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View Full Version : River Stone Walkway pricing Q's


saldonna
07-31-2009, 10:08 PM
We just installed a river stone walkway(1-3" stone), roughly 280 sq. feet. It is a twisting walkway about 65 ft in length by 4 feet in width after we were finished. Before we took on this project, there were 28 slate slabs already in place used as a walkway surrounded by mulch/dirt.

quick background info. This is in Chester county, PA. A VERY wealthy area, something like top 20 wealthiest counties in the country. so pricing is generally a little inflated around here.

We dug out the entire area around the slate about 4-5" down, leveled the slate, and then installed edging. We laid the rock- about 3 yards worth (or buckets, I assume it is slightly less than a yard per bucket). Now my question is, what do you charge for a project like this. it took us 26 total man hours, with a little over $400 in materials. I will post pictures soon.

Thank you for any help, input, or advice here.

saldonna
07-31-2009, 10:18 PM
Here are a few pictures.

saldonna
07-31-2009, 10:24 PM
And a few more

saldonna
08-02-2009, 04:38 PM
anyone??? We are new at this and need pricing help.I will tell you that we received $626 for the total job, and that includes our material costs. We feel we were ripped off. Again 27 Man Hours and a little over $400 in materials.

what would be a fair market price for a job like this? $1200, $1500 ????

ALLPro Landscaping
08-02-2009, 05:06 PM
did you consider your mark up on material, plus delivery, and you hourly rate, lets say your hourly rate is 75.00 per hour, 75x26=$1950.00, Lets say your mark up is 20% on material, material = $480.00, delivery charge = $125.00. Job total = $2555.00 or $2500.00 even. yeah I would have not touched that for under 2000.00, You have to realize any type of gravel is very labor and time intensive. Also did you charge dumping fees for the material you pulled out, plus your doing double the work by taking the slabs up, moving the to the side, the putting them back down again.

ALLPro Landscaping
08-02-2009, 05:08 PM
so you only made 226 from the job, what about taxes, insurance etc.

saldonna
08-02-2009, 05:23 PM
Exactly what we thought...

on our invoice, we charged $55 per hour and had all the materials listed out. We gave a 10% discount to the customer because it was in the neighborhood of another client that we do a lot of work for- and this is where the problem lies. We do work all summer at this clients home. We charge a flat rate of $15 per hour(for each person) for only this customer. And he, w/o our knowing, told the other client(who we did the walkway for) that we only charge $15/hr.

our invoice came to $1,500. ?the client crossed out our 55/hr and wrote in 15 because thats what he was told and cut is a check for that.

pretty ridiculous. and there was no estimate given because the wife told us to "just do it" after we finished the mulch. lessons learned.

we don't wanna burn any bridges in this community because it is very big and have other clients, so we are just going to bite the bullet and take the loss. gotta think for the future.

we didnt charge any dumping or misc. fees that would normally be charged.

the guy says, I would have gotten brick if I wanted to spend $1,500.

I just chuckled.

DVS Hardscaper
08-02-2009, 05:26 PM
A written agreement goes a long way.

This industry never ceases to amaze me.

Big, Shiney, F-250 with the cool sounding diesel engine. Cool shirts on the guys backs.

Yet....."paper work, duh, whadda we need dat fur"

jay albers
08-02-2009, 05:32 PM
man you guys got alot to learn $15 hr! i live in the poconos and wont do anything less then $20. The rich will try to take advantage with you everytime. Chalk it up to a learning lesson and move on. The job looks great! keep your head up and keep movin foward!

tthomass
08-02-2009, 08:59 PM
$15 per man hour in an "up scale" area???? Walkway with river jack in it in an "up scale" area? I'm sure you're proud of your work and did a good job but you need to research more on hardscaping and at the least get into pavers.

Just my opinion, I don't like it. A problem I would see is the stone getting on the stepping stones and something to roll your ankle on. Additionally, their landscape is horrible. Perhaps you can up sell them? Pending your experience, use a designer.

Get a contract on everything and you would probably be doing yourself a favor to lose the $15/hr customer you have. After wages, taxes and workers comp you're losing money. Personally, if I were to do that job it would be $2,500+. Heck, I quoted someone yesterday to put a masonry/stone step in front of their stoop. ONE 6' wide step. I explained the process, regardless of job size and billing for two full days of labor. Yeah, they're paying a lot of money for one little step but just because the scope is small doesn't mean I can charge less. Determine your rate and stick to it.

mrusk
08-02-2009, 09:21 PM
And chester PA is not one of the top 20 richest counties in the US.

saldonna
08-02-2009, 09:28 PM
Thank you all for the advice. The customer who pays us the $15/hr is a friend. He has helped us out. I was a caddy at a golf club in the area and this development is home to about 30 members. The customer who we did the walkway for is also someone I have known for about 4 years. All the more reason why I can't understand his stingy ways to pay. but because these are people we "know", we are being less formal with everything. normally a real estimate is given, etc. just goes to show...oh and this gentleman who ripped us is a labor lawyer...haha :laugh: :hammerhead:

saldonna
08-02-2009, 09:30 PM
And chester PA is not one of the top 20 richest counties in the US.

