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View Full Version : 1st large scale install, advise greatly appreciated. PICS


Premier landscaping south
11-07-2009, 11:45 PM
He are a couple of pics from a property that I am currently estimating. Owner has had a professional design completed.

I have been taking care of the lawn and maintenance for the last month. Great customer and I believe she is leaning towards me for completing the landscape design she has.

Pics are start of the clean up I have done to prep the beds for install. She was very happy with the work. I have been supplied with the design work and plant list.

I will have to transplant about 10 Azalea's. to the side of the house.

Remove 2 Myrtle's in second pic.

New Mulch installed. What would be the best way to measure the beds for mulch estimate? My first instinct tells me about 35-40 yards. I am used to working with smaller scale beds that are more "square" than these are. Note: mulch will end at the front bumper of the car in the first pic. I will get a better angle second pic because it is slightly larger than the pic shows.

Natural edge on beds($1.25 per foot). No plastic or metal edge.

My situation: Just started full time business, so my schedule is not jam packed. In other words, I will have plenty of time to complete job if hired. I know where I stand and want to give her a fair price. I do not want to try to make a killing on the job due to the fact that I need experience and if I overbid the job then I have gained no experience and no profit. More work is in her plans after the front is done(Backyard Landscape).

Please don't get me wrong. I am not looking for a free estimate from anybody. Just some sound advise and heads up instruction from experienced professionals would be great. Maybe I can put together some bits and pieces to help myself through this.

I am looking at a total of 90 Plants, grass, shrubs and a few small trees.

Thanks,
Premier lawn Care and Landscapes.:usflag:

pls8xx
11-08-2009, 08:40 AM
If you do construction as well as design, sooner or later, you will be on site and need to determine the area of some irregular multi-sided shape. All that fancy software back at the office won't be any help, the contractor wants to call for the concrete, sod, or mulch, now not tomorrow.

What follows is how I make these calculations using a tape, pad and pen, and a hand calculator. I'm just going to cover the "how" not the "why". If you want to know the "why", take an asprin, and go start with the term "double meridian distance".

On the graphic below I show a 5 sided shape on a grid. Each of the corners has been asigned a consecutive number around the shape.

Next the coordinates are found for each corner from the grid, shown on the graphic in blue.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a93/pls8xx/gridarea.jpg

Using the form shown below, enter the corner numbers and coordinates. This is set up for a right handed person. If you are a lefty, you will want to reverse all of the columns so that the corner numbers are on the right side of the page.

The last value of the third column is duplicated and entered above the first number of this column. What was the first value of the column is duplicated and entered below the last one as shown in the graphic.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a93/pls8xx/AreaCalcs.jpg

Two fingers of the left hand are slightly spread and placed on the form, shown as a shaded area, such that the fingers point to the top value in column 3 and the second one down. The first value of column 2 lies between the fingers.

The right hand is free to do a short calulation of these three numbers with a hand calculator. Starting with the upper value of column 3, subtract the lower value and multiply the result by the value in column 2. This is shown on a slant in brown on the graphic. The result is entered in column 4.

The fingers are moved down one row and the operation is repeated. Note that some of the values are positive, some negative.

All of the values of column 4 are then totaled and divided by 2 to get the area which may be expressed as either a positive or negative number.

Does it work? Look back to the first graphic. There are three full shaded squares and six half squares that add up to 6 square units.

The only difference in a 20 sided shape is the number of rows of data.

kootoomootoo
11-08-2009, 09:07 AM
or you could use a tape measure

AGLA
11-08-2009, 10:29 AM
If you want to keep it simple to get approximate areas, there are three basic things you can do.

Anything that is rectangular is simply length x width = SF
Anything that you can approximate into a triangle with one of the corners being 90 degrees is length x width divide by 2 = SF
Most areas you can more or less divide into those two shapes.

For areas that are oddly shaped, I lay a 100' tape down the longest part of it and then use another tape to measure the width at even intervals (like every 10') being careful to try to measure at 90 degrees to the tape. Then you add all of the widths, divide by the number of measurements (giving you average width) and multiply that by the length = SF.

