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View Full Version : Pricing a landscape job


Sanderlin
03-02-2010, 07:56 PM
I have a customer that wants to do a landscape job on her front yard. Sod, schrubs, stacked rock beds, irrigation system and walkways. The total cost of materials for this job will be $2100-2500. What is a good way to price the job. I would normaly double this and make it a even 5000 for the whole job. Is that how most of yall do it or is that not enough? I don't want to overbid the project but I don't want to cut my throat either. I have been doing lawncare for 8 years and im just starting to try a few landscaping jobs and havent figured out the best way to price it.

dclandscape
03-02-2010, 08:21 PM
Are you serious.....

Sanderlin
03-02-2010, 08:35 PM
Am I serious about what?

tyler_mott85
03-02-2010, 09:25 PM
You need to break it down more than just doubling prices for landscape jobs.

At minimum you need to know exactly how many plants you are going to be planting. Figure out how long it will take to plant each plant (little hint: it takes the same amount of time to install a 2gallon plant vs a 3gallon plant) and then multiply your Hourly Rate x Number of Plants x How long to plant each plant.

Then you need to do the same thing for the Sod and the stone wall. Figure out how long it will take to lay, say...100 sq ft of sod...then do the same multiplication. How long to stack 10 sq ft of linear wall? Same multiplication.

Ask yourself how long will it take to take out the old bushes...get the ground ready for the sod. Add that onto the end too.

Then if you will be disposing of stuff you will need to charge a fee for that.

Then when you get all that added up...being as thorough as possible add 10% at least onto the back side to cover any hidden obstacles or foul weather problems.

You need to keep track of how long it really DOES take you to perform the tasks because after your first install that number that you write down for how long it takes to plant a plant is what you use to multiply your next bid.

Always keep track of your times...Go over your bid twice and don't forget anything.


You may end up close to your original guesstimate of 5k for this install...but that doesn't mean the next one will be right. :waving:

Darryl G
03-03-2010, 01:08 AM
My question is do you feel you're qualified to do the work? Do you have experience with walls and walks? Who is going to install the irrigation system? If it's beyond your abilities, you're better off accepting that and passing on the job than getting in over your head and screwing it up and/or loosing a ton of money on it. Or team up with a landscaper who has done this type of stuff before.

Sanderlin
03-03-2010, 09:23 PM
No all of this stuff is basic stuff and ive done it all many times before. I just wanted to know yalls advice on pricing things. I guess I will just continue to do it the way that I always have because its simple and it works. I mean if materials cost 2500.00 and I charge 5000.00 then that is 2500.00 in profit for 2 days of work. I though yall might have had a simple way to price things but the way yall descibed seems like more of a headache to figure out than it will be to do the job.

Darryl G
03-03-2010, 09:44 PM
Ok, have fun. I don't know how they work things down your way but here in CT I'd have to come up with a detailed contract with a 72 hour cancelation clause, pull permits, maybe give call-b-4 you dig a shout and would need a someone with an irrigation license. I get a retainer up front to cover the cost of materials as well. Anything over $200 bucks you need a contractor's license and I'd need permits because that would qualify as a "bonifide" landscaping job.

Well good luck.

Surfdunn
03-03-2010, 09:54 PM
Not gonna lie but most likely your gonna lose money your first couple installs. There is no easy way to just set a price. Your over head is diffrent then mine or anyone elses so you need to factor that in. Guessing you went and did a consultation with the customer for free no problem. what about when you came home and did the design are you gonna charge for that, or the time it took to search for the right materials, and prices of the material. Is there an existing landscape that needs to be removed, are there hazards in the ground. Dont forget about factoring in a warranty or are you just installing and thats it. The big things in the design are the easy stuff to figure out its the little stuff that will nip away at your profit margin. Never expect to receive a profit off the job until its done and the money in your hand

JNyz
03-03-2010, 10:14 PM
Just to let you know the $2500.00 is not your profit. It is your gross profit.

Three time materials down here in SE Pa.

MarkintheGarden
03-04-2010, 12:04 PM
No all of this stuff is basic stuff and ive done it all many times before. I just wanted to know yalls advice on pricing things. I guess I will just continue to do it the way that I always have because its simple and it works. I mean if materials cost 2500.00 and I charge 5000.00 then that is 2500.00 in profit for 2 days of work. I though yall might have had a simple way to price things but the way yall descibed seems like more of a headache to figure out than it will be to do the job.

Calculating an hourly rate is a detailed process and if you get a headache take something for it and get back to work. Calculating an estimate is also a detailed process, and again you may need to take something, or perhaps you can stop for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths.

You should search this site for some of the many extensive discussions regarding calculating an hourly rate, and using that rate to calculate estimates.

As you pointed out, you want to bid this correctly, and to do that you need to do the calculations. Is it really a two day job? Are the materials really going to cost $2,500.00? Did you consider the time to go to the material providers, make selections, load and deliver? Do you even know how to select shrubs, sod, and stone? Do you know that some shrubs are good selections for certain placement while others would not be?

