View Full Version : retaining wall

04-11-2002, 10:13 PM
I was wondering what you guys charge for a versa-lock retaining wall. Do you charge by the ft or jobs ?

04-11-2002, 11:03 PM
I charge by the sq. ft.... figure for Versa-Lok you need to get about 20-30$ a sqft. depending on many variables.

04-11-2002, 11:10 PM
Not trying to nit-pick, but it's called fc. ft. (face foot) when reffering to vertical sufaces like retaining wall.

And there are a LOT of variables as PAPS mentioned.

04-12-2002, 06:49 PM
Variables for retaining walls:

Excavation required?
Length of bottom row?
Step ups in bottom row?
How many rows high?
How many blocks need to be cut?
Curved or straight coping?
Length of coping?
How many corners?
Filter cloth?
Weeping tile?
Site access

Squre foot pricing? Impractical if not impossible.

04-12-2002, 06:56 PM
Face ft pricing is not hard!
You have to know your wall, your costs and all of what diginahole mentioned. Then divide by the face foot ofthe wall. We do it all the time!

Heck I bid one yesterday that they asked for the price of the wall by the running foot. Try working that one out! 6 walls as 2 seperate line items.

04-12-2002, 07:05 PM
But you figured the price first and then calculated the unit price from your totals right? Priced by the job, then submitted in a form that client wishes to see, be it lump sum, Fc Ft, or Lin Ft.

04-12-2002, 07:13 PM
Squre foot pricing? Impractical if not impossible. Nothing is impossible. :)

Just use an incremental fc. ft. price.

Bottom line - xx per fc. ft.
Each additional x feet in height, add xx per fc. ft. (Once geogrid height is reached, this would be greater increase)
Curved wall - additional xx per linear ft. (covers cutting of coping)
Corners - additional xx per corner per course.

The fabric, drain tile, and drainage stone should be included in the base fc.ft. price. Since it "should" be used for all walls. It is just much more important in some instances.

With some extra time spent on calculating your method of pricing now, you will save hours of estimating and bidding down the road.

04-12-2002, 07:40 PM
Ya that's kinda my point DaveK. If a customer calls and says what do you charge for a retaining wall 3 ft high by 20 feet long, what would be your response? Hardly a unit price x quantity. At least that's the way I understand a by the Sq ft pricing structure. You need to reverse calculate to a unit price if that is what the client requires.

04-12-2002, 07:54 PM
Here's a question, How would you bid a wall off a set of plans?
All you get is a bottom elevation, and top elevation.
You can walk the site but, no dirt work is done yet, the house isn't built yet, nothing there but bare dirt!

Now they need a wall build, has to be included in the price of the house, Bid date, is 3 days, and the number has to be firm, no ups no extras. Walls is 20' long, base elevation 790', TOW is 793'

Bid it!

04-12-2002, 10:30 PM
First, I'd ask 'em how tall is the wall, then will it be curved or straight, then what brand of wall they are interested in.

I attempted to put a table/chart here...
But it didn't quite want to show up correctly.:(

If they are just looking for a ballpark figure, I'd say about $30 to $40 per fc. ft. depending on your choice of wall.


Well, it's a 3 foot high wall 20 feet long = 60 fc. ft. (above ground)

Add 10 fc. ft. for bottom course (under ground level)

So 70 fc. ft. x your price per fc. ft.
Add for cutting of coping. (Unless plans shows straight, assume curved wall, which means cutting of coping.)

04-13-2002, 06:59 AM
paul, That's a good question. I have only run into that scenario on a few occations, and most often I would decline to bid. I do mainly residential work for homeowners. so 99% of the time I do the design work.

.... but then again, you do have a set of grading plans with expected elevations on both sides of the wall so where is the guess work? The variables should be laid out in black and white. It is the clients responsibility to provide the design parameters stated on the drawings, his failure to do so is grounds for a change order. My bid would need to include a price for earthworks, as well as a price for the wall installed. If this doesn't suit the client I would likely decline to bid.

Now I'm not clear what you guys are trying to say, do you price a job by the quantity of wall, or the the quantity of work? It sounds like we are all on the same page but I just want to be clear. Here is the way I do it:

Excavating= Cu ft x unit price hand dig costs more than machine dig

Base prep = unit price x lin ft (add 3 lin ft for each step up)

Bottom row = unit price x lin ft (add 2 ft at each step up)

Field units = unit price x quan (unit price is less than bottom row)

Number of rows= covers cutting of blocks

corners = unit price x quan

coping = unit price x quan ( 2 prices straight or curved)

Backfill = unit price based on method x quan

Add cost of material.

So yes, I guess we do unit pricing, just not based on the face foot measurements of the wall. There have been segmented retaining walls that I priced out to less than $30 Fc Ft and more than a few that have landed in excess of $70 Fc Ft. IMO it would be lazy and dangerous to price out walls based upon how much material is to be used, and if I am getting what you guys are saying I think you would agree.