Another thing I do for rough estimates is to measure the length and then try to eyeball the width that looks like the average width, measure that part and multiply it by the length = SF. It is not extremely precise, but that depends on what you need.

pls8xx
11-08-2009, 11:05 AM
I live in an area where a lot of contractors do some very rough estimating of quantities. This opens the door for me to sell my service of construction review. By taking a close look at quantities built versus plan and contract terms I average saving the client 3 to 5 % of the project cost. For a couple of hours of my time ($300), the client often cuts his payment by $1000 on a $20,000 job. The client is happy, the contractor not so much.

Premier landscaping south
11-08-2009, 09:28 PM
If you do construction as well as design, sooner or later, you will be on site and need to determine the area of some irregular multi-sided shape. All that fancy software back at the office won't be any help, the contractor wants to call for the concrete, sod, or mulch, now not tomorrow.

What follows is how I make these calculations using a tape, pad and pen, and a hand calculator. I'm just going to cover the "how" not the "why". If you want to know the "why", take an asprin, and go start with the term "double meridian distance".

On the graphic below I show a 5 sided shape on a grid. Each of the corners has been asigned a consecutive number around the shape.

Next the coordinates are found for each corner from the grid, shown on the graphic in blue.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a93/pls8xx/gridarea.jpg

Using the form shown below, enter the corner numbers and coordinates. This is set up for a right handed person. If you are a lefty, you will want to reverse all of the columns so that the corner numbers are on the right side of the page.

The last value of the third column is duplicated and entered above the first number of this column. What was the first value of the column is duplicated and entered below the last one as shown in the graphic.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a93/pls8xx/AreaCalcs.jpg

Two fingers of the left hand are slightly spread and placed on the form, shown as a shaded area, such that the fingers point to the top value in column 3 and the second one down. The first value of column 2 lies between the fingers.

The right hand is free to do a short calulation of these three numbers with a hand calculator. Starting with the upper value of column 3, subtract the lower value and multiply the result by the value in column 2. This is shown on a slant in brown on the graphic. The result is entered in column 4.

The fingers are moved down one row and the operation is repeated. Note that some of the values are positive, some negative.

All of the values of column 4 are then totaled and divided by 2 to get the area which may be expressed as either a positive or negative number.

Does it work? Look back to the first graphic. There are three full shaded squares and six half squares that add up to 6 square units.

The only difference in a 20 sided shape is the number of rows of data.

You really have given me something to wrap my brain around my friend:confused:. I have been doing my best to "get" what you have presented. I will have to spend some time to study. Math has never been my strong point, although I do like a challenge. Thank you for your effort to respond to my thread:clapping:. Everything I can learn will improve my job site skills.

PLS

Premier landscaping south
11-08-2009, 09:35 PM
If you want to keep it simple to get approximate areas, there are three basic things you can do.

Anything that is rectangular is simply length x width = SF
Anything that you can approximate into a triangle with one of the corners being 90 degrees is length x width divide by 2 = SF
Most areas you can more or less divide into those two shapes.

For areas that are oddly shaped, I lay a 100' tape down the longest part of it and then use another tape to measure the width at even intervals (like every 10') being careful to try to measure at 90 degrees to the tape. Then you add all of the widths, divide by the number of measurements (giving you average width) and multiply that by the length = SF.

Another thing I do for rough estimates is to measure the length and then try to eyeball the width that looks like the average width, measure that part and multiply it by the length = SF. It is not extremely precise, but that depends on what you need.

Thanks for the information AGLA. Triangulation is something I have not used yet. 100' tape methoed sounds good to me also.

Thanks for enlightening me today. Sometimes it just takes a little of common sense passed along to really help me out.

Thank you for your time.

PLS

Premier landscaping south
11-08-2009, 09:42 PM
Another question..........Certain mark up on each plant equals labor cost or number of hours to take to do the job. Since I have not much experience doing this large of install it will be a tall order to accurately determine how many hours it will take to plant all of them. So I thought that a average mark up per plant would be an alternative.

Questions, comments, or criticism's are appreciated.

