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View Full Version : 5.99 a square foot?????


Right Touch
11-25-2008, 03:19 PM
hey guys just got underbid by a company who is charging $5.99 a square foot for paver installations. The job was over $20,000 (with my estimate of $10/sqft) for a driveway, walkway, and small patio, AND the customer referred us to a friend who wanted to get the same thing. So I lost a total of over $40,000 in work because of this guy. In our area, $10/sqft is usually a base price, and of course the sky is the limit. I am furious to see a company do the work for this cheap. I am almost tempted to post his website here so we can spread the bad word. The worst part is his website shows pictures of decent work. The site itself isnt great and I was hoping his photo gallery would prove why he is able to charge so cheap. It looks like he does everything by the book though... Anyone else furious that this guy is ruining the standard, or is it just a sign of the bad economy and we should all lower our prices? He is still working and I am sitting in my office on the computer. Who is really losing out? Seems to be me...

EagleLandscape
11-25-2008, 04:11 PM
10 sq ft is still cheap.

we charge between 12-15 typically. driveway is alot of base material, and excavation.

zedosix
11-25-2008, 05:12 PM
hey guys just got underbid by a company who is charging $5.99 a square foot for paver installations. The job was over $20,000 (with my estimate of $10/sqft) for a driveway, walkway, and small patio, AND the customer referred us to a friend who wanted to get the same thing. So I lost a total of over $40,000 in work because of this guy. In our area, $10/sqft is usually a base price, and of course the sky is the limit. I am furious to see a company do the work for this cheap. I am almost tempted to post his website here so we can spread the bad word. The worst part is his website shows pictures of decent work. The site itself isnt great and I was hoping his photo gallery would prove why he is able to charge so cheap. It looks like he does everything by the book though... Anyone else furious that this guy is ruining the standard, or is it just a sign of the bad economy and we should all lower our prices? He is still working and I am sitting in my office on the computer. Who is really losing out? Seems to be me...

How can you be sure he is only charging 5.99 sq.ft? Maybe the customer is comfortable with the man, and not you! Never know what the reason is, don't sweat it just move on. But where I come from the average selling price of brick alone is $4sq.ft. He's charging somewhere, no one works for nothing.

DVS Hardscaper
11-25-2008, 06:19 PM
Our pricing derives from estimated production hours and estimated materials. We do not unit price. However, most of our jobs average between $15 -$25 / sf.

As far as paver driveway - we can install a 4,000 SF driveway for about the same labor cost as we would charge to install a 2500 SF patio. The reason why is because with driveways you have more room to maneuver equipment, and aggregate is compacted with a 12 ton roller....instead of a dinky plate compactor.

This week we're doing a 5700 SF paver driveway. Today, 3 of my guys, working at a slow, steady pace, screeded bedding sand and installed 848 SF of pavers. Whereas when we do patios, my guys usually average 500-600 sf in the same amount of time. Driveways are wide open and you can rock and roll. And you can drop pallets of pavers almost right where you need them, unlike some patios where you're only able to place the cubes so close.

Right Touch
11-25-2008, 06:41 PM
I agree with DVS in that every job needs to be priced according to site conditions and so forth, though most consumers seem to be able to relate to a "Square foot" price, so in order to reduce confusion, we are kinda forced to price that way. I told the customer that that price barely covers the cost of the material, and I have never seen a professional charge that low, and I would need to see the other guys estimate to make sure we were comparing apples to apples. Well that was last month and I drove past the house today, and nothing has been done yet. Maybe the customer actually listened to what I said and will call me soon to do the job.

Summit L & D
11-25-2008, 07:05 PM
I agree with DVS in that every job needs to be priced according to site conditions and so forth, though most consumers seem to be able to relate to a "Square foot" price, so in order to reduce confusion, we are kinda forced to price that way. I told the customer that that price barely covers the cost of the material, and I have never seen a professional charge that low, and I would need to see the other guys estimate to make sure we were comparing apples to apples. Well that was last month and I drove past the house today, and nothing has been done yet. Maybe the customer actually listened to what I said and will call me soon to do the job.

I wouldn't wait for them to call you. Pickup the phone and show a little concern for their unfinished landscape, if nothing else it will build good will with the client. In times past this has actually generated more work for me.

DVS Hardscaper
11-25-2008, 07:17 PM
could be that they don't have the money.

yeah, maybe they did get a dirt cheap price.

And maybe.....they realized to do it right, it'll cost more than they're prepared to spend.

Therefore, the job won't be happenin.

soopa
11-26-2008, 03:26 PM
The only way I could charge $6 a sq ft is if I was just dropping some cheap Hollandstone on a pre-prepared base.

