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travislakerat
01-23-2008, 06:09 PM
Hello Everyone-

I am new to this field. I have recently decided to go into land clearing / site prep. I have some friends that are more into the paving side of things and after long discussions I decided to take a plunge into trying something new.

I have limited experience on equipment with most of my learning curve happening on several pieces of land I have developed myself. So here is where I am at. I have purchased a Cat 420D with a Kent 1100# hammer. I have a Cat skid Steer in route but do not know the age/model # ( My father in law did some trade out for it and I have not picked it up.) I also puchased a 9" chipper/mulcher. I bought an older 1 ton Chevy and have also picked up a 28 foot flatbed gooseneck and a 16 foot bumper pull flat bed.

There is quite a bit of steady work in my area, but since this is a new venture for me and after what a lot of this message board has said, I am concerned about burying myself on the first couple of jobs. Granted, I am no where near as skilled as you guys on the equipment and so it will take me longer, but I need to learn how to bid quickly. Is there any way to help me reduce the learning curve so that I don't want to get out as soon as I get in?:confused: I need to get some form of base line of what I need to be charging for each piece of equipment and maybe some minimums. I have been researching the skid steer market some and found that in my area people are getting $90-150 an hour. I have found out that clearing trees with chainsaws and 4 laborers goes from $900-1200 per day. I have no idea about my backhoe.

As stated above, I feel I have adequate machines to get me going. I also have opened a rental account if I need anything else. I have lined up some help that have experience in running backhoes if I land anything large enough.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your help.

cat2
01-23-2008, 06:31 PM
welcome your going to love this site

Dirt Digger2
01-23-2008, 07:44 PM
tough time to get into business...anyway, that aside..welcome

we are getting $125/hr for our backhoes, $85/hr for dump trucks, $85/hr for skid loader, $40/hr per laborer.

But those prices are with experienced operators who can get a job done in a timely manner. My recommendation for you is to not take any job that you feel is too difficult, Backhoes can be dangerous to operate in the forest and in land clearing applications, especially if you don't know what you are doing. Take smaller jobs, jobs that you can do by yourself in a few days until you get roughly familiar with the boundaries of your machine. Once you get familiar with your machines you then will be able to determine how fast you can do a job, and you will be able to make your bids on that.

for starting, ask the home owner/contractor what other guys have been giving them estimates...if i were you i wouldn't charge per hour...not yet, if a contractor sees you out there driving your backhoe around like a chicken with its head cut off they might think you are milking the clock and might not want you back, home owners half the time wouldn't be able to tell...but start with a few contract jobs and go from there

travislakerat
01-23-2008, 08:09 PM
Thanks. That is what I felt would be a good way to start, but was unsure how to price the machines. And as you said, I want to charge what it would take for a competent operator, not for a newbe. I have a guy that is experienced that will work on a job by job basis as needed. I feel that might come in handy as well. Thanks for the Welcome... both of you, as well.

Dirt Digger2
01-23-2008, 08:15 PM
also...i don't know if you are insured or not but if you are not don't take any jobs where you will be working close to a house or where a tree may fall on something important...and always, ALWAYS call for utility marking, even if the hoe will never dig into the dirt make sure you know where those gas/water/sewer/electric lines are...you may have to pay a "contractor fee" but i believe thats a one time thing and once you pay that whenever you call them they mark the utilities for free. That way if you hit any unmarked lines it is on them...just remember they only mark the utility company lines, if a homeowner has a private line running from the house to a pool or shed then they won't mark it...if you break one of those its for you and the homeowner to fight about

coopers
01-23-2008, 08:30 PM
I'm no expert, but I do bid side jobs occasionally and what I do and what I think is the smartest to do unless you are an absolute expert and know for sure how much time it would take, is to put in by the hour. Obviously for those that bid by the day or by the job, they know a lot and they'll add an 'x' percent to the bid to allow for untimely events such as breakdowns or delays in trucking etc. But I think the best way is to bid by the hour, that way you don't feel the pressure when things go wrong and you haven't planned for it and you lose out in the end. There are a lot other more experienced people here so they may have better advise but I think if you bid by the hour for now, you'll be fine.