PLS

Stillwater
11-09-2009, 03:38 AM
I live in an area where a lot of contractors do some very rough estimating of quantities. This opens the door for me to sell my service of construction review. By taking a close look at quantities built versus plan and contract terms I average saving the client 3 to 5 % of the project cost. For a couple of hours of my time ($300), the client often cuts his payment by $1000 on a $20,000 job. The client is happy, the contractor not so much.

I don't want to hijack the thread by changing the subject but I am curious about how exactly does your service work. You sound like a 3rd, party dictating to the contractor his materiel needs.

say on clean fill for a grade change for a paver driveway, your extremely detailed measurements call for 50 yards, But mine call for 60 yards on contract because I want 60 yards on site. I need to account for compaction and the fills moisture % is unknown to me. you swoop in,change it and I only get 50 yards, but in reality I need 56 yards because of a high moisture content. Now I have to shut down to send a guy out to get six yards of fill but before I do that I need to get the contract amended. So instead of a small 4 yard pile of extra fill sitting off to the side I got 7 guys a skid steer and a excavator standing around costing me money so how exactly do you factor yourself in realistically speaking. Are you meeting with the client and reviewing all bids and helping the customer choose a contractor or are you after the fact.

Stillwater
11-09-2009, 06:25 AM
Another question..........Certain mark up on each plant equals labor cost or number of hours to take to do the job. Since I have not much experience doing this large of install it will be a tall order to accurately determine how many hours it will take to plant all of them. So I thought that a average mark up per plant would be an alternative.

Questions, comments, or criticism's are appreciated.

PLS

You need to know the condition of the soil so you can account for the soil amendment and a basic idea of how much waist you will generate and need to dispose of. But significant mark up, for example 2xs the plant cost or 2x's plant cost + 15% + the disposal + amendment or more is only really justified if you are warranting the plant for X amount of time. So basically you are charging for the plant, soil amendment and disposal the installation of that plant plus a replacement plant and labor for in the future in the event you need to be a stand up guy and honor your warranty. Now on a large job with a massive amount of planting this method will most likely not fly for cost reasons all you bids will be shredded and laughed at, for example you need to plant 15 Paper Bark Maples "your" cost is 799 each x2 + 15% + soil amendment + disposal of the large amount of waist. the total for just the trees without amendment and disposal and the 15% is 23,970 that prices you into bankruptcy because no one would pay that. So you fall back to your work history and use your best judgment as to how long it will take you and use you perman hr. labor rate + material and give the customer what ever limited warranty your wholesaler gives you if any. What ever you do Be careful because you can totally screw yourself, and be very careful if you inflate the charge to cover yourself to much over compensating can harm you down the road as well. I recommend you work this with your perman hour labor rate + materials until you get a few of these under your belt and you then can start bid billing. Want a solid answer from your area? ask the nursry that sells the plants what they charge to install them and take it from their

pls8xx
11-09-2009, 08:10 AM
Every new start up goes through that period of hand wringing wondering if your bid is too low and you will loose your shirt, or whether the bid is too high and you are pricing yourself out of work. This will not end until you know what your costs are. The fastest way to get though it is to keep careful records. And part of that is knowing what quantities generated that cost.

For example take the mulch bed job of this thread. If you do a good job of tracking the expense but divide that by an erroneous quantity of area covered, you will be mistaken in what you think your cost per yard was. This might lead you to under or over bid the next project.

Contracting is a competitive business. In the bidding process, one who can accurately predict his cost has an edge over those who donít. Say you bid 10 projects against a competitor. You know exactly on each job what it will take to make the profit you want and bid accordingly. The other guy just wings it, bidding sometimes high, sometimes low. When he bids high you get the job and make a profit. The only jobs he gets are from his low bids where he ends up working for nothing. Next year you are still in business, he is broke and gone.

Now about that little area calc routine I gave. There are all kinds of ways to find area quantities and most of them will give good results some of the time. But the one I gave is both fast and precise almost with out exception on any irregular shape. After 50 years of making field calculations I should know. Learn it and you will have a leg up on your competitors, and it is also the first step in the ability to accurately compute cut and fill dirt quantities while sitting on a tailgate.

