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View Full Version : Square Foot Pricing on retaining walls


Gr8WhiteNorth
02-09-2010, 07:34 PM
I've searched lots of threads on the subject of estimating based on square feet and I can see the arguement for why its not a good pricing method. I personally don't use this pricing method, but I was wondering if any of you guys have come up with an average at the end of the season on what you are installing walls for. I use mostly Allan Block Senior. It would be nice to get a comparison of averages.

PlatinumLandCon
02-09-2010, 10:45 PM
A million.

pitrack
02-10-2010, 02:05 AM
A million.

There's always gotta be that guy.

Gr8WhiteNorth
02-10-2010, 06:03 PM
Always!!!!!!

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 12:29 AM
If your using the AB classic 8"x12"x18" on a large job with a strait wall $18 per block should be competitive depending on how much you pay for them, I pay around $5 per block and each block face is a square foot, but every job has different variables smaller walls you may have to charge more but on a large commercial job $18 a block has worked for me but sometimes I charge more.

CALandscapes
02-11-2010, 12:32 AM
That average would certainly be quite the average. So we'd be averaging prices off of two foot tall walls to thirty foot tall walls, correct? Who would even care what that average is?!

I'd be able to understand, however, if you were curious about the average cost of a face foot; this would more or less take the size of the wall out of account.

In so many words - get your s*** straight before you go asking generalized questions. And you said it best yourself: "I can see the arguement for why its not a good pricing method."

So MY question to YOU is - Why even ask?!

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 12:47 AM
If your using the AB classic 8"x12"x18" on a large job with a strait wall $18 per block should be competitive depending on how much you pay for them, I pay around $5 per block and each block face is a square foot, but every job has different variables smaller walls you may have to charge more but on a large commercial job $18 a block has worked for me but sometimes I charge more.

That pricing would only work on that block if the wall is on flat ground and strait, every different type or brand of block would be a different price the question you asked is to general there is way to many variables in every job.

Gr8WhiteNorth
02-11-2010, 11:12 AM
An average is still an average.
This data will have a higher standard deviation caused by factors like wall height (base course proportion to total sq.ft.), straight wall vs. stepped vs. curved, geotextile, drainage, engineering, etc.

Would make sense to post a wall design and have everybody price it?

Gr8WhiteNorth
02-11-2010, 11:16 AM
If your using the AB classic 8"x12"x18" on a large job with a strait wall $18 per block should be competitive depending on how much you pay for them, I pay around $5 per block and each block face is a square foot, but every job has different variables smaller walls you may have to charge more but on a large commercial job $18 a block has worked for me but sometimes I charge more.

Just wondering if your commercial jobs require internal drain system with weeping tile, drain rock, geotextile? What about geogrid?

How do you excavate? mini-excavator?

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 11:32 AM
[QUOTE=Gr8WhiteNorth;3411832]Just wondering if your commercial jobs require internal drain system with weeping tile, drain rock, geotextile? What about geogrid? How do you excavate? mini-excavator?[/QUOT Every wall we build has some type of drainage system, we back fill up to the bottom of the top course with #57 limestone anyway so theres are drain rock and we do charge extra for geo grid. We do our excavation and back fill with a 161 kubota mini and a New Holland LS 190 skid loader.

Gr8WhiteNorth
02-11-2010, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the answers. I'd like one of those kubotas.

Your block is so cheap at $5. I'm paying $8.80 (cdn) per standard unit this coming season. Looks like I'll have to start shopping around.

My average is around $25/sq.ft, but it sounds like you are getting materials quite a bit cheaper.

Cheers

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 12:56 PM
Thanks for the answers. I'd like one of those kubotas.

Your block is so cheap at $5. I'm paying $8.80 (cdn) per standard unit this coming season. Looks like I'll have to start shopping around.

My average is around $25/sq.ft, but it sounds like you are getting materials quite a bit cheaper.

