PDA

View Full Version : Someone expressed interest in starting up and told me the going prices


Flow Control
12-05-2006, 02:44 PM
Typical yard 80x130 going price: $1100-1300. 4 zones. I had a talk with the guy and tried to explain to him that it is not worth it to do installs at that price and told him if he was stuck on irrigation that trying to build a service company might work out better for him. What would you guys have advised.

Mdirrigation
12-05-2006, 04:40 PM
At $ 1100 to $ 1300 for a 4 zone system I would tell him not to give up his day job . When i started in 1981 , 25 years ago 4 zones would have been
$ 1600 to $ 2000 . Today that would be 3 grand . Now pricing is regional , but equipment , supplies , trucks and fuel dont change that much .

Total.Lawn.Care
12-05-2006, 04:51 PM
Agreed. Although, down here, we are about $500-$550 per zone. Still, 4 zones turns his $1300 into $2000. $700 makes a big difference in a days work.

Flow Control
12-05-2006, 05:03 PM
This guy was from SW Florida

Wet_Boots
12-05-2006, 05:03 PM
Those are going prices? Where? (going down the tubes, I'd think) - but if it was Florida, that might not be so horribly low. Down there, just go for service. Be a tech for someone as long as you'd need to gain the needed job experience to start out on your own.

londonrain
12-05-2006, 06:09 PM
Typical yard 80x130 going price: $1100-1300. 4 zones. I had a talk with the guy and tried to explain to him that it is not worth it to do installs at that price and told him if he was stuck on irrigation that trying to build a service company might work out better for him. What would you guys have advised.I talked with a guy who moved here from Florida and he said the going rate was about $300 a zone and he was happy we are getting $500-$600 a zone here.

Mjtrole
12-05-2006, 07:21 PM
Sorry, but there is no such thing as the "going rate" it's an urban myth.

Flow Control
12-05-2006, 07:40 PM
Sorry, but there is no such thing as the "going rate" it's an urban myth.
Let me say it in another way:

3 Jobs all the same size lot

1. 1100
2. 1100
3. 1300

This is a guy that currently does fencing. So he asked the last three owners what they had paid for the system.

Mjtrole
12-05-2006, 09:15 PM
Let me say it in another way:

3 Jobs all the same size lot

1. 1100
2. 1100
3. 1300

This is a guy that currently does fencing. So he asked the last three owners what they had paid for the system.

Wow that's pretty low and I know the material pricing is the same down there, with all the pricing increases in materials this year that seems really low, but, you could do three a day if they are four zones.

I wouldn't believe a homeowner, they don't like to be told they overpaid for anything.

Wet_Boots
12-05-2006, 10:26 PM
I've been in SW Florida, and flew home with my carry-on full of Marlex elbows, given how much cheaper they were compared to locally, at the time. Service would hold the most potential, thinks I, given the market saturation, and the natural shortage of guys what fix things.

Wet_Boots
12-06-2006, 12:37 PM
By the way, the Marlex courier flight was over fifteen years ago, when local Marlex stocking was spotty, and Sch 40 still had that wacky pricing, with discounts beginning at eighty percent off list. Florida would use something like 80/20/10/10/10 for the larger accounts. Some of my local outfits actually wanted to sell Marlex at forty percent off list, which was their generic whole goods discount. Turning down the opportunity to pay triple the correct price wasn't hard. :hammerhead:

Precision
12-06-2006, 09:10 PM
There is a local guy advertising $1395 for irriation intalled on a "typical" 75x100 lot.

Hank Reardon
12-06-2006, 09:50 PM
There is a local guy advertising $1395 for irriation intalled on a "typical" 75x100 lot.

:laugh: Our "typical" installation is higher than that per zone (average)! :laugh: Why would you even bother...

Sadly, some homeowners don't care they aren't licensed, insured, bonded, etc.

Precision
12-07-2006, 09:06 AM
:laugh: Our "typical" installation is higher than that per zone (average)! :laugh: Why would you even bother...

Sadly, some homeowners don't care they aren't licensed, insured, bonded, etc.

I often wonder what his typical installation is.
zone 1, 4 corner rotors
Zone 2, 8 popups around the house's slab
and huge coverage gaps

Hank Reardon
12-07-2006, 10:05 AM
I'm sure they resemble the job we started this week. A complete re-do on a system installed less than three years ago. Waterfront (2nd) home and the "irrigation "contractor" installed 4 K-Rain rotors (FC) on the front lawn to cover everything. Of course to keep the grass green (entire property on a hill going down to the water) they had to have longer run times causing serious rilling in the beds. To ice the cake, no low drain checks so 150'+ laterals drained on the lower ones (about 6' drop in elevation).