White Gardens
11-09-2009, 08:25 AM
Another question..........Certain mark up on each plant equals labor cost or number of hours to take to do the job. Since I have not much experience doing this large of install it will be a tall order to accurately determine how many hours it will take to plant all of them. So I thought that a average mark up per plant would be an alternative.

Questions, comments, or criticism's are appreciated.

PLS

I never figure labor into plant and material markup. I only figure Hauling + fuel + any other expense involved in buying materials.

Some guys mark up 100% and some less. As a general rule of thumb I mark up 25% or more, depending on quantity, location and any other factor you can think of.

My 25% come from the fact that most of my customers in my area have a pretty good idea of how much plants and material costs, so on paper I don't want to explain to them why 20 dollar plant cost 40. I make up my difference in labor so I'm not losing any money on picking up materials. In my estimates I do make sure to put an astrix next to any materials that will be marked up and at the bottom explain that hauling and handling are figured into the estimate. People around here seem to pay for good labor rather than pay for good materials.

It all comes down to location. Sometimes I wish I lived in an area where most people don't have a lick of a clue about landscaping so I can feel more comfortable charging a bit more.

Premier landscaping south
11-09-2009, 10:27 PM
You need to know the condition of the soil so you can account for the soil amendment and a basic idea of how much waist you will generate and need to dispose of. But significant mark up, for example 2xs the plant cost or 2x's plant cost + 15% + the disposal + amendment or more is only really justified if you are warranting the plant for X amount of time. So basically you are charging for the plant, soil amendment and disposal the installation of that plant plus a replacement plant and labor for in the future in the event you need to be a stand up guy and honor your warranty. Now on a large job with a massive amount of planting this method will most likely not fly for cost reasons all you bids will be shredded and laughed at, for example you need to plant 15 Paper Bark Maples "your" cost is 799 each x2 + 15% + soil amendment + disposal of the large amount of waist. the total for just the trees without amendment and disposal and the 15% is 23,970 that prices you into bankruptcy because no one would pay that. So you fall back to your work history and use your best judgment as to how long it will take you and use you perman hr. labor rate + material and give the customer what ever limited warranty your wholesaler gives you if any. What ever you do Be careful because you can totally screw yourself, and be very careful if you inflate the charge to cover yourself to much over compensating can harm you down the road as well. I recommend you work this with your perman hour labor rate + materials until you get a few of these under your belt and you then can start bid billing. Want a solid answer from your area? ask the nursry that sells the plants what they charge to install them and take it from their


Thanks for the rock solid advise.

I do need to get a few under my belt. I don't want to low ball but on the other hand my fiscal responsibility has allowed me to work at a nice pace for just a little less to get experience. Soon I will learn to find the fine line in estimating and this will be crucial in order to keeping the industry healthy and our company profitable and heading in the right direction.

Thanks for your valuable time

PLS

Premier landscaping south
11-09-2009, 11:20 PM
I never figure labor into plant and material markup. I only figure Hauling + fuel + any other expense involved in buying materials.

Some guys mark up 100% and some less. As a general rule of thumb I mark up 25% or more, depending on quantity, location and any other factor you can think of.

My 25% come from the fact that most of my customers in my area have a pretty good idea of how much plants and material costs, so on paper I don't want to explain to them why 20 dollar plant cost 40. I make up my difference in labor so I'm not losing any money on picking up materials. In my estimates I do make sure to put an astrix next to any materials that will be marked up and at the bottom explain that hauling and handling are figured into the estimate. People around here seem to pay for good labor rather than pay for good materials.

Your advice and stillwaters kind of go hand in hand due to the fact that

It all comes down to location. Sometimes I wish I lived in an area where most people don't have a lick of a clue about landscaping so I can feel more comfortable charging a bit more.

Your advise and stillwater basically go hand in hand due to the fact that materials should not be marked up but just a little if any. My labor rate will be a deciding factor in this quote. Plus delivery charges and fuel for trips back and forth to where ever for what ever.

