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View Full Version : Can I Bill more than what was proposed


bdm408
10-17-2008, 06:22 AM
I live in California and wrote up a contract for a client of mine that I have known for 8 years now. The contract involved replacement of 6K of sod (ripping out, preparing, & laying), Replacement of all sprinklers with Hunter PGP (around 20), Installation of Shrubs (38 5gl, 58 1gl, 5 flats, 1 15gl tree) with 8 yds of bark, Installation of 360 Ft of Bender Board around lawn (cost me 1.85/ft), 46 feet of French Drainage with 2 grates (corr.pipe with wrap and 3/4" rock), Replacement of 4 1.5" Rainbird Valves w/Box & lid, & installation of 11 tons of 2"x4" lin creek cobblestone (cost me 120/ton). The plants in total cost me $1,703.46.
I know this is alot of info, so thanx in advance.
My problem is that I wrote up the contract in a hurry because he wanted the contract quick, so I just guesstimate the costs (something i will never do again) and I quoted him for around 14k. But after calculating my Material it comes to 8K, $9,600 after adding my 20% markup. The labor comes to around 10K making the complete landscape around 20K.

2 questions:
1. is the total that i came up with around the norm, or am I under/over?
2. Although I gave him the contract, neither him nor I ever signed it. so with a well listed invoice, can I go ahead n bill him for 20K, or should I just take the loss (knowing the loss is around 6K).

Thanx alot!

lawnman_scott
10-17-2008, 08:56 AM
You can bill him for $40,000 if you want. I would say the bigger question is what will he pay. There is only one person who knows, I would ask him.

fool32696
10-17-2008, 12:02 PM
Explain the situation and try to get another 1 or 2K. I figure projects carefully because getting yourself in this position makes you look pretty stupid. If I was in his position I wouldn't pay a dime over $14k. You're the one in a tight spot.

bdm408
10-17-2008, 03:02 PM
Yes, I definitely am in a tight spot & do feel very naive. I have never done contracts in a hasty manner, I just don't know what happened to me this time.

Superior L & L
10-17-2008, 04:43 PM
that feels like a way to high of a number for labor. That would be over two weeks for a three man crew at $40.00 per hour.

ericmcj31
10-17-2008, 04:52 PM
I would say give him/her a call-and tell them your mistake. If they are willing to re-negotiate, then that's good, but know that you could possibly lose the job over your mistake. Ethically speaking, you should prob. do it for the price you quoted. I wouldn't cut any corners, as that will come back and prob. end up costing you more than originally. But I would prob. call them and just be honest and explain yourself-if they're reasonable people, they should understand--if not you're gonna either have to 'bite the bullet' or 'walk.'

LawnScapers of Dayton
10-17-2008, 05:25 PM
sorry to say it but this sounds like a learning situation for you......

VisionsLandscapes
10-17-2008, 05:47 PM
if he is a good customer of yours and stuck with your for years im sure you could talk with him in person and just explain the situation to him and im sure that you can get another 3k out of him. try to split the difference betwee 14k and 20k and im sure you could work something out.

bdm408
10-17-2008, 08:11 PM
10K may be a bit high but out here in northern california, living costs are ridiculously high. I actually charge $60/Man Hr.

I think you are right VisionsLanscapes, I also thought about splitting the difference and end up around 17K. He definetly is a client that I have known for a while now and we've never had any disagreements (I hope this won't be the first, God forbid). I guess I'll just lay it all out, in simple english, and hope for the best. The work was for a 30+ unit apt. building he just purchased and seems happy for the reason that he just raised the rent and everone has stayed. So i hope with that in mind and the fact that he is extremely content with the outcome of the Landscaping he will have some mercy for me.

Well thanx to everyone that commented, and I will come back in a week or so to update about the outcome. This definitley is a learning block for me!

CALandscapes
10-17-2008, 08:57 PM
I would explain to him your situation, without getting too in-depth, and ask for his generosity.

BUT - Don't expect him to pay; you'll be setting yourself up to be disappointed.

Turboguy
10-18-2008, 08:10 AM
To me it is a matter of how you view your own integrity. I think it would be pretty low to just send him a bill for 20 grand. If you want to renegotiate that is your choice.