I'm usually in the $15-25 range myself.

kootoomootoo
11-26-2008, 04:24 PM
permit me to be dumb ....is customer supplying material and he installs for 5.99.

tonyGub
11-26-2008, 09:48 PM
Around here there is company doing the exact same thing 6-7 sq/ft. they are crushing everyone. This price includes the material. They can do it because they manufacture their own materials.

zedosix
11-26-2008, 09:50 PM
Around here there is company doing the exact same thing 6-7 sq/ft. they are crushing everyone. This price includes the material. They can do it because they manufacture their own materials.

Wow! Guess which manufacturer I wouldn't do business with.

DVS Hardscaper
11-26-2008, 10:15 PM
There is a guy in myy area that works dirt cheap.

Many contractors hate him.

But........what many don't realize is that he comes from a family with alotta money. His hardscape business is more or less a hobby.

Sunscaper
11-27-2008, 11:33 AM
Business is business. If he offer a comparable product for 1/2 your price you are going to be out of business very soon. The only thing you can do is become alot more effecient while dropping your price to keep up. I would start with the suppliers. Are you buying from a wholesaler or a manufacturer? That could be your first disadvantage.

Sunscaper
11-27-2008, 11:40 AM
Also look at your installation costs as well. Maybe pay your guys per job not hourly. Provide them with better tools like pavers carts, skid loader, larger compactor, etc. Maybe you can even find an asphalt company who is slow to do your base for you and even have it tested. Another thing that can help you is to get a bigger saw with a 16" blade with at least 70cc motor on it. Sawing a mainbody for a soldier goes alot faster. Little thing like this can possibly double if not triple your production on driveway jobs at least. Pools, patios, etc. like DVS said are another story. We love driveways because they are a money run. I hope my suggestions help you out. Best of luck bro its tough out there.

YardPro
11-29-2008, 08:31 AM
lol,
sorry sunscaper, but after listening to your installation methods i find your above advise highly suspect...

sould me more like..

just tamp the sand, have two Argentinians eyeball the screed, and slap down the pavers.... that's how you compete...

after all were you not the one installing for about the same price that the guy is complaining about.

zedosix
11-29-2008, 08:41 AM
I gotta agree with ya Pro. Besides, how can you provide your men with better tools if you charge ridiculously low prices as quoted. Tells me the work is just as cheap as his price. Charge your price and ignore the hacks.

Paver Gangster
11-29-2008, 12:25 PM
lol,
sorry sunscaper, but after listening to your installation methods i find your above advise highly suspect...

sould me more like..

just tamp the sand, have two Argentinians eyeball the screed, and slap down the pavers.... that's how you compete...

after all were you not the one installing for about the same price that the guy is complaining about.

To be fair, Sunscaper is from Florida, totally different market than the rest of us.

Besides, he uses Brazilians, not Argentines. :D

Sunscaper
11-29-2008, 01:47 PM
Sorry that i could not help you. Ignorance will be your demise.

Elegant Outdoor Lighting
12-09-2008, 02:11 PM
There is no way this guy could charge this and be making money and doing a quality job, unless he is making the pavers himself...even then, does he have $0 production cost? These prices just don't make sense. I ran a landscape construction business for years and even with volume pricing and super efficient methods, the very cheapest we could go was $12.50/sf. That was with non-tumbled Belgard pavers. It is a sign of the times when people will lose money on jobs. Trust me, they wont make it thru the recession. Think of it as the market weeding out the hacks. The strong will survive!

TSGVA
12-09-2008, 04:26 PM
I wouldn't wait for them to call you. Pickup the phone and show a little concern for their unfinished landscape, if nothing else it will build good will with the client. In times past this has actually generated more work for me.

Hey Right Touch---any word on that driveway? Did your low baller get the job? Hopefully you're still in the game. Anyway, I just wanted to say that you should stay in touch with your client by checking in with them every few weeks. If they realize that it's going to cost $X to do it the right way and they just don't have the money right now (which could VERY well be the case)....stick with them. That's not a bad problem to have, as long as they realize your value.

I got a call from a client in one of our high end neighborhoods in my area a year and a half ago for a paver driveway....long story short, I stuck with them and got them excited about the project and now we're about to start the 6,000 sf project in January. I spent maybe an hour each month checking in with them and doing some medallion designs, etc.....no big deal...got their juices flowing.