There were so many problems we are able to save very little. On the initial site visit, I knew the quality of work when I opened the VB and gazed upon HIT valves, followed by the controller hanging at 7'.

Tommy Boy
12-07-2006, 10:14 PM
I pretty much go $650 for the first zone, $600 per zone after that on existing yards. Problem installs are more, I will not ***** myself or my company low balling work. My guys and I do quality work, if you want it we get what we ask or the equipment stays on the trucks. I do have a better price for new construction and commercial accounts. I tell folks, you will get what you pay for, little more now or a lot later. Just my 2 cents worth..... Plumb on!

Mr. Vern
12-07-2006, 11:01 PM
There is a local guy advertising $1395 for irriation intalled on a "typical" 75x100 lot.
I like guys like that. They flush out all of the bargain hunters with their ads. As far as I'm concerned they can have all of the people that want the service they provide. It doesn't take long to explain to people why you are more expensive if you do quality work.

Hank Reardon
12-07-2006, 11:41 PM
Reminds me of someones signature, "Cheap ain't good and good ain't cheap".

Let the bottom feeders have'm!

Rainman7
12-08-2006, 08:51 AM
Here on Long Island "another one of richest areas of the country", I have been finding it hard to get $350/zone even with all the price increases. There are some select areas that I am able to get $400-$600, but they are far and few between and require larger mains and valves ect..
I know for a fact that I lost many jobs to some smaller and larger companies this year because my price was too high!!! I am talking about "standard zones", 4-5 rotors ,6-9 mist/zone and a double check in the house on the main. Some areas have different, more costly backflow requirements but this is in addition to the standard pricing.
I dont know what a standard zone is for you guys that get upwards of $600/zone, but thats something I dream of. My uncle just had a 6 zone system installed in his house in N.C. and it cost him $3000!!! To me thats unheard of. I told him I would have driven my box truck down there and done it for that!!
I dont know if its lack of licensing requirements or the incredible amount of competition or both, but I am actually thinking of moving if something doesnt change here. Having to sell and install a minimum of two jobs a day is getting old. I would much rather sell one job a day, take my time, and make the same $$$.

londonrain
12-08-2006, 12:34 PM
I see a lot of companies come and go in my area.
Pay me now or pay me later.

Without A Drought
12-08-2006, 01:15 PM
Here on Long Island "another one of richest areas of the country", I have been finding it hard to get $350/zone even with all the price increases. There are some select areas that I am able to get $400-$600, but they are far and few between and require larger mains and valves ect..
I know for a fact that I lost many jobs to some smaller and larger companies this year because my price was too high!!! I am talking about "standard zones", 4-5 rotors ,6-9 mist/zone and a double check in the house on the main. Some areas have different, more costly backflow requirements but this is in addition to the standard pricing.
I dont know what a standard zone is for you guys that get upwards of $600/zone, but thats something I dream of. My uncle just had a 6 zone system installed in his house in N.C. and it cost him $3000!!! To me thats unheard of. I told him I would have driven my box truck down there and done it for that!!
I dont know if its lack of licensing requirements or the incredible amount of competition or both, but I am actually thinking of moving if something doesnt change here. Having to sell and install a minimum of two jobs a day is getting old. I would much rather sell one job a day, take my time, and make the same $$$.



Talking to people here and elsewhere across the country, i've become convinced that the Tri-State, specifically north/central New Jersey is one of the most expensive areas. Not to talk myself up, but i can regularly get $700 a zone for add-ons, around 100/head on installs, and 100/hour.

Now, Through the course of the season, customers come and go because of my prices, but the ones that go usually come back in a year or two after the poor service from the other companies. And our area is flooded with irrigation contractors.

I would think that Long Island would be similar in market. although, in 30 years, i've never been to LI., save JFK airport.

pg

Wet_Boots
12-08-2006, 01:46 PM
Is there a 'sandy-soil' connection to low install prices? I could never envision charging less than $100 a head. I'd refocus and try to deal primarily with service, if installs were too cheap.