:rolleyes: sorry, #21 as of 2009. it used to be higher.

Chester County, PA: It is the highest-income county measured per capita and by median household income in Pennsylvania, and has the 21st highest gross adjusted income in the nation (as of 2009).

per Wikipedia

PatriotLandscape
08-02-2009, 11:03 PM
did you edit the wiki yourself?

who cares richest whatever county, town, street. You are billing people at minimum wage rates. You are a contributor to one of the major problems in this industry.
No other way than to be harsh but you set yourself up for it and you are just going broke slowly. you are better off working for someone who is going to charge the correct amount rather than pretending you are a contractor. (Since you don;t have conotracts)

Low ballers are making it hard for everyone to make a buck. Friend or not he needs to pay the correct rates.

I can't get passed the 15 dollar thing wow I wouldn't get out of bed for 15 i'd make more moeny staying home and washing my trucks.

Bru75
08-02-2009, 11:21 PM
Thank you all for the advice. The customer who pays us the $15/hr is a friend. He has helped us out. I was a caddy at a golf club in the area and this development is home to about 30 members. The customer who we did the walkway for is also someone I have known for about 4 years. All the more reason why I can't understand his stingy ways to pay. but because these are people we "know", we are being less formal with everything. normally a real estimate is given, etc. just goes to show...oh and this gentleman who ripped us is a labor lawyer...haha :laugh: :hammerhead:

If you are going to work for your friends, don't be less formal, be more formal. Put everything in writing and make sure they understand it all up front.
This is business, and those guys are ripping you off.
I think I would explode if anybody ever crossed through my price and inserted what they "heard" I would charge. Get rid of both these guys if they won't pay a reasonable price, let the competition have them.

saldonna
08-02-2009, 11:22 PM
did you edit the wiki yourself?

who cares richest whatever county, town, street. You are billing people at minimum wage rates. You are a contributor to one of the major problems in this industry.
No other way than to be harsh but you set yourself up for it and you are just going broke slowly. you are better off working for someone who is going to charge the correct amount rather than pretending you are a contractor. (Since you don;t have conotracts)

Low ballers are making it hard for everyone to make a buck. Friend or not he needs to pay the correct rates.

I can't get passed the 15 dollar thing wow I wouldn't get out of bed for 15 i'd make more moeny staying home and washing my trucks.


ok listen. You don't know a thing about the work we do or what kind of relationships we have with certain customers. The whole purpose of this topic was to get an idea what other people would charge for this project and compare it to our original invoice that we gave them for $1566. That was charging $55 per hour with a "friendly" 10% discount taken off the bill.

The one customer we work for is a personal friend and we are at his home all summer- He has also helped us get off the ground with equipment repair, etc., and that is the SOLE reason we charge him a flat rate of $15/hr to do work around his house. that is pulling weeds to planting flowers, to whatever misc jobs he may have for us.

We our in the business to make money- at a fair market price of course. We are def. not in the game to low ball people or build a business in any way comparable to that line of thought. We are completely discouraged about what has happened with this project and were looking for some advice. I appreciate the input you have given, but please don't assume anything about how we try to operate. It's just unfortunate- for us- that it came to an end like this. We have learned a valuable lesson and will move forward from here. What we don't want to do is leave a bad taste in the mouth of a client in a neighborhood we are trying to capitalize on. And yes, the rich are shiests. it sucks

wurkn with amish
08-03-2009, 06:30 PM
Is that 55 dollars per man or 55 dollars for 3 guys, be more specific. If he crossed out your rate and paid you 15 dollars an hour for 3 guys then you got hosed. ($4.75 an hour per guy---hope this isnt true!)
Correction-- you got hosed any way. Do like someone else said and value your time more. Get rid of both.

DVS Hardscaper
08-03-2009, 07:55 PM
ok listen. You don't know a thing about the work we do or what kind of relationships we have with certain customers. The whole purpose of this topic was to get an idea what other people would charge for this project and compare it to our original invoice that we gave them for $1566. That was charging $55 per hour with a "friendly" 10% discount taken off the bill.

The one customer we work for is a personal friend and we are at his home all summer- He has also helped us get off the ground with equipment repair, etc., and that is the SOLE reason we charge him a flat rate of $15/hr to do work around his house. that is pulling weeds to planting flowers, to whatever misc jobs he may have for us.

We our in the business to make money- at a fair market price of course. We are def. not in the game to low ball people or build a business in any way comparable to that line of thought. We are completely discouraged about what has happened with this project and were looking for some advice. I appreciate the input you have given, but please don't assume anything about how we try to operate. It's just unfortunate- for us- that it came to an end like this. We have learned a valuable lesson and will move forward from here. What we don't want to do is leave a bad taste in the mouth of a client in a neighborhood we are trying to capitalize on. And yes, the rich are shiests. it sucks


You have to understand that some of us make a living and raise families from this industry. Meaning we take professionalism very seriously.

Anyone can charge anyone what ever they want. If Eddie wants to mows lawns for $2, that's his right.

