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View Full Version : Tips for a large install bid?


JimmyStew
03-30-2008, 12:02 AM
I have the opportunity to bid a large condo development install. The project is larger than any that I've done before so I was looking for a little insight from the more experienced!

Whenever I have bid install before, I would take all my plants and mark them up to retail, add a delivery charge and then essentially make out a bill for the job using estimates. I would use my "retail" numbers for mulch, compost, etc and then charge my labor rate for the estimated time it would take and then mark the whole bill up a percentage to account for overages in the project. For the size jobs I usually do this serves me well. I have been very accurate to what the jobs actually cost in the end. I'm not sure if this will serve me well on such a large project. Here are the specific issues that I am concerned about...

The bid has two parts, first, installing all of the plantings for the common areas and aftercare and secondly, a separate bid for the individual "foundation plantings" rather than one price to do all of them. The units will be built as they are sold, so the landscaping will be done over several seasons.

The project manager wants to see a price for plant materials & for labor. I plan to give a price for the plants and then roll all of my other costs - mulch, compost, equipment, labor, etc. - into a second line item. My guess is, they have plans to try to get the plants on their own or attempt to negotiate better pricing. How should I determine my plant pricing? Should I stick with marking up to retail? or utilize another method? My concern is that if they supply the plants, there is a huge chunk of money that I lose out on. I realize that I'm still making money on my labor and other materials but I'm not sure how I feel about losing the profit on the plants.

My second concern is on aftercare. The residential plantings that I've done in the past, caring for the plantings after I leave is up to the customer. In this case I would be responsible for keeping the plants watered for a certain period of time. I would be expected to give a 1 year warranty on the plant material (obviously if I don't supply the plants, there is no warranty). How do you generally account for this aftercare? We have fairly timid summers here, so I would not likely need to worry about irrigation during the spring, fall, or much of the summer unless we get a dry spell. There is a pond in the development so I would have ready access to water for irrigation and I am planning to include using TreeGator bags for all of the large trees. There are, however, a number of planting beds spaced throughout the development that would not be easily reached by city water. I would either have to lug hoses some fairly long distances or pump water to a tank and irrigate using a pump.

I would love to hear your insights on ways to approach bidding a project such as this.

Mark Bogart
03-30-2008, 02:42 AM
For a project like this has drip irrigation been considered to water the plants? The projects I do require a drip system for all trees and shrubs. No drip-No Plants. I know with the climate I deal with water is a must to keep plants alive. I'm not sure how much moisture you get where you live but my concern, especially if your going to have a guarantee on these plants, is will they receive adequate moisture to survive? Just a thought!

JimmyStew
03-30-2008, 08:41 AM
Irrigation is not a big thing in this area. We generally have a short dry spell during the summer months that will only last a few weeks at most. Some years its long enough for the lawns to brown out some but rarely bad enough to cause much mortality to established plants (exotic plants aside). The design for this development contains a good mix of hardy plants for this area as well as, a lot of natives and similar species that once established will survive our climate beautifully. It is really only the establishment period that watering is a concern. I have included an option in my bid to install soaker hoses and a simple electronic timer for each of the condo unit installs as a small upsell, but it won't be designed to be a long term irrigation system.

As for the guarantee, that is where the aftercare comes in to play. Essentially what they are looking for in aftercare is watering the plants until either the warantee runs out or the hire out the landscape maintenance.

JimmyStew
04-02-2008, 10:18 PM
Bump...anyone else like to share some insight on estimating technique?

scagmower
04-02-2008, 10:33 PM
okey well my first step would be to find what its going to cost me to do it. go to your local nursery find what its going to cost for everything. usually after that mark your total price up by 30%. thats what i do and its reasonable enough. for the labor part i charge 25 dollars an hr and i usally have two employees working for me. i give them 10 $ hr. so im really making 55 dollars an hr....anyways for the labor part just break it down in to sections. if your use to doing small jobs just break it down like your doing a small job.

for maintaining the beds just charge him by the hr and tell him that....because the whole watering deal might not be done at all one month or you might end up being there every day. so its kinda hard to have a set price....

AGLA
04-03-2008, 08:10 AM
Make sure to define the conditions you expect the property to be in for your pricing to be valid - such as rough grade to within 3" of finished grade and free of debris ...

One thing you can not do is to assume that all you have to do is put a layer of topsoil down and then seed or sod, or that you will just have to layout the plants, pop in some holes and start planting. What are you going to do if you get there and it has a6" deep puddle where the lawn is to go and chunks of concrete sticking up out of the ground where you are supposed to plant? Cover it in your contract by listing exactly what you are going to do, that everything not described in the contract is an extra, and put in rates for the extra work.

I'd also put in a price reference for plants, if they should change. I have referenced a particular nursery's retail price list as a price guide for extras with a note that this is for pricing regardless of where I buy the material or what I pay for it. That way you have documentation that backs up any extra billing should you ever have to go to court over it.

Make no mistake, the developer will leave as much things for you to do as your contract will let him.

CutRight
04-03-2008, 11:34 PM
in the northeast a competitive price for landscape installs is to take the price of the plant and either multiply it by anywhere between 2.5 to 3. so a $100 tree cost to you is $250-$300 installed with a one year warrantee. Then you just add in your mulch costs, anywhere from 55-80 a yard installed.
You need to have a unit price for all of your items installed because on projects like this there will be add-ons and there will be items removed as time goes on.

I usually break it down price installed per plant species, mulch per yard, then also have rates for all of your things like labor(which should at least be $40/hour , $25 is way too low) also any equipment, skid steer $65/hr, mini-ex $90-120/ depending on how efficient you are with it.

Have forms ready and make sure that any change orders get signed by the supervisor of the project at the end of every day or else they won't pay you for those changes because theres no documentation.

If you need any help give us a call.

CutRight
04-03-2008, 11:34 PM
in the northeast a competitive price for landscape installs is to take the price of the plant and either multiply it by anywhere between 2.5 to 3. so a $100 tree cost to you is $250-$300 installed with a one year warrantee. Then you just add in your mulch costs, anywhere from 55-80 a yard installed.
You need to have a unit price for all of your items installed because on projects like this there will be add-ons and there will be items removed as time goes on.

I usually break it down price installed per plant species, mulch per yard, then also have rates for all of your things like labor(which should at least be $40/hour , $25 is way too low) also any equipment, skid steer $65/hr, mini-ex $90-120/ depending on how efficient you are with it.

Have forms ready and make sure that any change orders get signed by the supervisor of the project at the end of every day or else they won't pay you for those changes because theres no documentation.

If you need any help give us a call.

AGLA
04-04-2008, 08:02 AM
One thing that needs to be clarified on Cutright's excellent post is that the mark up on plants is based on good wholesale prices (at least in my area that is the case) rather than on retail or slightly discounted retail from a local garden center.

This always seems to get left out just because we assume it is understood and then the new guys are trying to triple retail, not looking to establish relationships with wholesalers to build better discounts, and not getting any work.

You still have to do everything to manage costs and overhead.