Cheers

I would say our average price is closer to $21-$23 since most walls are not strait or on flat ground, and the place that makes the block is only 30 minutes away so thats probally why its cheaper I also have many stone yards around me Im paying $7 a ton for recycled concrete and $15 a ton for my limestone.

PlatinumLandCon
02-11-2010, 02:26 PM
There's always gotta be that guy.

There always will be when people ask these general questions.

That average would certainly be quite the average. So we'd be averaging prices off of two foot tall walls to thirty foot tall walls, correct? Who would even care what that average is?!

I'd be able to understand, however, if you were curious about the average cost of a face foot; this would more or less take the size of the wall out of account.

In so many words - get your s*** straight before you go asking generalized questions. And you said it best yourself: "I can see the arguement for why its not a good pricing method."

So MY question to YOU is - Why even ask?!

Amen. If you dont know how to price it, don't begin to think about building it.


As a sidenote: My average is above $40/sf. I'm not sure how much you guys make at the end of the year, but it sure doesnt seem like much....

Gr8WhiteNorth
02-11-2010, 03:42 PM
Platinum - So your average is $40 then.

I've done jobs around that mark too. Those would be mostly smaller jobs with low walls or really high walls requiring engineered specs with geogrid, etc.

What block type are you using? How many sq. ft. of block do you install per season? How many hardscaping crews do you run? Just to put things in perspective.

Also, my question was not asking how to price a wall. I've been doing that since I was 17. I want to know the prices of other contractors installing a similar product.

As a sidenote: My year-end net profit margin is in line with StatCanada's historical reports for our industry. But with that said, we have a very diverse service offering that covers a few other industries. Check it out, its a great resource that you can purchase for cheap. It shows how your financial statements compare to other Canadian businesses in our industry.

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 03:53 PM
There always will be when people ask these general questions.



Amen. If you dont know how to price it, don't begin to think about building it.


As a sidenote: My average is above $40/sf. I'm not sure how much you guys make at the end of the year, but it sure doesnt seem like much....

Blah blah blah yeah everybody on lawnsite makes millions, have I made that much on a job , yes is it normal, no not here anyway. Last year we did a wall that was about 3000 square foot at $18 a sq it took 3-4 guys 8 days to do it, the wall was strait and the ground was flat, after the job was all done I had no more than $10 a sq into the job that includes all materials labor and fuel, so my business made about 24k in 8 days so if thats a bad profit for one crew to make in a little over a week I will move to your area!

PlatinumLandCon
02-11-2010, 09:13 PM
Blah blah blah yeah everybody on lawnsite makes millions, have I made that much on a job , yes is it normal, no not here anyway. Last year we did a wall that was about 3000 square foot at $18 a sq it took 3-4 guys 8 days to do it, the wall was strait and the ground was flat, after the job was all done I had no more than $10 a sq into the job that includes all materials labor and fuel, so my business made about 24k in 8 days so if thats a bad profit for one crew to make in a little over a week I will move to your area!

I'm not saying I make millions, but you should bank at least $150k a year to make any biz worthwhile, regardless of industry. Yeah, you get a truck and other personal-use items paid thru the biz, but you should still be able to vacation a few times a year, eat out any night you want, buy a nice sports car, etc. If you aren't able to truly say "I enjoy my life and have pretty much anything I want", why are you in business?

$24k in 8 working days is pretty good, but I'm not sure how the hell you have only a $10/sf all-in cost for that wall... cheapo grey block in my area is $7/sf.

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 09:38 PM
I'm not saying I make millions, but you should bank at least $150k a year to make any biz worthwhile, regardless of industry. Yeah, you get a truck and other personal-use items paid thru the biz, but you should still be able to vacation a few times a year, eat out any night you want, buy a nice sports car, etc. If you aren't able to truly say "I enjoy my life and have pretty much anything I want", why are you in business?

$24k in 8 working days is pretty good, but I'm not sure how the hell you have only a $10/sf all-in cost for that wall... cheapo grey block in my area is $7/sf.