I think around here, backhoes go for $90/hr and having a breaker added to the hoe is an additional charge, I think a dozer goes for roughly the same per hour. I think a 120 excavator goes for $120-150/hr but I am not 100% sure on that. Scag48 would know since he's around that more than I am (he's from WA too). But the charger per hour for a machine is different in various locations due to other cost factors that affect that state differently (fuel, maintenance etc.).

Another thing to remember when you do bids, is to cover all costs. Trucking that occurs (dump trucking etc.) and the cost of materials you obviously need to throw in the bid. Know what your local truckers charger for trucking, know your local retail yards and their costs (gravel, sand, t.soil etc.), know everything possible about what you'll need to do your job. That way you can give rough estimates for those that insist on knowing a number (like how much does trucking cost?), but later you can go back and get everything put together, what you'll need (equipment wise), T&M etc. and you'll have a bid ready for the customer.

That's what I do (again, not my full time job and I'm still learning) but I just have all the necessary information on what I could possibly need that way I can throw a bid together in a timely manner and get it back to the customer. And again, if a customer has a question about the cost of something I can give them a rough number since I have it; what I'm thinking of right now for instance is the rental fees. I do not own my own equipment yet so I rent, and people are always curious what it'll cost them so I give them a number and explain it will also include other charges. That usually works and they're willing to wait a for me to get all the numbers in order to give them a projected cost and time table.

Hopefully someone else has more info and they can help you out and me too since I'm still learning.

Blake
WA

coopers
01-23-2008, 08:35 PM
if i were you i wouldn't charge per hour...not yet, if a contractor sees you out there driving your backhoe around like a chicken with its head cut off they might think you are milking the clock and might not want you back, home owners half the time wouldn't be able to tell...but start with a few contract jobs and go from there

Digger, I thought this too but wouldn't it be more of a gamble for inexperienced people to bid a job another way and not have covered everything or projected the outcome and lose out on money?

Like I said, I do by the hour because that's what I'm comfortable with. I am not a newbie at machine operations though so maybe I have that going for me, but I for sure do not feel comfortable enough to eyeball a job and come up with a timetable to when it can be done for sure. I am usually good at telling, but I don't want there to be a day that I thought I knew the amount of time it would take me and the other unforeseen things come up....does that make sense?

Thanks,

Blake
WA

Dirt Digger2
01-23-2008, 08:43 PM
thats the biggest problem is pricing for other people. Such as if you are hauling material out by hiring a dump truck. If he prices jobs where hes the only one working and it takes more time then he thought he can count it as a learning experience, you can't make money on every job when you start, but you can gain a wealth of knowledge. If there are other aspects then they need to be accounted for...trucking is usually the biggest...in jobs like that then per hour may be the way to go...i was just refering to small land clearing jobs where he will be pushing a tree over and pushing it into a pile or chipper.

Scag48
01-23-2008, 08:55 PM
We're getting anywhere from $115-$135 an hour for a 120 size excavator around here, depending on who you are and who you're working for. Backhoes usually run $90-100 an hour or so, skid steers are $75-85, mini excavators are $85 an hour for a 3 ton mini.

You say you're doing land clearing and development work, please enlighten me as to why the backhoe is your tool of choice equipped with a breaker. I prefer an excavator for 80% of the work we do and the other 20% of the work gets done with an excavator if I don't have another machine around. I started out running iron with smaller skid steers, I've done a lot of bulk earthmoving in places you can't get a larger machine into and I'm pretty good at doing finish grade around footings, etc.. But, I also have a couple thousand hours on excavators, I can do just about anything with a 120-150 sized hoe with a hydraulic thumb, 36" bucket, and a grade beam. Excavators can work in a variety of environments, they're better suited for clearing work as they don't have tires that can be punctured, they are more stable on slopes, and their ability to work in soft and unstable ground conditions are much better than a backhoe.