Mr. Vern
12-08-2006, 02:57 PM
Here on Long Island "another one of richest areas of the country", I have been finding it hard to get $350/zone even with all the price increases. There are some select areas that I am able to get $400-$600, but they are far and few between and require larger mains and valves etc..
I know for a fact that I lost many jobs to some smaller and larger companies this year because my price was too high!!! I am talking about "standard zones", 4-5 rotors ,6-9 mist/zone and a double check in the house on the main. Some areas have different, more costly backflow requirements but this is in addition to the standard pricing.
I don't know what a standard zone is for you guys that get upwards of $600/zone, but thats something I dream of. My uncle just had a 6 zone system installed in his house in N.C. and it cost him $3000!!! To me thats unheard of. I told him I would have driven my box truck down there and done it for that!!
I don't know if its lack of licensing requirements or the incredible amount of competition or both, but I am actually thinking of moving if something doesn't change here. Having to sell and install a minimum of two jobs a day is getting old. I would much rather sell one job a day, take my time, and make the same $$$.
I don't bid by zone, but I track the per zone price of my estimates as a sanity check. I never get less than $700/zone, and usually get far above that. A typical install will be a double check on the manifold, Brass shutoff valve, an Orbit indoor/outdoor timer, Rainbird 1" JarTop valves, 1" mainlines with 3/4" laterals, swing joints and usually 7-14 1804 spray heads with VAN nozzles. If rotary heads are used it will usually be around 4-5 per station. We paint the pipes and manual on/off levers of the valves to denote which circuit it goes to(matching the wire color to the timer), and when necessary build custom valve boxes to cover the whole deal.
The guys just finished a 1000 sqft job with one valve and 13 1804's, timer, valve box and sod. Grade was fine except for what we disrupted with our trenching. I had 2 guys on the job - 1 an experienced "Landscape Tech", the other a brand new laborer (great kid) for 1 day + had the sod laid for us. Total bill $3500. In our market I could book jobs like this all day long if I had the time to bid them. This one I did as a favor to a friend who had sprayed the lawn to kill Bermuda and then tore out the grass but could not get around to doing the install, so he asked me to bid it. After I was done he asked the price and I told him - he said "wow, I was gonna charge $4500". I said thanks for the tip, I only did it cheap as a favor to you.LOL
I said all of this to say that the market here is HUGELY in the contractor's favor. The only thing that limits our growth is the shortage of employees, and especially estimators. You might need to either move or change professions if the market is that competitive in your area.
There is a great book that I highly recommend; it's called "Good to Great". It has several great points, but one key premise is that great companies ask themselves "what can we be the best at", and then "what can we be passionate about". They found that many companies had "core competencies", but they discovered that they could not sufficiently differentiate themselves within their markets (being the best), so they actually had to change their core competency. It's a very interesting and insightful book that I highly recommend. You might consider getting the book and reading it and then take a good hard objective look at your business and see if the answer doesn't't become clear.
I actually grew up in upsate New York. When my folks first came out here and my dad saw my sprinklers his reaction was "you mean their underground". I laugh about it, but it might shed some insight into the market differences. Back there sprinklers are like central AC, nice to have but not required. Out here you have two choices. Sprinklers, or brown. The market has to be orders of magnitude larger here.
One last tidbit. I have found that if I keep my schedule fully booked for 3-6 weeks, I get the higher paying jobs. Successfully doing this alone can actually as much as double your profits. The reason is that if you run out of work you have to keep crews busy, or risk losing them so you bid lower to minimize the impact. If you're booked out 6 weeks you don't care if you get this job because you have 6 more weeks to fill the schedule. If you're profit margins are 20% then all you need is another 20% markup and you double your profit. Much easier to do if you are booked out and can pick the jobs you want to do. I actually have my office screen calls for me. They ask a series of questions to flush out the jobs we really want and then I will bid them right away. During the busy season the non-primo jobs will get a first consult pushed out as much as 3-4 weeks. This keeps the door open if they are adamant about having us do it, and when I consult with them I know they are serious if they waited that long, so I can get my price. Again, this only works if you stay booked out far enough in advance.
Hope some of this helps.

Ground Master
12-08-2006, 05:08 PM
why a double check? why not pvb or rp?
why orbit timer? why not rainbird of hunter?
why VAN nozzles? why not use the correct fixed nozzle?

Wet_Boots
12-08-2006, 06:38 PM
Come to think of it, since when has California allowed the use of Double Check Valve Assembly backflow preventers? They got that whole U.S.C. F.C.C.C. thing going on over there.

The more nozzles they come out with, the more I can see someone going with the VAN types, just to simplify.