04-13-2002, 08:43 AM
I think we're on the same page. It is fc. ft. pricing, with additional calculations added.
Not much different than a lawn maintenance bid.... xx per sq. ft. (or sq. yd.) + other options ( edging x linear ft., number of obstacles to trim around, etc.

Main difference is that you have a different base price depending on the brand of wall.

The additional calculations should be about the same no matter what wall is used.

04-13-2002, 07:22 PM
Digin -

You and I handle this kind of proposal almost the identical way. How Paul bids regardless of wall height (relative to base course length) is beyond me. Maybe I'll have to sub all my base course work to him @ $24 per face foot, and I'll come in and finish. :D

But he does have a point, in that when I started looking into some commercial projects, and looked at a limestone outcropping project of 3000 face feet or so, there was almost nothing to work off of. Every other aspect of this building had nice detail drawings, except for the stone work, which covered a very large area, and had very minimal elevation info. It would have been a sweet project (likely way too big for us, but sweet nonetheless), but I couldn't put together a bid on a project that big with that little info. I'd have likely lost my shirt and would have been sending out resumes.

04-14-2002, 09:31 AM

I agree... some jobs look sweet on the outside but if we are unsure of how they will go its better to leave them for those who know how to handle that situation.

I wish I could remember Vander Kooi's words (I'm sure many have heard his story about them coming for the kids and the keys), but the idea he stuck in my head many years ago still echoes loud and clear. The amount of material used on a job doesn't have a direct relationship to what it takes to produce the product you are required to deliver. You really need to build the job in your head and on paper before you can fairly put a price on it. If you price a job by the square foot there are jobs that you will be priced too high for what is required, someone else will get that job. There will be jobs that you price too low for what is actually required, you will get these ones and loose money, but at least you will be working LOL.

One example I see thrown around here quite often that really makes me cringe has to do with installing nursery stock. Many people use the cost of material x 2 or 3 or ?. That makes no sense at all, it doesn't cost any more to stick a $50 poplar in the ground than it does to plant a $350 Jap. Maple. Guess which jobs you will find yourself doing? ... And here they come for the kids and the keys!!

04-14-2002, 12:15 PM
Ok then, here's a question. Now I'm not talking about planting just one tree or something you can just pick up any place.

In the old days we could get all of our material from one nursery, Now we have to go to 3 or 4 to find the plants. This = more travel and more labor picking up plants. On these $18-25K jobs, if your not doubling plant costs your going to get your self in trouble. Here's a break down of a few plants.
3" White ash cost $230, sale price $460, labor to install $35 to $50, trucking, per plant (20 trees per load) $10, unloading per tree $7, watering $2, mulching $10 (includes Mulch)

230+50+10+7+2+10= $309, now add in overhead, taxes, equipment replacment, tools, replacement %, etc.
Not much money to be made on one tree! Sure your cost may not be as high as mine, labor being one.

So how would you price out installing these 20 trees?

Let's see the numbers!

04-14-2002, 02:37 PM
OK, here goes:
Normal commercial pricing for me: $498.00 per tree so $9960.00.
If I have to be more competitive then: $9500.00 ($23.00 per tree less)

I figure that the installation of each tree is worth $100.00 so that raises my price a little. Also, the warranty % would vary according to the time of year planted. I figured 10% since builders run behind and often push the window for planting thus raising the failure probability.

04-14-2002, 09:12 PM
Ok paul here goes,

As you noted the number are really irrelevent, it's the way we come up with them that is important so these will be fictional numbers for illistration only.

Cost of materials 20 trees @ $1 = 20
prov tax @8% = 1.60
Replacement @ 60% $13
Delivery by nursery(ies) 100

subtotal 134.60

20 augered tree pits @ .1mh + .1equip hr
20 install tree and backfill water in @ .2mh + .1eh
Mobililization 3 man hours + 1 equipment hour

9 mh @ 15 = 135
3 eh @ 45 = 135

Overhead recovery 9mh x 20 = 180
Labour burden @ 14% = 18.90

Subtotal $603.50
Profit @ 15% = 90.50
subtotal $694.00
fed tax @ 7% 48.58


Naturally I have made some assumptions here and this is not a valid tender, I will not be held to performing said work. LOL

I'm sure there will be lots of questions here, lets keep this going. I think its a good exercise. I don't think I piped in the last time this went down.

04-16-2002, 11:01 PM
Labor Burden? WTH is labor burden? Just me being curious. Otherwise, great post!

04-16-2002, 11:30 PM
Labour burden is all the monies you pay because you have employees that relate directly to how much you pay them; ie workmans comp, employment insurance, pension plan contributions, health insurance ect.