As far as bidding goes, you gotta start somewhere. Putting all the pieces together is part of the job, requiring you to sit down and evaluate every aspect of the job. It may not apply to what you're doing, but some guys don't take into consideration of traffic diversion, for instance, or temporary drainage provisions. These types of things can cost you money if they are in the plans and/or it is common sense that they should be applied. If you fail to add these types of obstacles into your bid, you're going to be in it deep. Good luck, this is a difficult business, especially right now with everyone freaking out about a recession that doesn't really exist.

coopers
01-23-2008, 09:02 PM
thats the biggest problem is pricing for other people. Such as if you are hauling material out by hiring a dump truck. If he prices jobs where hes the only one working and it takes more time then he thought he can count it as a learning experience, you can't make money on every job when you start, but you can gain a wealth of knowledge. If there are other aspects then they need to be accounted for...trucking is usually the biggest...in jobs like that then per hour may be the way to go...i was just refering to small land clearing jobs where he will be pushing a tree over and pushing it into a pile or chipper.



Oh I see, okay.

Blake
WA

Fieldman12
01-23-2008, 09:08 PM
Im still learning myself but did a good bit of research before I started late last fall. One thing you may also want to do is charge a minimum charge like say four hours. It is not worth it to load up a machine and take it to a job site to just work an hour and make only 80 bucks. I would charge them about for four hours of work. Hopefully it takes a good bit less so you could make like $150.00 to haul the machine there and back. You really need to get some type of an idea as to how long the job will take to know how much fuel will cost you, labor needed, greasing machine time if more than one day, if added trips to and from the site, trucking, supplies, wear and tear on truck, machine and trailer, insurance, and so on. Really you dont come out near as well by the hour as you do by charging by the job. That is why I say it is important to know how long it will take you. I would get some experience on some of your own work first and then go out for hire.

coopers
01-23-2008, 09:22 PM
Scag48,

Good words of wisdom. I forgot to mention that I was curious of the choice of machine for clearing.

Blake
WA

Scag48
01-23-2008, 09:25 PM
You got any work for me, like a couple days a week? :drinkup: 10 more days without work, bored out of my mind, maybe I'll just ski every day.:laugh:

coopers
01-23-2008, 09:28 PM
One thing you may also want to do is charge a minimum charge like say four hours. It is not worth it to load up a machine and take it to a job site to just work an hour and make only 80 bucks.

Yup, I forgot to mention how important it is to figure out a minimum charge so you don't end up wasting time and money.

I would get some experience on some of your own work first and then go out for hire.

I agree, and that is why I am dabbling in side jobs. I guess I'll always have "side jobs" since I am not doing this full time, maybe when I retire but who knows. But I think it's important for anyone to gain experience in any way possible before making the huge plunge into self-employment.

Blake
WA

coopers
01-23-2008, 09:30 PM
You got any work for me, like a couple days a week? :drinkup: 10 more days without work, bored out of my mind, maybe I'll just ski every day.:laugh:

haha, skiing's good. I wish I had work. I haven't forgotten about you. I did have this clearing and house demo but apparently the customer doesn't want me anymore. I had stuff all lined up for this weekend. Oh well...another flake.

Blake
WA

Scag48
01-23-2008, 09:52 PM
Oh yeah, tell me about it. I was about 3 hours away from sending a D4 out to a gravel parking lot to re-grade while our restaurant is closed. The lot is my restaurant employee lot badly in need of re-grading, but the decision wasn't up the the restaurant, the property is leased to the restaurant and was out of their discretion. Had everything setup and ready to roll, wham, no go. :dizzy:

YellowDogSVC
01-23-2008, 09:57 PM
Hello Everyone-

I am new to this field. I have recently decided to go into land clearing / site prep. I have some friends that are more into the paving side of things and after long discussions I decided to take a plunge into trying something new.