My own standards of integrity would have me just doing the job at the price I quoted and never saying a word. It actually sounds like you won't really lose any money anyway, you just may not make any but you were the one who made the mistake. He did nothing wrong. You should have been more careful and thought it out better before you did the quote. I have had jobs where I barely covered my material but just put it down to an investment in my education and made sure I learned from my mistake.

When I read something like this it reminds me of a job a few years ago. All I really do in the landscaping part of my business is hydroseed by the way and I did a quote on a job and my customer mentioned there would be an area across the drive that needed done. I guessed what he would need and when I pulled in with my hydroseeder the area I thought he wanted turned out to be 1/4 of what he really wanted and I was going to be lucky to break even. I did the whole job muttering under my breath what a #%%^^&^&& this guy was but did it and said nothing. When it came time to settle up he said he thought the area across the road may have been bigger than I expected and he was adding $ 1500.00 to my quote for it. After all that muttering he turned out to be a first class guy. Still, if I say I will do something I just do it.

Another story, In another lifetime I was distributing some products. A good customer from 100 miles away called and said he needed a set of $ 45.00 tire chains and needed them by Monday. My salesman who took the call said "I will have them to you by Monday if I have to drive to get them and bring them to you myself. Well when my salesman called our chain supplier he found the only way the customer could have them on Monday was if he really did go and get them and drive them up himself. My salesman was saying what should he do. He felt he couldn't drive 200 miles in a snow storm for something he would make about $ 2.00 on. I told him he should learn not to promise something he was not willing to do. He should have just said he would do all he could to get the chains to him in time. Personally that is how I feel about what you said. You should not have promised something you were not willing to do. Do the job, bill him what you promised and learn from the experience. Be a man and be a man of your word.

JimmyStew
10-18-2008, 04:37 PM
Unless you gave him an ESTIMATE to do the work, I think your stuck. And even if it was an estimate, a 25% jump is quite a bit. Live and learn.

If I were in your situation I would do it for the 14k and not let on that I underbid the project UNLESS, you get the sense that he knows you underbid it. If thats the case, or if you think there will be a lot more work from him and you don't want him thinking you work for one price, then you come back on the next project real high, throw in a few comments about how you spent a little extra time on some aspect of the project, or used some larger shrubs than you had anticipated because "you thought it would look better that way". Make him think you gave him extra work for the same money you quoted.

kootoomootoo
10-18-2008, 06:36 PM
Try telling the soon to be ex client after marking up $8000 in materials 20% and charging $60/man hour you are making a loss at $14k.

His response ....should have done it faster.

SimonCX
10-18-2008, 07:13 PM
IMO I would bill him what I quoted and take the loss, it's not his problem you estiamted wrong. I understand if it was a couple hundred because some materials went up or something extra came up and you explain it to him. If I were in his shoes I wouldn't pay you the extra and if you started and didn't want to finish you would probably be in court and it would cost you alot more. Take it as a leason and learn from your mistake, the difference is sometimes mistakes hurt more then others.

qualitylandscaping
10-19-2008, 04:34 PM
Truly a first class business owner here!

I agree 100%. Well said turboguy

To me it is a matter of how you view your own integrity. I think it would be pretty low to just send him a bill for 20 grand. If you want to renegotiate that is your choice.

My own standards of integrity would have me just doing the job at the price I quoted and never saying a word. It actually sounds like you won't really lose any money anyway, you just may not make any but you were the one who made the mistake. He did nothing wrong. You should have been more careful and thought it out better before you did the quote. I have had jobs where I barely covered my material but just put it down to an investment in my education and made sure I learned from my mistake.

When I read something like this it reminds me of a job a few years ago. All I really do in the landscaping part of my business is hydroseed by the way and I did a quote on a job and my customer mentioned there would be an area across the drive that needed done. I guessed what he would need and when I pulled in with my hydroseeder the area I thought he wanted turned out to be 1/4 of what he really wanted and I was going to be lucky to break even. I did the whole job muttering under my breath what a #%%^^&^&& this guy was but did it and said nothing. When it came time to settle up he said he thought the area across the road may have been bigger than I expected and he was adding $ 1500.00 to my quote for it. After all that muttering he turned out to be a first class guy. Still, if I say I will do something I just do it.