Thanks my Friend's.

Here are a couple of new pics from today when I was measuring for mulch and consulting with the client to wrap up a few questions I had.

I estimated 30 yards of mulch on first pic. Large bush/tree at back right will be removed.

33 yards on second pic. pic does not show bed protruding for about 35 more feet to the left. Plus first large tree at road will be removed at rh of pic.

estimated for 3" thick.

PLS

White Gardens
11-10-2009, 08:19 AM
That is a lot of mulch.

Do you plan on having it delivered in or are you picking it up yourself ??

With that much you could almost buy a semi-load directly from a supplier (no middle man) and get it much cheaper. But then you'll have to deal with what's left and how to store it. Most companies that supply around here can get 80 - 100 yard semi loads.

Those beds look like they could use a few plants too, might want to up sell some also.

Premier landscaping south
11-10-2009, 03:14 PM
That is a lot of mulch.

Do you plan on having it delivered in or are you picking it up yourself ??

With that much you could almost buy a semi-load directly from a supplier (no middle man) and get it much cheaper. But then you'll have to deal with what's left and how to store it. Most companies that supply around here can get 80 - 100 yard semi loads.

Those beds look like they could use a few plants too, might want to up sell some also.

Over 90 different shrubs,trees and plants will be planted. Will post some after pics if I get the job.

I will have the mulch delivered for sure. I can't store any mulch in back yard right now due to the fact that I am selling my house.


pls

White Gardens
11-10-2009, 03:17 PM
Over 90 different shrubs,trees and plants will be planted. Will post some after pics if I get the job.

I will have the mulch delivered for sure. I can't store any mulch in back yard right now due to the fact that I am selling my house.


pls

Well at least try to cut out the middle man if you can and call some hardwood lumber mills and have it shipped directly from them.

Heck, your in the south and you might be able to get some pine straw too. That might be a way to go.

Premier landscaping south
11-10-2009, 05:02 PM
Well at least try to cut out the middle man if you can and call some hardwood lumber mills and have it shipped directly from them.

Heck, your in the south and you might be able to get some pine straw too. That might be a way to go.


LOL. I hate pine straw. I am originally from Detriot, MI. Never saw the stuff before I moved here. Easy enough to install but does not look very good for long. I avoid it any time I can.

I feel you on the mulch though. I will try making a couple pf calls.

Raining cats and dogs down here today due to whats left of of Ida.

PLS

Caterkillar
11-19-2009, 12:38 AM
I live in an area where a lot of contractors do some very rough estimating of quantities. This opens the door for me to sell my service of construction review. By taking a close look at quantities built versus plan and contract terms I average saving the client 3 to 5 % of the project cost. For a couple of hours of my time ($300), the client often cuts his payment by $1000 on a $20,000 job. The client is happy, the contractor not so much.

How many estimates do you give per day?

lukemelo216
11-19-2009, 01:36 AM
are you doing this your self or with a few guys? just the mulch alone will take you three days or so by yourself. You should look into bark blowing. Maybe you can rent one or find a company that can do it for you. Those guys can do like 10yd/hour. very quick looks good and you still make some money on it. Around here they charge like $50-55/yard with their mulch and I charge $60/yard so i can still make $5-10 yard. You just do the edging and they do the rest. Just a suggestion. IF this is being done by yourself, if you have two or three guys with you then its not a problem to do it by hand.

pls8xx
11-19-2009, 10:19 AM
Caterkillar asked:

"How many estimates do you give per day? "

I'm not a contractor, so I don't give estimates in the tradition way. When reviewing a proposed project, providing project construction management, or reviewing a completed project for contract compliance, I do a lot of quantity calculations.

Premier landscaping south
11-19-2009, 07:26 PM
are you doing this your self or with a few guys? just the mulch alone will take you three days or so by yourself. You should look into bark blowing. Maybe you can rent one or find a company that can do it for you. Those guys can do like 10yd/hour. very quick looks good and you still make some money on it. Around here they charge like $50-55/yard with their mulch and I charge $60/yard so i can still make $5-10 yard. You just do the edging and they do the rest. Just a suggestion. IF this is being done by yourself, if you have two or three guys with you then its not a problem to do it by hand.