Orbit timers will raise an eyebrow, especially with a decent entry-level controller like a Hunter SRC Plus around (love the built-in remote operation capability it has) Good Rainbird controllers, too, for low cost, if Hunter doesn't please, and the remote operation doesn't matter.

Flow Control
12-08-2006, 08:33 PM
We all have our own preferences and codes vary from town to town (dual checks were code here less then 8 years ago), list everything you like and I am sure we can make you a list too. I enjoyed reading his post, orbit or no orbit:laugh:

Wet_Boots
12-08-2006, 09:04 PM
I've seen an Orbit clock that looked a level beyond trash, and backflow standards can be debated until the next millenium, and it still can wind up being whatever some local municipal pinhead demands. Yep, keep adding to the information base, sez I.

Flow Control
12-08-2006, 10:21 PM
sez I.

Is that a Big Foot quote?

Dirty Water
12-08-2006, 10:30 PM
The best orbit clock is about as nice as the cheapest hunter timer.

Mr. Vern
12-11-2006, 03:16 AM
Simple answers folks. Somehow I got ahold of an Orbit indoor/outdoor timer once and found that it was the simplest thing in the world to program and it actually looks a LOT more impressive than the others I have seen(customers perceive value in that). I Can easily talk an 80 year old lady through programming it over the phone. Never had a call back on a single one. Had one arrive DOA - that puts the failure rate at fractions of a percent. Not too familiar with the Hunter, absolutely hate the Rainbird for programming, so why not use the Orbit? VANs are the most versatile to stock, yeah they cost a couple dimes more, but think of how much less inventory I have to carry - now multiply that times how many crews you have and it just makes sense. Double checks are all our local code currently requires, it's easy to install, inexpensive and it's legal. Let's be honest with our selves; the average citizen does not worry about backflow prevention, if you build it to code they will not perceive any additional value in adding a PVB or otherwise.
Jon - not sure what Hunter clocks you are using, but the ones that I have encountered look like they were purchased at the dollar store. They were super cheap looking and just made it look like the previous contractor used the cheapest timer he could find. I am sure you are using a different model, but i have not seen anything that looks as sturdy as the Orbit timers I am referring to. My supplier has tried to move me to Hunters and I simply ask why. If I can find a compelling reason to switch I will be glad to.

Wet_Boots
12-11-2006, 09:26 AM
I'm still surprised that any California town or county would still permit DCVA backflow prevention, given that CA has their own published standards. (although looking at a USC FCCCHR page, I see the phrase 'degree of hazard' which I associate with the older codes that allowed DCVAs)

PurpHaze
12-11-2006, 09:36 AM
Everything is relative. Although USC is the defacto expert (that even the EPA and some BF manufacturers refer to in their documentation) on backflows it doesn't necessisarily mean that everyone uses the info. :)

Wet_Boots
12-11-2006, 09:51 AM
I just figured that CA had centralized the control of codes, around when those standards came to be. No local options exist within the codes I work by, except the local option to 'raise the bar' and not allow some otherwise-approved devices. For instance, a number of towns will not approve the usage of any atmospheric vacuum breaker, alone or as a part of an antisyphon valve. Kind of an extreme reaction to the bad old days when a brass AVB was often masquerading as a PVB, or being used in conjunction with an indoor master valve. (not that they were even located higher than the heads they fed)

Mark Hutchison
12-11-2006, 01:54 PM
We live in the mountains---the Rockie Mountains---and there is a reason they have been named that. We get $1000.00 per zone, as a ball park. Sometimes even more. That includes everything, clock ,wire,pipe, heads cleaned up and out the door. When I check my bid it better come in damn close to that number or I better know the reason why. +or- I'm not in this business for my health, but to make money, and even at that number sometimes we don't under these conditions. There is always someone who can do it cheaper and if they can let them have it.

PurpHaze
12-12-2006, 09:18 AM
I just figured that CA had centralized the control of codes, around when those standards came to be.

This state is way too big and has way too many factions up and down its length to have anything even remotely associated with a statewide code. I'm more inclined to believe that there is a minimum amount of protection and then it's left up to the local jurisdictions from there.