But what is freightening is that you did a job without a contract. This is how fly by night companies work. (I type this as we're doing additional work tomorrow for a current job under way, and we have nothin in writing. Difference is, if this guy doesn't pay - I'll drop a 45# plate on his foot when I see him at the gym.)

You gotta put things in writing. This way you have a guide so both parties know what to expect and who is responsible for what. I could go on and on, but I got estimates to work on tonight......

saldonna
08-03-2009, 10:53 PM
You have to understand that some of us make a living and raise families from this industry. Meaning we take professionalism very seriously.

Anyone can charge anyone what ever they want. If Eddie wants to mows lawns for $2, that's his right.

But what is freightening is that you did a job without a contract. This is how fly by night companies work. (I type this as we're doing additional work tomorrow for a current job under way, and we have nothin in writing. Difference is, if this guy doesn't pay - I'll drop a 45# plate on his foot when I see him at the gym.)

You gotta put things in writing. This way you have a guide so both parties know what to expect and who is responsible for what. I could go on and on, but I got estimates to work on tonight......



agreed, well put. If this guy wasn't a lawyer we would be taking further action. I do not like to get screwed. But it seems in this case it is the only option. I am writing him a letter though. We'll see what happens.

Thank you everyone for the input/advice. contracts are key. can't trust anyone I guess.

Bru75
08-03-2009, 11:35 PM
agreed, well put. If this guy wasn't a lawyer we would be taking further action. I do not like to get screwed. But it seems in this case it is the only option. I am writing him a letter though. We'll see what happens.

Thank you everyone for the input/advice. contracts are key. can't trust anyone I guess.

Trust is not always the problem. Sometimes two people are just on two different pages, and each honestly believes he is right. Putting it in writing and including as much detail as possible can help to eliminate a lot of problems. Like Ronald Reagan said "Trust but verify".

crazymike
08-04-2009, 12:04 AM
Burn bridges or not, if someone wrote in their own price on one of my invoices I would be back in the morning to give a refund and pick up my materials.

Even if it costed me more to put things back the way they were, I would still leave with my integrity.

DVS Hardscaper
08-04-2009, 07:27 PM
Sometimes we need to chalk it up as lessons learned.

A couple years ago I went to a client's home to pick up the signed contract and deposit. the Mrs. said to me "I was reading your contract last night, I can tell you've been in business a long time".

But, all jobs are different. Back in June we did a job for someone who in all reality is downright stingey. They tried to used wording of my contract to worm their way out of paying for something. They were very unreasonable. Well, she was, he wasn't. Everytime I would speak, she would rudely interupt me. So we came to a comprimise that was in their favor.

I was mad. I'm still mad :)

So what did I do? Came back. Thought about it for a couple weeks. Then, went back and made some changes to my proposal.

Lesson learned for me. Another area of wisdom to add to my file of lessons learned. Now, if the issue ever arises again, I've got it covered.

Ya know, I have never had any problems with doing work for attorneys. I've previously thought about this too. I think the reason many have problems with attorneys is because their paperwork is too vague. Doesn't cover all the bases. They set theirselves up for disaster. Then blame the attorney. When really, it's their fault.

DVS Hardscaper
08-04-2009, 08:50 PM
Holy cow, i need to start reviewing my spelling before I post!

You'd think MRusk was typing for me!!

saldonna
08-04-2009, 09:24 PM
yes, there def. should have been a written contract. it originally started with laying mulch, which they payed w/o a problem. Then we talked to the wife about the walkway and she gave the go ahead. that was where the problem started. I should have went right to the Mr. I am going to write a letter, stating that we barely covered material costs and some extra compensation should be considered. I have known the family(through work) for about 4 years so I find it hard to believe they would totally screw me.

Anyhow, thanks for all the replies. some good advice all around.

kaferhaus
08-18-2009, 10:21 AM
I don't have a lot of hard and fast "rules" in the way I run my business but one that I do have is nothing valued over $500 gets done without a contract.

I realize this thread is about "pricing" but the rock in that job is a accident waiting to happen.... AND with this pita client being an attorney I know I'd sure get that stuff leveled out where there was no chance of anyone stepping off a flat and breaking an ankle or of one of those rocks moving onto a flat and causing the same thing.

We've done similar work but with smaller stones and always run a plate compactor over the entire walk. But to each his own. Maybe we've been doing it all wrong....

hiringus
02-18-2010, 04:53 AM
What ever happened to this? What was the outcome? If the guy was a real dick about it I might suggest taking the payment as the labor costs and playing a mechanics lien on the property for the ~$400 in materials. You have your bill and you have him trying to undermine you 40 dollars an hour by simply crossing off your invoice? Lawyer or not I'd like to see him prove he is in the right on this.

Rocha_Construction
02-18-2010, 09:44 AM
Didnt you talk to the owner to let him know your rate before starting?

Even before without a contract, I am sure you must have told him that you charge material + $55/h.

Or did you just start working without even saying your rate???



If the owner would have scratched the $55/h rate and put $15, I would have stopped him and said that the rate includes dumping fees, delivery fees, insurance fees, etc.... And that if he wanted the $15/h, I would have to separate those fees as an independent expense.