I am in the middle of the job right now and I am doing this by myself. I am not to busy right now so I have plenty of time to finish up. Third day on site today.

First day was removing 2 large privits, 1 huge ligustrum, and two crape Myrtle's.

Second day picking up partial order of plants and amendments and deliver and confirmed irrigation system was in working order( more work their when done planting). Then had to take care of some personnel biz.

Today laid out all plants and trees in one of the beds today and planted 32 items. cleaned up and went home.

She also asked me to take a look at making a water feature out of a huge planter she has buy her front porch. That should be a fun project.

Later

White Gardens
11-19-2009, 07:33 PM
Post pics when you are done....

Premier landscaping south
11-19-2009, 10:36 PM
Post pics when you are done....

No problem

Premier landscaping south
01-11-2010, 11:55 AM
Post pics when you are done....

Just getting around to posting some pics of finished job.

40 yards of mulch total. 95 plants and trees.

9 days and a lot of work!

It will look mch better in summer when all the plants are streching out.

Premier landscaping south
01-11-2010, 12:12 PM
Have more work to do including hedge trimming, limbing up ligustrums and making a water feature out of the blue planter near the front porch.

Rained like crazy one day thus the mulch have different shades. Laid down majority of mulch rained like crazy now mulch liad down after rain looks better.

Steiner
01-21-2010, 10:07 PM
Seems as though the ratio of turf/mulch/plants is off in that right front house facing bed? Did they not like to mow turf?

Premier landscaping south
01-22-2010, 01:29 AM
My client has been in house only 9 months now. Previous owner was an engineer whom I did not know. Although from talking to a old man who walked the hood every morning I know that the engineer took out a lot of cypress tress. So I guess the previous owner decided to make the beds so large. No other house in the neighborhood has anything like it.

Fine with me, I will be taking care of property this year.

White Gardens
01-22-2010, 03:47 AM
My client has been in house only 9 months now. Previous owner was an engineer whom I did not know. Although from talking to a old man who walked the hood every morning I know that the engineer took out a lot of cypress tress. So I guess the previous owner decided to make the beds so large. No other house in the neighborhood has anything like it.

Fine with me, I will be taking care of property this year.

Those are great properties to work on. I would say a minimum of 2 hours every two weeks, plus materials.

The landscaping came out great visually. I'm not familiar with some of the plants you used (I'm zone 5), so I can't really make a comment on plant selection.

The only thing that I don't like is the berms next to the house. I'm just not a fan of them, especially as steep as that. Otherwise I like the other berms on the property.

Great job, keep it up. Thumbs Up

I'm surprised nobody has given you any guff about the mulch volcanoes too. Not the greatest of things to do around younger trees.

Premier landscaping south
01-22-2010, 10:56 AM
Those are great properties to work on. I would say a minimum of 2 hours every two weeks, plus materials.

The landscaping came out great visually. I'm not familiar with some of the plants you used (I'm zone 5), so I can't really make a comment on plant selection.

The only thing that I don't like is the berms next to the house. I'm just not a fan of them, especially as steep as that. Otherwise I like the other berms on the property.

Great job, keep it up. Thumbs Up

I'm surprised nobody has given you any guff about the mulch volcanoes too. Not the greatest of things to do around younger trees.

I am pickin up what your laying down about the mulch volcano WG.
I did pull the mulch away from the base of trunk and the irrigation should keep the tree well watered. Mulch is a little deep though. Thanks for the insight my friend.

rexxxy
01-29-2010, 04:25 AM
i did a job for a frank loyd wright house..the entire landscape had to be odd numbered.prismed.odd number radius' u name it everything had to be odd or prismed. and i have no idea what youre trying to figure out that way

Premier landscaping south
01-29-2010, 01:05 PM
i did a job for a frank loyd wright house..the entire landscape had to be odd numbered.prismed.odd number radius' u name it everything had to be odd or prismed. and i have no idea what youre trying to figure out that way


????:confused:????