So, as frustrating as it is, don't let them know you may be upset about the hack and rediculous pricing. Be indifferent, yet excited. Stick to your guns. By the way....$10/sf seemed pretty low to me....we're at about $16.50 for this job (including medallion inlay, border detail, etc.) Straight forward, $10 might be just right.

It's tough, especially now and having to deal with those desperate guys. But, like someone else said, this economy with purge those guys and we should have a fresh start when everything bounces back. Hang in there!

btammo
12-10-2008, 08:43 AM
Also look at your installation costs as well. Maybe pay your guys per job not hourly. Provide them with better tools like pavers carts, skid loader, larger compactor, etc. Maybe you can even find an asphalt company who is slow to do your base for you and even have it tested. Another thing that can help you is to get a bigger saw with a 16" blade with at least 70cc motor on it. Sawing a mainbody for a soldier goes alot faster. Little thing like this can possibly double if not triple your production on driveway jobs at least. Pools, patios, etc. like DVS said are another story. We love driveways because they are a money run. I hope my suggestions help you out. Best of luck bro its tough out there.

You make all of these purchases, your overhead goes up. You need to recover that somewhere and it isnt going to triple your production. Do you really think that subbing out the base work would be cheaper in the long run? Its always good to think outside the box, but the box still has to be square.....

Henry
12-10-2008, 12:25 PM
I've lost at least 3 jobs this year to companies that are installing for $6 psf. The last was a 2700 sf driveway that I quoted $32,700 with Techo Bloc pavers. They got a price of $15,000 from a company 40 miles away.

TJLANDS
12-10-2008, 12:44 PM
I've lost at least 3 jobs this year to companies that are installing for $6 psf. The last was a 2700 sf driveway that I quoted $32,700 with Techo Bloc pavers. They got a price of $15,000 from a company 40 miles away.

There are two companies in central and southern NJ that install for 6.00 per sq ft. Yes that includes materials. They advertise all the time at that price for "select" pavers. One of them did an install at one of my res. customers
and finished at 6.75 per sq. (1200 sq ft Driveway and walkway) They did ask me to bid after they had received bids. Couldn't touch it.

Yard.Barber
12-10-2008, 01:34 PM
Even if I did this for myself at home could not do for $5.99 a square foot.. All the beer alone I would be drinking would kill that

Sunscaper
12-10-2008, 07:00 PM
You make all of these purchases, your overhead goes up. You need to recover that somewhere and it isnt going to triple your production. Do you really think that subbing out the base work would be cheaper in the long run? Its always good to think outside the box, but the box still has to be square.....

I completely agree and the answer is volume. If you only do a few jobs a year than it is not worth it. However if you plan to compete with companies who have 90% of their business in paver installations and they have these tools how can you even hope to enter the market place without the investment? I cannot say how subbing out the base could work in short or long term thinking. I would guess it once again goes back to how many jobs you plan of doing. I remember in 2003-2005 in s.w. PA when I started doing pavers the going rate there was $6.00 per s.f. My uncle still does pavers there and the rate is still $6.00. I never made much money on the pavers up there. I always did better on the walls.

zedosix
12-10-2008, 07:42 PM
I completely agree and the answer is volume. If you only do a few jobs a year than it is not worth it. However if you plan to compete with companies who have 90% of their business in paver installations and they have these tools how can you even hope to enter the market place without the investment? I cannot say how subbing out the base could work in short or long term thinking. I would guess it once again goes back to how many jobs you plan of doing. I remember in 2003-2005 in s.w. PA when I started doing pavers the going rate there was $6.00 per s.f. My uncle still does pavers there and the rate is still $6.00. I never made much money on the pavers up there. I always did better on the walls.

Thats fine to charge 6sq.ft. but your customers are always the same, half broke and don't really give a damn about quality, just price. You can count me out and most other guys on this site out to, doing business like that. You only hurt yourself in the long run. I mean what are you selling them, seconds or something, and how much base are you laying down, any restraint edging in that price...bet not!

bigviclbi
12-10-2008, 07:52 PM
HMMM...... volume with smaller margins. Wal-mart works that way and they are doing alright. But $6.00 a square foot hurts, we have that around here as well. For large jobs you definately can find ways to reduce costs, sometimes by hiring an excavator who can get in and out more quickly than you especially now when they are so slow. Price is gonna play a big part in things this year, i always give a price with techo and a cheaper substitute just so people know the quality of pavers makes a difference in price.

Dreams To Designs
12-11-2008, 11:00 AM
TJ, how was the workmanship and the edging?

