View Full Version : Precast block retaining walls

07-30-2000, 03:12 PM
How do you price these projects out? I've got to price out a wall on a slope, its going to be roughly eight feet tall by forty feet long. I recall discussions about blocks not being uniform. What are the best blocks to use? Does the company have a website? Thanks for your time and info.

07-30-2000, 04:14 PM
first I would have the wall engerneered, because it is over 4' tall, this way your covered as far as the wall beening able to stay up, cost should be around $300 to $400. Next I like Versa-lok wall units easy to use and most times they go up faster than Unilock pisa walls. Pricing depends on the height and how much dirt you have to move, we are in the $30 per face foot range right now but can go cheaper if the have more than one truck load and wall is straight. remember the highter you go the cheaper you can put the all up ( untill you get over 16&quot; then prices go up because of moving large amounts of dirt)<p>----------<br>paul<br>

07-30-2000, 07:45 PM
Paul<br>Have you ever thought about using rebar instead of the plastic pins with the versa-lok block ? They cost me .20 cents each and I can buy the rebar cheaper and cut them to length.<p>Royce

07-30-2000, 10:30 PM
Hello Royce,<p>Though the rebar, in material cost, is cheaper, I'd have to value my time (or the time of my employees) too high to consider having them spend time cutting rebar. They can make more money for me building a project. Also, if you talk to the engineers at Versa-Lok, they'll tell you the pins are for alignment more than they are for interlock (except for short walls). V-lok walls are gravity walls. <p>As for pricing, make sure you price the base course higher than additional courses - much more work goes into them. Also price for 'stepping up' courses as the grade you're working with changes. Make sure grid and drainage are baked in there, too.<p>

steven Bousquet
07-31-2000, 07:27 AM
paul, we did 4 small walls on a hill. had to use wheelbarrels alot. very slow going up and down a hill. we charged, half day prep,$32 per ft. half clean-up.plus materails etc. we did ok but i would add another 30% to bid for working on a slope.good luck.

07-31-2000, 08:38 AM
Thanks Paul<br>For the reply. I use a cut off saw and can cut three rebar at a time. But your right it dose take time. And time is money !<p>Royce

07-31-2000, 07:55 PM
Thanks guys for the info. It's very helpful. The customer wants to hide an existing cement block retaining wall so structurally it isn't really retaining anything. I suggested they have a mason do a stone veneer. They want the price on the block anyway.<br>www.rapoza.com

07-31-2000, 08:15 PM
I would still look at some way of tieing it in to exsiting wall having a wall 8' tall and nothing to support it would make me nervous!<p>----------<br>paul<br>

07-31-2000, 08:17 PM
Steve I would look at other means of getting my material to the site other than wheelbarrows, even one day of a rt forklift would still be cheaper than all that hand work:)<p>----------<br>paul<br>

07-31-2000, 10:47 PM
I assume you directed this one to me paul....<p>I have figured out a good way....<p>2 laborers pushing the wheelbarrels instead of me! <p>Now, seriously, I don't have quite the setup or the right time yet for a larger machine, plus I am trying to focus my work on smaller type jobs, say under 1000 sq ft of pavers, and on rennovation work, which means a lot of 'tight areas' and a lot of instances where a larger machine will not work. <p>Also, I have built a good relationship with my excavator and have figured out that I really cannot own a machine/pay a operator for much less than he charges me already, so I do not see the use of binding myself up, at least for the current times, with all the money associated with machinery, such as trailers, larger trucks, maintenance, etc. For around 750 a day, (a full day, not this 8 hour crap with breaks and hour lunch) I get a bobcat skidsteer with 4 in one, a 300 series excavator, and a tandem to run as much material to and from the job as he can get there that day. Also, for small fees, he'll truch out materials, such as concrete, asphault, excess dirt, etc, for only the costs associated with dumping, no trucking fees. It would cost me a arm and a leg to get rid of some of this stuff myself, yet it comes to nothing when he's there. <p>On the other side, I realize this. When you buy equipment, it seems to create work for itself. In the last 2 months, I have done (or am still doing....) 3 paver/retainer wall jobs. Before I started the first, I sat down and figured out whether to rent everything or just go out and buy. Well, I went for it.<p>$5,000 later, I now own a demo saw, tub saw, plate compactor, laser level, etc. etc., and guess what, I paid them all off already and still made a good chunk of change to keep for myself. I am very happy with how things have gone, and firmly believe the saying 'it takes money to make money', which I would rephrase as 'takes the right tools to make money', especially with todays competive 'high tech' market. <p>So, if things continue as they are, I hopefully won't be pushing those wheelbarrels for much longer, or a lot less at least.<p>Just hope this was directed to me..........if not, oh well, it happens!<p>....and while on this discussion on wall block, I am still figuring out my pricing scheme, but have come up with this summary.<p>Basically, for most block, such as versa, keystone, etc, $30 a face foot seems to be good number that leaves a comfortable profit margin for most wall situations. Of course, price may vary according to site conditions and complexity of the design, but that figure covers most. Also, for other blocks, I will add on additional charges, ie. techo block, which is 11.00 + a face foot, will cause a increase for both cost of material and also for 'finding fee', as it is difficult to get.<p>Also, no one mentioned it yet, but cap pricing I have figured seperately. This is how I am going to price cap out. <p>A., I include the cap as part of my 'face foot' bid, therefore including the cap as a part of the wall and charging it as part of the wall. <p>B. I then am going to charge an additional $20 per linear foot of cap installed seperately also. This includes the cost of cutting, the cost of gluing/cost of bond, and other costs associated with cap.<p>would be interested in how others charge for cap. <p>steveair<p><br>&lt;font size=&quot;1&quot;&gt;Edited by: steveair<br><p><font size="1">Edited by: steveair

