW work is on challenged access site with the use of cranes, helocopters, and alot of power buggies running materials, the system we have would not work for the average SRW builder. But really, all we are doing is the same thing, just more time involved with a challenged access site. So, in a wide open space job, you would have the set up time just as we would in a challenged site. And if you are doing your own excavation I would suggest keeping it separate from the wall pricing since it is a different part of the work. You then have materials. What I label as logisitics for materials. On a wide open site, if you can run trucks to the wall for bulk, and if your supplier can drop wall near the leveling pad, just calc the delivery fee into the cost of the wall. On a challenged site, we calc time of the power buggies, operators time, excavators time and all machine time usage. WE use the speed the machine works on average to achieve these based from jobs we have worked. Then you have the leveling pad. We use a product called Speed Base, a system of rails where you shoot the front and back rail to get them level, compact your gravel inbetween the rails, then pull a trolley over the base to level the block. This eliminates hammer whackage because the base you have is perfectly level. The engineers screw us up more than anything, because they can't ever make it to the site we work when we need them. If we have the trench all whacked, we need a sign off on hardness before we can compact base. Then after the base is installed, we need a sign off on the base before we can build a wall. Every 3 courses is the typical hieght we are allowed to go before the engineer has to get another soils test. So, basically, for every section of grid, we need to check soils hardness before we get allowed to keep building. So all this time gets calced in. You then have a compaction cost, and this is usually based off what equipment you are running to slam the soil. In my opinion, you can't have enough toys in the toy box to get 90% more efficiently. When one toy won't work, or is too slow, you grab the next one and proceed on.

There is no real system. Every single job is different than the next, every soils type has just a little different idiosyncecy . We take similar situations from past work and use those to tabulate figures on new work. After the wall is done, and only after, is when we can take all the data, all the expense and break it down into an SF figure.

The larger the wall you do, as a rule, the more accurate the SF price holds as long as all entry criteria are similar. And in all honesty, that works in our area, in our operations. Though I may have left something out of the mix, I'm winging this getting ready to hit the snow in the mountains toay, you get the idea. It might not be anywhere in the ball park in your operations, it's what we do.

03-13-2006, 05:54 PM
At the average one person can lay about 5 sq. ft. a hour. I know alot people are going to say they can lay it faster then that, but like I said it is a average. That includes back filling, geogrid, and laying the base. So for example a 500 sq. ft. wall should take around a 100 man hr. That doesn't include excavation.

03-13-2006, 07:32 PM
You said the wall was 175 long how high? Do you have to haul away any material for excavation? Is there any surcharge on it?

03-17-2006, 11:16 AM
Thanks for the insight on this guys!

On Tuesday we secured the deal with a signed contract and 20% down. Total price ended up being $17400 with a late April start date.

Thanks again.