Your original post mentioned several different types of work; stone work, planting, sod install, irrigation. None of this is basic stuff. And I think that you need to consider that you will need different sets of tools and skills for each of these. Do you know how to plant shrubs or install sod? Do you know how to cut and install stone? Have you considered preparation for the areas for sod, and foundations for the stone work?

I am not trying to insult you, I am pointing out that you are over your head!
Welcome to the club! After studying horticulture, landscape design, mechanical drawing, and a little engineering and material sciences, I still find myself in over my head from time to time. I have not mentioned the irrigation, because I have yet to get in over my head in that area.

Calculate your hourly rate, apply it to your estimates and expect to get acceptance for about fifty percent of the estimates you provide.

good luck

MarkintheGarden
03-04-2010, 12:24 PM
You need to break it down more than just doubling prices for landscape jobs.

At minimum you need to know exactly how many plants you are going to be planting. Figure out how long it will take to plant each plant (little hint: it takes the same amount of time to install a 2gallon plant vs a 3gallon plant) and then multiply your Hourly Rate x Number of Plants x How long to plant each plant.

Then you need to do the same thing for the Sod and the stone wall. Figure out how long it will take to lay, say...100 sq ft of sod...then do the same multiplication. How long to stack 10 sq ft of linear wall? Same multiplication.

Ask yourself how long will it take to take out the old bushes...get the ground ready for the sod. Add that onto the end too.

Then if you will be disposing of stuff you will need to charge a fee for that.

Then when you get all that added up...being as thorough as possible add 10% at least onto the back side to cover any hidden obstacles or foul weather problems.

You need to keep track of how long it really DOES take you to perform the tasks because after your first install that number that you write down for how long it takes to plant a plant is what you use to multiply your next bid.

Always keep track of your times...Go over your bid twice and don't forget anything.


You may end up close to your original guesstimate of 5k for this install...but that doesn't mean the next one will be right. :waving:

Many good points Tyler!

But I would like to disagree with you regarding planting shrubs. Sometimes planting a two gallon shrub and a three gallon shrub will take the same time, but I would calculate more time for the larger material.
Also, you need to take into consideration what you are planting. Boxwood, yews, juniper, and a couple others can just be dug in and watered. If you are planting azalea, rhododendron, hemlock, or so many other plants, you first need to be sure you are putting them in the soil and area where they can survive and then you need to do it in a way that they will survive. Considerations for how to select good plant material alone is extensive.

There is a reason why hundreds of books have been written to explain the details involved in any of the many subjects under discussion here.

Darryl G
03-04-2010, 12:34 PM
One thing I've learned about landscaping (I don't do that much of it) is that any idiot can stack up some rocks, toss in some bluestone, throw down some sod, dig a few holes and stuff some plants in them, and have it look decent. Not great, but decent enough to get paid for it. It's really not that hard to meet most customer's expectations. The trick is to do it in a manner that it lasts and continutes to look good for years to come.....poorly installed landscaping goes to hell quickly.

Assuredlandscape
03-04-2010, 04:09 PM
You figure your material cost $2500 take that and mark it an extra 5 hundred dollars or more. Then whatever your hourly rate is take that and multiply it by the amount of hours it will take you to complete the job. for example.
50x21=1050 then figure in gas and other expenses so add another couple hundred. and your looking at 5 grand maybe more after taxes.

tyler_mott85
03-04-2010, 05:58 PM
Many good points Tyler!

But I would like to disagree with you regarding planting shrubs. Sometimes planting a two gallon shrub and a three gallon shrub will take the same time, but I would calculate more time for the larger material.
Also, you need to take into consideration what you are planting. Boxwood, yews, juniper, and a couple others can just be dug in and watered. If you are planting azalea, rhododendron, hemlock, or so many other plants, you first need to be sure you are putting them in the soil and area where they can survive and then you need to do it in a way that they will survive. Considerations for how to select good plant material alone is extensive.

There is a reason why hundreds of books have been written to explain the details involved in any of the many subjects under discussion here.

I agree on everything you've mentioned. I was giving out the simple form of how to actually do the calculating. From his opening post I didn't think maybe he would understand soil conditioning and making sure your plant selection is correct for the location you're planting it. So I cut out the advanced "professional" stuff for a later post. In which you covered wonderfully! :weightlifter:

ds99ds
04-12-2010, 03:39 PM
Can I add one more adjustment to the gross profit thread? $2500 is not even your gross profit. G.P. is your selling price minus all of your direct costs. Gross profit minus overhead is net profit. In this case, your costs are $2500 for material, and, say, $600 for labor, and probably $200 for equipment usage (for your own equipment, it eventually needs to be replaced, right?) and $100 for vehicle usage. So your costs are $3400, your gross profit is $1600, or 32% if you charge $5000. Then you have your overhead, taxes, fees, advertising, for bigger companies a building and administrator. After you subtract your overhead for this job as a % of total income, you then have your net profit.