07-31-2000, 11:16 PM
Sorry Steveair, I meant that post for Steven Bousquet. <br>I know that your looking for a Ram rod or other small machine:)<br>I just hate wheelbarrows, only thing i can think they are good for is clean up :)<br><p>----------<br>paul<br>

07-31-2000, 11:27 PM

steven Bousquet
08-01-2000, 07:19 AM
i think wheel barrels are the fastest way to move material. if i hang out at the dump for a couple of days i can find good used ones and fix em up with parts i find on the side of the road. thats why i left my 773 bobcat and other loaders at the shop, and my bark-soil blower. cause wheel barrel is much faster than all them tractor loaders. JUst kidding , belive me my guys didn't know what the wheel barrel was i had to show them, and then they ask how to start it. this job there was no way around it, 4 walls between the house and a hill. could only get so close. sometime humor makes the day go by easier. have fun today,good luck and good growing.

08-01-2000, 10:00 AM
Steven Bousquet, I know what you mean, my guys wonder where the key goes on their shovels,and when they have to clean up you should see them try to push the broom around :) don't know just how many guys it takes to push a skid steer mounted sweeper around the job site, but it's alot :)<br>one day they will find the keys to their shovels and things will go faster<p>----------<br>paul<br>

08-02-2000, 03:26 PM
OK guys I need some clarification. $30.00 per face foot means the sguare footage of the face of the wall, correct? Also, when you give the price, do you include the face footage that may be below grade and that the customer can't see? Just want to cover all the angles because some customers will go out & measure, and they will think we're trying to pull one over on them. Thanks!

08-02-2000, 08:06 PM
Correct on the face footage. On bids I list 'exposed height' of wall. I sometimes include a detail on the drawing showing a cross-section of the wall, including # courses buried.<p>And for caps, I charge by the lineal foot. The reason is the price of a cap relative to it's face size is very expensive compared to the standard wall unit (1 Vlok is .66 sq ft, 1 Vlok cap is about .29, and the price is about the same for either). And as someone mentioned earlier, there's lots of cutting and gluing that goes into a cap course, necessitating a higher charge.

08-05-2000, 03:00 AM
<On bids I list 'exposed height' of wall.> So we basically are eating the cost of the base courses when quoting prices. Kind of like quoting a paver price by the square foot, even though we're basing it on a higher amount of pavers for cuts etc. If the wall you are doing is very long: you would have to adjust the $30.00 (from the average suggested) price a little higher to recover extra costs from the long layer of base course, right? Or does that average price work out ? Another thought, on a wall that's only going say 1 or 2 layers of exposed height, the price would have to up also? Thanks for the help!

08-05-2000, 05:56 PM
Take a look at my earlier posts in this thread - you should be accounting for the extra work of the base course in your bids. Otherwise, you'll mainly land the ones that are 2 courses high and 200 feet long - you'll have the best price in town.

If you do a search here on retaining walls I think you'll find quite a bit of pricing info. Prices will vary across the country, but base courses typically are bid much higher than the others, by a factor of 2 or 3.

Also - I don't bid by the square foot, lineal foot, etc. Though I use that info when creating my bid, I present it as a project price, not a per square foot price. It eliminates some of the price shoppers, and eliminates those customers who say "that's a good price for that 1,000 sqft patio. Now, the sq ft price is the same if we only want 200 sq ft, right?" Though I list the approximate square footage, it doesn't correlate directly to price. I also factor in site accessibility, detailed nature of the work, site repairs afterward, etc. I also factor in my impression of my relationship with the customer thus far: Have they had unrealistic expectations? Do they seem really demanding? Do they tell you about past contractors they've sued? Those sometimes have a really large impact on price.

