View Full Version : I need help in pricing a retaining wall

11-11-2006, 09:11 PM
I am a licensed landscape contractor and have been in business for 3 years. I know a little about building walls but nothing about pricing. The guy is wanting a 105' long wall out of pavestone blocks. The wall will be 3' tall. Any suggestions on pricing would be great. Also what is the best way to set the bottom row-- gravel, sand, crushed slate, I don't know. Also is there a better alternative to pavestone.

11-11-2006, 09:27 PM
Excavate. Dump in 4-6" of crushed concrete and compact. Sink the first course completely underground.

Avoid Pavestone, its ugly. Use something like Belgard. Incredible easy, and looks the best


11-12-2006, 06:58 AM
That is a whole lot of base block to install. Think hard about how many man hours it will take.

11-12-2006, 12:46 PM
That's my problem I don't know how many hours it will take.

11-12-2006, 01:48 PM
This is a pretty big project for your first wall. I would pass on it if i was you. I use allen block for what it is worth, and it would take 72 block per course and 5 courses high and one time of geo-gridding, with about 50 ton of aggregate. I think you will need some help leveling up 72 block, isnt easy for the first time since you really dont know what you are doing. If your starting out new i wouldnt take on anything longer than 25'/ 2-3' high for first time

02-03-2007, 03:11 PM
thanks for the input guys. But I went ahead and tackled the job. It was a piece of cake. Yeah it was hard work but once that first layer was down it went fast. thanks for the advice

02-03-2007, 03:18 PM
did you get any pics?

02-03-2007, 03:47 PM
here are a few of them

02-03-2007, 04:16 PM
Your pics only show a short section, but that doesn't appear to be a "retaining wall". Looks as though there is no backfill behind it. What was the purpose of the wall? Strictly decorative?

As far as the workmanship, the first thing that is very noticeable to me is the caps. You need to invest in a saw and a diamond blade so that you can cut the caps such that they flow with the curve of the wall. BTW, your curves don't seem to flow smoothly to well either.

02-03-2007, 04:23 PM
the wall was purely decorative. As far as the curves they look better in person as far as how they flow. The capstone could have used some work trying to make them fit. But the customer is completely satisfied.

02-03-2007, 05:17 PM
Customer is always "satisfied" .......allegedly... until they get on here or a local guy points out the obvious faults. Scary thing is you dont seem to think they are faults?

02-03-2007, 05:34 PM
What was your method of getting the base course level?

02-03-2007, 06:02 PM
Probably on of the worst installs I have seen! The yard is on a grade and it seems as if you have the wall running with the grade. NO, NO, NO! The wall itself is terribly wavy, caps are all over the place, large gaps between the blocks, I see a bunch of running bonds. Flat out awful! Sorry dude! Just being honest! If you want to improve then take a few classes and never "learn" a job on a paying customers property. Hypothetically, If I showed up on a job and that is what my guys did, I would make them tear it down and start over again...on their dime! I hope you learn from this and rethink your business strategies.


02-03-2007, 07:56 PM
Honestly, i'd stick to cutting grass if i was you.

I would not build another wall or any type of hardscape job if i was you until you take ICPI and NCMA.

And honestly, i think you need to drive around and look at the jobs in your town done by the top guys. Look at their work and see what the finish product looks like. I doubt it looks anything like your wall. To be succesfull in this industry it takes ALOT more than know how to stack blocks on top of each other. You need to have the gift of know what looks good. You need to beable to build walls with smooth curves that look good. Honestly, i belive some people have what it takes, and other don't.

02-03-2007, 07:59 PM
Amazing you got paid for that job and even more amazing that you would post pics of that cr*ppy job. I dont mean to come down on you but that work is probably the worst I have ever seen

02-03-2007, 08:09 PM
There are to many companys that try to do it all, (mowing, landscaping and hardscaping)
Not saying that it cant be done, but to do it, you really have to have things in line, with good people behind you.
If I cant do something perfectly, Im simply not going to do it.
Stick to what your good at, and make a name for yourself in that trade.

And if you dont have the eye for hardscaping to start with, ICPI or NCMA isnt going to help you.

I sincerely believe that to be an industry leader in Hardscapes that you must "have it" There isnt an hour of the day that goes by that I am not brainstorming about a Hardscape installation, hardscaping has become my life(unfortunately or fortunately?) Its something that everyone involved in, should take very serious, especially walls, Improperly installed walls put companys out of buisness and worse yet kill people.

I dont believe in telling someone that they do bad work ( I wouldnt do it to someones face and I wont type it on here) but you should decide for yourself wether you should being doing walls or not?

02-03-2007, 08:36 PM
i agree with the others... the workmanship on that job looks like a homeowner installed it.

everybody had to have thier first job, and i doubt they were perfect either, BUT those top caps (look at the very left section of wall where the wall comes towards the camera) are terrible......

if you cannot see that, or if you saw it and felt that it was acceptable... then you really should not be in this business.

02-03-2007, 11:47 PM
AWFUL!!! that is a shame. everything about it sux. the product is ugly. the placement is pointless. the installation is seriously flawed. have a little friggin pride. this is the type of job where the contractor says "screw it, I got paid I don't care what it looks like"
I am no expert but when I am in over my head, I bring someone in who is better than me. I know it seems like a simple wall, but obviously you don't have the proper tools and skills to do a simple wall like that. That means bring in someone else and learn from them.

02-04-2007, 12:48 AM
I appreciate the feedback. I wasn't looking to do any more of these and with the feedback I won't. We didn't have a clue how to lay the capstone and make it fit perfectly. As far as the cracks the customer wanted gaps in the stone for a textured look. As far as the curves.... we tried. Where can I take one of these ICPI courses just so I can learn a more so I can supervise the guys I sub out next time. Thanks

02-04-2007, 08:43 AM
ICPI isn't going to help. I would enlist a local contractor who has experience and see if you can tag along on jobs. better yet, get more of these jobs and sub them out with the condition that you can help out with the install in order to learn. I would also go to all major block manufacturer websites and download the installation guidlines and construction manuals for the wall product they sell. this will give you a basic knowledge of methods. the rest is feel and eye. if a curve looks good or a cap looks good, you will know it. if it looks bad, you should be able to determine why it looks bad. go around your area and look at other peoples work and pick out the flaws. all this should help your cause. some courses through ICPI also will help, but are no substitute for hands on experience. also check your local distributor for courses offered by manufacturers. Best of luck.