I have limited experience on equipment with most of my learning curve happening on several pieces of land I have developed myself. So here is where I am at. I have purchased a Cat 420D with a Kent 1100# hammer. I have a Cat skid Steer in route but do not know the age/model # ( My father in law did some trade out for it and I have not picked it up.) I also puchased a 9" chipper/mulcher. I bought an older 1 ton Chevy and have also picked up a 28 foot flatbed gooseneck and a 16 foot bumper pull flat bed.

There is quite a bit of steady work in my area, but since this is a new venture for me and after what a lot of this message board has said, I am concerned about burying myself on the first couple of jobs. Granted, I am no where near as skilled as you guys on the equipment and so it will take me longer, but I need to learn how to bid quickly. Is there any way to help me reduce the learning curve so that I don't want to get out as soon as I get in?:confused: I need to get some form of base line of what I need to be charging for each piece of equipment and maybe some minimums. I have been researching the skid steer market some and found that in my area people are getting $90-150 an hour. I have found out that clearing trees with chainsaws and 4 laborers goes from $900-1200 per day. I have no idea about my backhoe.

As stated above, I feel I have adequate machines to get me going. I also have opened a rental account if I need anything else. I have lined up some help that have experience in running backhoes if I land anything large enough.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your help.

Welcome to the Forums. I'm just south of you and just nw of San Antonio.

Your prices seem in line with what's out there though $150/hr would probably be for a mulching skidsteer on a "good" job.
I don't have any contacts in Austin area. I was guessing that based on your name. Are you near Lake Travis? I have contacts in other parts of the state and would be happy to send you some leads. Shoot me an email sometime. Sounds like you want to work and I have been there in the past.

travislakerat
01-24-2008, 01:55 AM
Digger, I thought this too but wouldn't it be more of a gamble for inexperienced people to bid a job another way and not have covered everything or projected the outcome and lose out on money?

Like I said, I do by the hour because that's what I'm comfortable with. I am not a newbie at machine operations though so maybe I have that going for me, but I for sure do not feel comfortable enough to eyeball a job and come up with a timetable to when it can be done for sure. I am usually good at telling, but I don't want there to be a day that I thought I knew the amount of time it would take me and the other unforeseen things come up....does that make sense?

Thanks,

Blake
WA

Thanks Blake-

Another way that satifies both concepts might be utilize the 2 guys that I can as much as possible in the beggining since they have experience. That way I don't lose on money and the client doens't pay for my inexperience. Just a thought.

travislakerat
01-24-2008, 02:07 AM
We're getting anywhere from $115-$135 an hour for a 120 size excavator around here, depending on who you are and who you're working for. Backhoes usually run $90-100 an hour or so, skid steers are $75-85, mini excavators are $85 an hour for a 3 ton mini.

You say you're doing land clearing and development work, please enlighten me as to why the backhoe is your tool of choice equipped with a breaker. I prefer an excavator for 80% of the work we do and the other 20% of the work gets done with an excavator if I don't have another machine around. I started out running iron with smaller skid steers, I've done a lot of bulk earthmoving in places you can't get a larger machine into and I'm pretty good at doing finish grade around footings, etc.. But, I also have a couple thousand hours on excavators, I can do just about anything with a 120-150 sized hoe with a hydraulic thumb, 36" bucket, and a grade beam. Excavators can work in a variety of environments, they're better suited for clearing work as they don't have tires that can be punctured, they are more stable on slopes, and their ability to work in soft and unstable ground conditions are much better than a backhoe.

As far as bidding goes, you gotta start somewhere. Putting all the pieces together is part of the job, requiring you to sit down and evaluate every aspect of the job. It may not apply to what you're doing, but some guys don't take into consideration of traffic diversion, for instance, or temporary drainage provisions. These types of things can cost you money if they are in the plans and/or it is common sense that they should be applied. If you fail to add these types of obstacles into your bid, you're going to be in it deep. Good luck, this is a difficult business, especially right now with everyone freaking out about a recession that doesn't really exist.