08-05-2000, 06:14 PM
I feel that we can price out walls at the square foot price;
1. because that is the way that all of our jobs have to be priced out!
2. Equipment that we use allows us to do the work faster than people that make base by hand.
3. Staying in the ball game with our competiton.

all our bids include the base course figured in to the job can't give the people the right price if you don't have all the figures.

We get alot of jobs that are 20 ft of wall at 18" to 24" high including cap so you better figure out all the sq ft on job if wall is 24" including cap then better figure out all that wall that will be buried

08-05-2000, 10:07 PM
Paul - can you clarify? Are you saying that because you can prepare the base so much faster than by hand that, when you bid, you don't charge more for the base course than additional courses?

BRL - do you do more commercial work or residential? Paul and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum there, and that is likely an important reason why we bid differently.

When dealing with the decision process of a residential customer, I think (at least for my mktg strategy) that it's important that your services don't become this homogeneous commodity that can be compared to all others in the market based solely on price (per sq ft). I think by giving a project price, you help the customer to consider other issues related to the project - reputation, knowledge, after-sale service, etc. Also, if your clients are residential, you are likely drawing your own design and creating a bid for your design, not the design of another. The 'project price' also helps here to allow the customer to consider the creativity of that design, the enjoyment value your design will give them. Otherwise, it's again a homogeneous commodity that can be whittled down a nickle at a time playing one company against another.

08-05-2000, 10:36 PM
Stonehedge, we bid base course same as second course, all jobs that we bid and do are per sq. ft. sometimes they don't add up sq. ft right(forget to inclued buried courses).

With the equipment we have we spend less time digging our base, installing our base gravel and installing our base block.

For example, on a standard wall we installed this year, we excavated the base in two hrs. with our mini excavator, installed 400' of base stone and the first layer of wall block in one day. next day we finished job except for the steps that needed special reinforcing,steps with reniforcing where completed the next day along with cap.
this is with a three man crew and on driver that moves equipment around.total job sq. footage was 850.

08-05-2000, 11:39 PM
I didn't really mean that we lose the $ of the base course or the sq. ft. price on pavers. I think what I meant to ask, or clarify, was: does the $30.00 per face foot average price given to a customer also cover the base course costs adequately?
I've only done 5 or 6 paver jobs and a lot of timber retaining wall jobs (all residential, and I know I can sell these concrete walls to a few of my commercial customers), and I do base my price on all of the factors you and others have mentioned. Although in the end, I'll give my price by the sq. ft. if that is what my customer wants to hear. I also explain why its higher than the ridiculous quotes they have been getting from others. I don't remember if I posted this on another thread or not, but there are "contractors" in my area slamming pavers in incorrectly for $6.00 - $8.00 sq. ft. One guy did about a 100 sq. ft. walk from driveway to steps, used leftover dirt with some rock from belgian block installation around driveway for base, did NOT tamp at all, left elevated and exposed sides of job also untamped, for $6.00sq. ft. Needless to say its a mess now after only 5 months. I've only done 1 of the concrete block walls, but it was for a friend so I charged him just materials and my exact labor in exchange for experimenting with his property. I'm asking all of these questions because I'm going to be doing a few more soon and I want to make sure I price them right. I agree totally with your paragraph about the homogenous commidity pricing. I think its a matter of educating the customers against thinking that way (although I admit that I used to give that kind of price just because I thought it was easier for the customer to deal with or understand, instead of attempting the education process) I always figure out my costs for any project and give a price for the whole job, however, if the customer wants to hear it by the sq. ft. I don't have a problem doing the division for them ;).

08-06-2000, 08:17 PM

With the amount of work it sounds like you've done so far, it'll be difficult to charge extra for your reputation. However, if someone goes out and gets multiple bids for a 100 sq ft job and hires a co charging $6/ft, they likely got what they paid for. I can't imagine doing a project like that, that cheaply - I just bid out a project like that for $17/sq ft, and I wish I'd bidded higher.

Take some time to put together some sort of leaflet about how you install your projects - send it to them in advance of your meeting if you can. It'll answer many of their questions and help establish you as reputable. I do it because I usually forget 80% of what I should tell them.

08-07-2000, 12:40 AM
Thanks for the comments Stonehenge! The leaflet is a great idea that I will do. And you're right about forgetting all of the details to tell the customers. I ended up doing a walk for that other guy's neighbor that ended up being $15.00sq. ft. and I wish I had priced that one higher too. The difference between my job and the other guy's was very obvious, and the other neighbors noticed too, so hopefully I'm building a good reputation. Thanks again.