If you would have read my previous posts you would know that I used Allen Block AB Classic and paid about $5.00 a square for the block, all the base was recycled concrete that we got for $7.00 a ton, the back fill was #57 at $15.00 a ton, labor and fuel about $2,500 so yes It only cost me around $10 per square.

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 09:41 PM
Also I am talking American dollars not Canadian.

Moneypit
02-11-2010, 09:57 PM
georgerk82, you had 3-4 guys for 8 days and it only cost you $2500 ?
Wow, thats some cheap labor. At least it is here in NY.

scagrider22
02-11-2010, 10:04 PM
georgerk82, you had 3-4 guys for 8 days and it only cost you $2500 ?
Wow, thats some cheap labor. At least it is here in NY.

New York is more exspensive but my labor on that job was probally closer to $3000.00 The pay rate around here is anywhere from $8-$16 an hour I would say the average is about $11.00

glaciator
02-12-2010, 12:47 PM
I charge $50/face foot (sq. ft) using moss rock dry stack. One ton does about 15 face ft. and the materials are about $200/ton. It's all in the labor and the skill of working with natural stone. Just my 2 cents (USD) :)

Gr8WhiteNorth
02-15-2010, 08:25 PM
what's moss rock? What range of sizes are typical?

glaciator
02-15-2010, 09:19 PM
Here in Colorado, moss rock is rock, usually a sandstone or granite that has been harvested from the mountains or sometimes from farmer's fields that has been covered with natural mosses and lichens for 1000's of years. It is collected and then sold on pallets. Some is great for building dry stack walls, or sometimes larger boulders are used in the landscape as "character" boulders. Wall stone sizes are anywhere from 12" x 8" x 4" thick up to 3' long x 18" x 12" thick. Selecting flat larger sizes and building walls from them is an art. See my website main page for an example. The main image on the top is a moss rock wall with stairs built in and with larger boulders built into it as well. Wooly thyme is planted in the cracks and drapes down the wall. See the photo gallery or click on the slide show images that come up if you see one you like for more examples.

Rocha_Construction
02-18-2010, 10:01 AM
In my opinion, Platinum is one of the fews in this topic that knows what he is talking about.

If you take any type of gravity wall that is over 4'-5' in height, after you put the price of the excavation, block, grave, geogrid, caps, labor, etc... the price goes over $40/sf.

Not to mention if you use more expensive and better looking blocks.


The price on a retaining wall is low as long as the wall is not over 3'. Other than that, if you charge $18-$25 for a tall retaining wall, you are either loosing money, or not installing half of the materials that should be there.

DVS Hardscaper
02-18-2010, 11:39 AM
I skimmed this topic. Saddened to see all the responses where not one alledged expert spoke up and said "forget about SF pricing".

You wanna make money?

Ok, then get this unit pricing out of your heads.

Retaining walls are needed when things are ugly, otherwise a retaining wall would not be needed. Variables are what create the ugly.

The only way I price jobs is based on calculated materials, engineering costs, permit fees, estimated production hrs which include equipment mobilization to and from the site, as well as drive time per employee, per day, both ways.

Access and staging is the biggest factor. We're doing a wall now where there is only enough space to bring in 1 tri axle load of fill at a time. The wall is in the backyard, very little space for staging and safely manuavering a skiddy bopper around. All this stuff devours production hrs. A per block or per SF cost would cripple you. We had about 10 days of excavating and prep work before a block was ever brought to the property. We've profitably built walls in 2009 for an average cost of $19 / SF, and we've done walls in 2009 for $50 / SF. With the final lcost for each and every job deriving from the aforementioned calculations.

Also, with all due respect - you CAN build walls over 4-feet WITHOUT grid :) Walls built with grid are referred to as "segmental walls". A wall built without grid is usually referred to as a "gravity wall". This is accomplished by using Keystone Standards installed in double rows. Or by using block similar to Techo's Monumental Wall. There are also other brands equivilant to the Monumental, which are cheaper in price.

As I always say in every topic regarding walls - they are not to be taken lightly. If you are unsure of what you're doing - then stay away from the work.




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