View Full Version : $10 / sf

DVS Hardscaper
05-09-2010, 11:36 PM
Saw this truck a few weeks back.

Nothin new for this industry here lately. But just wanted to create a topic to converse over.

I truely believe the industry in our main service area is washed up.......

White Gardens
05-09-2010, 11:39 PM
What is your main service area DVS?

DVS Hardscaper
05-10-2010, 12:02 AM
Frederick County Maryland is where we call home. Definitely a strong demand for hardscapes, no doubt about it. Just the money has dried up. And I attribute the dried up revenues not so much to what the market will bear, but to an influx of contractors and low ballers. At one time there were only 3 of us contractors to choose from. 3-4 years ago I was easily averaging $18 / SF for pavers, not including steps, walls, etc., no exageration, I have a file cabinet of signed contracts to back this up.

Although for the last 2 years we have been venturing south into the D.C. area market. And even that area is tough, but the clientel are more willing to pay for quality. The people in the DC area are wealthier. And they all have wealthy co-workers! Ok wealthy people are usually known to be snobby. Funny thing is - most of the people we work for in the DC area are friendlier and more down to earth! I guess they're not pretending to be what they aren't.....



05-10-2010, 12:44 AM
$10/ sf any size patio???

05-10-2010, 12:47 AM
Wow. Keep those guys up there, DVS.
So far I haven't seen anything like that here, although there seem to be more "hardscapers" around lately.
Hopefully, quality conscious people will be able to see these lowballers for what they are, especially with that crappy sign.

05-10-2010, 12:47 AM
The thing is about that ad is it does not say it includes materials. But if it does there might be specific guidelines that they must follow, like basic pattern of hanson niagara that would only work out to be full stones, and only 4 inches of gravel ( lmao ) but it is completely possible to do pavers for the price including materials and still make money, for example, i just took up and relaid a 400 sq ft patio and put two days of labour into it to finish, for $2850 10 inches of gravel but re-use old interlock. that includes polymeric sand as well. my cost on that job was just over $600. That is not bad for a 400 sq ft patio.

Granted if i could get $16 to $20 a foot i would be charging it. I just don't see that happening right now.

I also just took up a 670 sq ft driveway and reinstalled with 24 inches of road gravel and re use interlock, i charged him lower end at $5300 because he is one of my snow clearing customers and i am doing other work on the property. The job is worth about $6500 though but i am trying to get a bigger job from the guy in the future.

Granted though i am trying to raise the prices up to $10 a foot for 12 to 18 inches of gravel for a re - use of old materials.

05-10-2010, 01:32 PM
I don't think that guy is competing with you for any of your clients.
Greenscapes Unlimited is the company name.... just called. Just an answering machine.

So I am tweaking my usual model for working with clients, but not much. I am sticking to my guns about quality and our warranty that goes with it.

Those guys will be long gone when the customer realizes they have just been screwed with a crappy install.

Would you really want those customers that are willing to gamble with the Lowest bidder for their project? Think how quick you would be out of business if you did work to barely brake even.

The only jobs we have this year is what would have been filler jobs any other year. One week here, 3 days there, etc... Booked out for a whopping 6 weeks... in the middle of May! It is the recession baby.

Is there an area of your business you could expand to meet the demand of existing clients for the dollars they are spending?
Sooner or later you will have to replace those worn out Nikes that been on your feet for the last few years!LOL

05-10-2010, 02:51 PM
I just witnessed a 30 year landscape business across the street do a three sidewalk panels. I betting the local concrete guys feel bad for all the competition in the landscape department. Also I was replaced on scale floodworks jobs by landscapers. Didnt matter the wall bordered a 5mil road or that this was on a 1/2 mile stretch of gabions. They can build retaining walls right? Every faction of contract work is full of "lowballers" if you stop take a look from another angle you'll see this. It all corrects itself in a normal economy but this is far from normal.

DVS Hardscaper
05-10-2010, 07:56 PM
Correct, that guy is not my competition, they're not from the area, they were there doing work for a tract builder.