It's not just volume, but also efficiency. What it costs to actually perform the installation can be more important than the cost of materials. We all know how important having the right tool is, when you do primarily paver and SRW work, you usually own the right tools. Your labor will be experienced and be able to move quickly and effectively with lots of practice. If you had a crew and the equipment to install a 400sqft walkway or patio in a day, rather than two or three, realize the savings in labor. And that crew handles another job or two in the next day or two.

Quality can suffer at these rates if you are rushed and you don't follow the basic guidelines. Another factor is the quality of the paver, not all inexpensive pavers are bad. Often they are simple shapes and colors and can be laid in quick, tight patterns with minimal cutting.

I could never imagine doing that kind or work or specifying it, as my advised average is double the numbers in question. Clients should be happy when the job is finished and still have a sustainable hardscape many years from now.

Kirk

TPendagast
12-11-2008, 02:41 PM
Efficency has very little to do with $6 psf.

In most cases the major product alone is 2-3$ psf (the paver). then you factor in excavation, prep and base eeeeek!

From what ive seen, the larger driveway type jobs get pounded out these days by companies with a min ex and an attachment that picks up an entire row of pavers at a time (essentially laying a 4x4 square at once).

So because of the the huge area, lack of difficulty of the job, no exteme cuts or special design and the sheer fact of size (ie discount on bulk paver purchase) you could be looking at $6 psf because the company is literally doing and entirely different job from you (albiet the same results).

Most of us dont lay pavers with a mini ex, and in my opinion from the ones ive seen around here, they look junky (seems all connect, belend patterns are blotchy because they got dropped in lot by lot instead of mixed and so on).

But for production purposes (commcercial ares and large driveways) this method really cant be beat,and it is on the level with blowing in mulch instead of doing it by hand, you really cant compete!

TJLANDS
12-11-2008, 03:37 PM
TJ, how was the workmanship and the edging?

It's not just volume, but also efficiency. What it costs to actually perform the installation can be more important than the cost of materials. We all know how important having the right tool is, when you do primarily paver and SRW work, you usually own the right tools. Your labor will be experienced and be able to move quickly and effectively with lots of practice. If you had a crew and the equipment to install a 400sqft walkway or patio in a day, rather than two or three, realize the savings in labor. And that crew handles another job or two in the next day or two.

Quality can suffer at these rates if you are rushed and you don't follow the basic guidelines. Another factor is the quality of the paver, not all inexpensive pavers are bad. Often they are simple shapes and colors and can be laid in quick, tight patterns with minimal cutting.

I could never imagine doing that kind or work or specifying it, as my advised average is double the numbers in question. Clients should be happy when the job is finished and still have a sustainable hardscape many years from now.

Kirk

It was on a stone dust base and concrete was used for an edge. Grade and what little cuts they did have looked fine. Customer was happy with it and more happy about the 5 grand he saved. Some of which I will get with some nice landscaping upgrades.

Sunscaper
12-11-2008, 04:48 PM
Thats fine to charge 6sq.ft. but your customers are always the same, half broke and don't really give a damn about quality, just price. You can count me out and most other guys on this site out to, doing business like that. You only hurt yourself in the long run. I mean what are you selling them, seconds or something, and how much base are you laying down, any restraint edging in that price...bet not!

That is only to say that the cheaper competition doesn't know what they are doing. Just say your apples to apples in quality and selling the same product. Markets vary by region. I cannot see how you can charge $6.00 per s.f. with a $3.00 per s.f. paver in any region either. This variable has to have alot to do with it. On average I am paving $1.50 per s.f. for pavers here. In P.A. 3 years ago the local manufacturer was at $1.35 per s.f. I wonder why paver pricing varies so much from region to region. Do you guys in NJ sell alot of tumbled product? Perhaps it could be the availability of aggregate or sand????

Sunscaper
12-11-2008, 04:53 PM
Out of curiosity. How does concrete work as an edge restraint up north? We use it here with alot of success but minus freeze thaw cycles?

CertPro
12-11-2008, 05:14 PM
It doesn't. It ends up cracking and separating and eventually peels away.

TJLANDS
12-11-2008, 06:20 PM
It doesn't. It ends up cracking and separating and eventually peels away.

That is not necessarily true. I have seen, and used, concrete( Type M) for some paver applications that have lasted with no cracks whatsoever.
You can use the same mix that we use for heavy cultured stone walls.

Strawbridge Lawn
12-12-2008, 05:41 PM
Sign of the times I think.. People need and want to stay busy and will go to great lengths to do so. I think we all will have ot re-evaluate what we charge to some degree as the big profit
days are numbered. What once was will be no more for a while with this economy. Now that gas has come down, it would be nice
if our material cost follow.