Another story, In another lifetime I was distributing some products. A good customer from 100 miles away called and said he needed a set of $ 45.00 tire chains and needed them by Monday. My salesman who took the call said "I will have them to you by Monday if I have to drive to get them and bring them to you myself. Well when my salesman called our chain supplier he found the only way the customer could have them on Monday was if he really did go and get them and drive them up himself. My salesman was saying what should he do. He felt he couldn't drive 200 miles in a snow storm for something he would make about $ 2.00 on. I told him he should learn not to promise something he was not willing to do. He should have just said he would do all he could to get the chains to him in time. Personally that is how I feel about what you said. You should not have promised something you were not willing to do. Do the job, bill him what you promised and learn from the experience. Be a man and be a man of your word.

topsites
10-19-2008, 05:01 PM
Upping a bid like that is against the law, so chalk it up to experience, that should slow down the next bid.

bdm408
10-21-2008, 04:32 PM
Thanx alot for your honest opinions and for giving me more wisdom but there is something I forgot to mention. The main reason the total came out to be much higher than my original quote is because there ended up being more material than initially calculated. For example there were way more shrubs, bark, and even sod needed than expected. On some cases it was my error of measurement but in regards to shrubs it was actually the property owner who ended up tweaking the design causing more shrubs to be needed. I know I should have added a change in work form, but it just skipped my mind at the time (unfortunately another lesson to be learned).
Thanx once again to all.

mgray10
11-07-2008, 09:25 PM
Always include numbers in your contract! For instance, don't write "build full length retaining wall in back yard." Instead, write "build segmented retaining wall of 120 foot length and 21 courses at 7 foot total height, to include x tons of drainage aggregate, x yards of backfill, x feet of drain tile," et cetera.

If you don't know how much material you will need or roughly how large an area is, take a measurement. I am continually baffled at how many contractors do not own a measuring wheel! "I didn't realize how big it was" = "I was too lazy to take a damn measurement"

topsites
11-08-2008, 12:07 AM
Thanx alot for your honest opinions and for giving me more wisdom but there is something I forgot to mention. The main reason the total came out to be much higher than my original quote is because there ended up being more material than initially calculated. For example there were way more shrubs, bark, and even sod needed than expected. On some cases it was my error of measurement but in regards to shrubs it was actually the property owner who ended up tweaking the design causing more shrubs to be needed. I know I should have added a change in work form, but it just skipped my mind at the time (unfortunately another lesson to be learned).
Thanx once again to all.

Yeah definitely watch out for those last minute change of plans...

But I think you can add that on to the bill, even if you didn't get a change order form I don't see anything wrong
with it if the customer changed things around you simply charge appropriately... Not so much extra but if 10 plants was
$100 before and the customer made 12 out of it then make it $120, that shouldn't be a problem.

You'll want to itemize the bill, and compensate for what the customer tweaked, then if there are any questions you can refer back to it.

As for the rest, well at least that helps a little.

bdm408
11-18-2008, 04:45 AM
Just wanted to update everyone on the ending of my learning experience.
So I went ahead and billed him around 19K. I spent a whole day calculating n recalculating many more times to come up with the total. Good thing was that just as TOPSITES mentioned, I did mention in the contract the quantities that I would be using so I took that method to come up with the total. My client received it and immediately the next day, the check was in my mailbox. He even sent me a thank you card and was extremely content with the result. I guess God had mercy on me. Well thank you all for your extremely great help. Have a great one y'all.

Kennedy Landscaping
11-19-2008, 12:54 PM
I would just talk with the customer and explain to them that due to the "rush" for lack of a better term that you have overlooked a few items in the contract and would like to discuss them with him. If he does not want to comply you might just have to take the hit and do the job anyways. Just my 02

I did a cleanup a while back, I went out to see what needed done, customer and I walked the property. So, I go back to my "office" and write up the estimate and deliver it. Then a few days later when I show up to do the work she wants ALOT more done. First thing I told her was, this will affect the price of the job. She said I am well aware of that and completely alright with it. It went from a $350 cleanup to a $750 cleanup