No local options exist within the codes I work by, except the local option to 'raise the bar' and not allow some otherwise-approved devices. For instance, a number of towns will not approve the usage of any atmospheric vacuum breaker, alone or as a part of an antisyphon valve. Kind of an extreme reaction to the bad old days when a brass AVB was often masquerading as a PVB, or being used in conjunction with an indoor master valve. (not that they were even located higher than the heads they fed)

ASVs are tenuous when they are so easily abused as you've pointed out. Perhaps that local option was initiated because so many problems like using an ASV as a PVB under constant pressure with valves downline and the height factor that they just decided to get away from them completely? Maybe they tried to work within the ASV code framework and it was being abused so much that they just decided to eliminate their use?

Wet_Boots
12-12-2006, 01:24 PM
This state is way too big and has way too many factions up and down its length to have anything even remotely associated with a statewide code.I dunno, it just comes down to how the legislation decides to go about things. Around here, everything wound up deferring to the BOCA code, and the regional plumbing code it referrred to. No muss, no fuss, no DCVA's. There were a few interesting years when localities unknowingly tried to enforce their pre-change ordinances calling for DCVA's.

nc-native
12-12-2006, 05:16 PM
I made more money being a fix-it guy than I ever could hope to imagine doing installs. Too many companies and company want-to-bees giving away labor here. My repair rate: $65/hr @ time & material. I love when I have to cut concrete. Thank you very much.

Hank Reardon
12-12-2006, 09:32 PM
I dunno, it just comes down to how the legislation decides to go about things. Around here, everything wound up deferring to the BOCA code, and the regional plumbing code it referrred to. No muss, no fuss, no DCVA's. There were a few interesting years when localities unknowingly tried to enforce their pre-change ordinances calling for DCVA's.

Local Municiple Code can be more stringent than the State Code. Case in point, our state says PVB's as a minimum while our MC requires DCVA's or RP's on all irrigation systems.

Mr. Vern
12-12-2006, 10:49 PM
Wow, I think we have taken the term "I digress" to new heights with this thread.LOL

jerryrwm
12-13-2006, 12:01 AM
Local Municiple Code can be more stringent than the State Code. Case in point, our state says PVB's as a minimum while our MC requires DCVA's or RP's on all irrigation systems.
Actually the PVB is more suited for irrigation than the DCA as it is rated for toxic applications while the DCA is not. Many plumbing inspectors are not backflow certified and have only rudimentary training in their applications and figure since it has two check valves it has to be better than the PVB. And they like to see them buried in the ground to prevent eyesores. But when they do that, many times they do not require any kind of plug on the testcocks and they are a potential cross connection point should the vault be submerged. Some utility districts require that the vault be slightly above ground and that the testcocks be fitted with a riser that extends above grade to prevent flooding. It's just as easy to install a PVB behind a couple of shrubs or behind a screen fence and be done with it. And if the elevations are prohibitive, slap and RPZ in and there you have it.

Hank Reardon
12-13-2006, 01:02 AM
It's not the inspectors who write the codes.

Is a DCVA not rated for toxic due to the sub-grade installations? As for testc*cks, we were taught to always install brass acorn caps on the testing adapters.

Dirty Water
12-13-2006, 02:25 AM
It's not the inspectors who write the codes.

Is a DCVA not rated for toxic due to the sub-grade installations? As for testc*cks, we were taught to always install brass acorn caps on the testing adapters.

DCVA's do not have any way to vent back flow, so they fail toxic rating.

A DCVA with a release valve is pretty much what a RPZ is. You can't mount them subgrade for fear of flooding and backsiphonage though.

Wet_Boots
12-13-2006, 03:41 AM
Wow, I think we have taken the term "I digress" to new heights with this thread.LOLI could always display 'the manifold' again.http://img348.imageshack.us/img348/6049/eightvalvemanifold23fz.jpg

DCVA's are not toxic-rated on account of their not having any air-relief capacity, which means an internal fault or malfunction will not immediately lead to a water dump from the relief valve. An RPZ is inherently capable of dealing with an internal fault, and has this functionality without any actual testing of the check valves by an inspector. This has importance in locations where testing requirements are absent or spotty. (but even the most stringent testing will not turn a DCVA into a toxic-rated device, and no code or manufacturer makes any claim to this) Vacuum breakers also have toxic rating, for having the air relief as a basic part of their design.

laylow1994
12-20-2006, 07:10 PM
when i do installs here in tampa area i usually charge $450- $500 a zone i have seen up to $750 a zone also.....

Duekster
01-02-2007, 06:37 PM
We have illegal low ballers in texas doing 5 to 6 zones for $1400.00.

I don't sell cheap crap but I also don't install a lot of residential systems either. Not worth it to get out of bed.