The problem with plastering a big sign that reads 10 bucks a square foot is everyone see's it. And they get that number in their head, thinking thats what it would cost.

And same concept goes for these recession bustin prices. Contractors that normally would do a job for $12k are doing it for $9500. So the customer that they just done a $12K job for $9500 is going to work and telling everyone "yeah we just got a new patio for $9500 and they did a great job". What the client isn't aware is that we're starving and the contractor most likely did not tell the client "we're losing our tail". So now the client's co-workers are wantin a patio and they're calling out contractors for estimates thinkin $9500 is the correct price!

vicious cycle.........

05-10-2010, 10:12 PM
I know exactly what company that is, there actually a pretty big business and do good work...they have been around much longer than you (i believe you said 13 years?) there right down the road from me

05-10-2010, 10:27 PM
Kinda like doing the "LIMBO" right now. How flexible/low can you go? I am certainly making things more flexible...

When I consult for my 2 hour minimum and charge for it, I let the client know that if they choose to hire us for work they can apply that fee toward any project over 5k. They like that bone!

I know guys here that throw natural stone patios in for 30% less, and that is what it looks like!
My gardens look killer this year with all my free time. Enjoy the scenic part of Maryland you live in and wait for your clients to call. They will.

It seems like every time one of my peers goes out of business up here, 10 more pop up with shovels in their hands and a beat up truck looking for a landscape rape!

05-12-2010, 09:34 PM
this type of thing is ruining the business...i want to start calling and have them come lay me a 10sq ft pad for $100

Stone Creations
05-16-2010, 08:04 AM
I agree with you DVS

05-16-2010, 09:54 AM
its just to draw customers in, the $10 sq ft is just for labor laying pavers not excavating and setting base. Its also only up to a certain size they give the "$10" deal. This company has 20+ dump trucks and a parking lot full of employee cars, I think they know what there doing

DVS Hardscaper
05-16-2010, 12:13 PM
"up to a certain size"?

The more square footage you put on the ground - the less the SF cost.

The less square footage you put on the ground - the more the SF cost.

But one 20oz soda you pay $1.59.

Buy a six pack of soda and up pay $0.98 / soda.............

Are you sure you dont mean *minimum*?


05-16-2010, 12:44 PM
yes I meant minimum

05-16-2010, 09:48 PM
I think $10 is not a bad price for SOME patios or driveways.

05-16-2010, 09:55 PM
I think $10 is not a bad price for SOME patios or driveways.

you would.

05-16-2010, 10:54 PM
you would.

Trying to start an arguement?

05-16-2010, 11:20 PM
Trying to start an arguement?

I think he's just stating the obvious....

05-17-2010, 12:18 AM
Its just a gimmick to get people to call. It probably goes something like this. Customer calls and says he wants pavers done for $10/sf. Contractor says that pricing is for square patios only, does not include pavers, running bond pattern only, full access to site with machines and trucks, all excavated fill is to remain on site, and free McDonalds for all crew members for duration of job.
I would do installs at that price all day long if it were under these conditions.

05-17-2010, 07:34 PM
I lost a bid for 626sq/ft of turfblock pavers by EP Henry. 8-10"of base, 1" of sand and fill in voids with top soil and seed was what was called for on the plans. My bid was $10,095.00. The guy that got the job did it for $4,127.00.
Not sure how this guy was able to do this for that price. These prices included all material and labor (his and mine).

05-18-2010, 12:55 AM
Do you really want to work with those customers? Willing to go with the least expensive bidder? I would love to have more work right now for me and my crew. But we don't. I will have to do different work to compete with the low bidder, and my overhead remains the same. 60% less =doom X desperation/unlicensed + uninsured.

I start a file at the begining of every year with every project estimate that we did not get and why. This years is so fat it is silly! When I review them I can find a common thread pretty quickly this year. 2 things stick out. 1, I was under bid. 2, the customer did not have enough money to realize their project properly, as I see it.

I have a friend who wants to start a whining club for contractors, instead of a networking one, so we can vent some of the frustration of potential customers and our experiences. In hindsight, it is pretty comical how quick we all lose our ethics in pursuit of a buck, or saving one.