Well, to be honest with you on this, I relied on opinions of my best friend who is in the asphalt industry and an equipment dealer who also was a high school buddy. The work I will be doing is mostly local and having the rubber tire backhoe gives me the ability to dig, load and travel with having to haul the machine too much. I also am in an area that is pretty hilly and most home sites require cutting or digging. Digging here means getting out the hammer. I see your point about the excavator, but for my needs everyone I consulted felt the backhoe was the way to go. I guess time will tell.

Thanks for the info.

travislakerat
01-24-2008, 02:16 AM
Welcome to the Forums. I'm just south of you and just nw of San Antonio.

Your prices seem in line with what's out there though $150/hr would probably be for a mulching skidsteer on a "good" job.
I don't have any contacts in Austin area. I was guessing that based on your name. Are you near Lake Travis? I have contacts in other parts of the state and would be happy to send you some leads. Shoot me an email sometime. Sounds like you want to work and I have been there in the past.

Yellow Dog-
You are correct. I am in the Austin area. Actually NW Austin on the north side of the lake. I tried to look up your contact info, but none was listed. I would like to send you an email.

John

Scag48
01-24-2008, 03:36 AM
I suppose if most said go with a backhoe, you're probably safe. The slopes will be a challenge, I understand slope means different things to different people, but if you can get 90% of your work done with the machine you own, rent an excavator when you need it.

YellowDogSVC
01-24-2008, 10:12 AM
Yellow Dog-
You are correct. I am in the Austin area. Actually NW Austin on the north side of the lake. I tried to look up your contact info, but none was listed. I would like to send you an email.

John

check out www.brushchipping.com

travislakerat
01-31-2008, 01:40 PM
check out www.brushchipping.com

Yellowdog-

Liked your site. Do you only clear land with your bobcat and brush cutter or do you also cut and chip? Looking at your setup, it would be hard to compete with the brush cutter/mower with traditional cut the tree down and chip it. Is that the case or not. Out of curiosity, what does a brush cutter/mower cost?

Thanks

YellowDogSVC
01-31-2008, 06:24 PM
Yellowdog-

Liked your site. Do you only clear land with your bobcat and brush cutter or do you also cut and chip? Looking at your setup, it would be hard to compete with the brush cutter/mower with traditional cut the tree down and chip it. Is that the case or not. Out of curiosity, what does a brush cutter/mower cost?

Thanks

I shear and chip. Was doing that today. Will set up large piles of trees up to 20" then come back and chip them with Vermeer BC2000 with loader. I usually mow out the underbrush with either the CAT mower or a brushcat.

It is cheaper to just use a brushcutter but not everyone wants that look. Also, unless you have a 200hp dedicated machine for running a brush cutter, you just can't clear efficiently on trees larger than 12". Don't get me wrong. A LOT of guys try it. :nono: I get hired often to fix it after they get run off the job, quit, or leave the landowner highly upset. :clapping:

travislakerat
01-31-2008, 06:37 PM
I see. Yeah the Vermeer you have in your video is sweet as well. Thanks for the info. As I said before clearing land like you do is what I am interested in doing, but I want to make sure I have the right equipment so I don't become " one of those guys. "

YellowDogSVC
01-31-2008, 06:58 PM
I see. Yeah the Vermeer you have in your video is sweet as well. Thanks for the info. As I said before clearing land like you do is what I am interested in doing, but I want to make sure I have the right equipment so I don't become " one of those guys. "

Might be smart to partner up with people that have the right equipment and work side by side and compliment each other. I do a lot of work for a tree climbing company that does large oak takedowns. They don't have any equipment and I don't have any climbers. Combined, we can handle just about anything. Works out well and a little communication now and again keeps our schedules on track.