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View Full Version : steep learning curve


cutntrim
08-20-2002, 10:52 PM
After more than a decade of maintenance I'd been itching to get into some installation work for a while. Well, now I can say I've gotten my feet wet.

Four seperate, and different projects this season had me feeling like I was back in grade school - but without a teacher. Project #1 was a raised garden bed using 6"x6" P.T. lumber. #2 was the same raised garden idea, only this time 5 different gardens, all curved, and all done with wall block. #3 was a 350 sq.ft. patio with porch under sliding patio doors, done with tumbled pavers. Finally, #4 was a set of garden steps and landings done with 4"x4" P.T. lumber down a slope with a 7' rise over a 30' run.

Couple of things learned...

Add an extra day leeway to finish a project if you're not sure how long it'll take. Invariably each project takes longer than you expect it will.

With the above mentioned in mind, allow a generous 'fudge factor' when giving an estimate. All 4 jobs cost more than I originally estimated. A couple were a LOT more.

Again along the lines of estimates...make sure the customer knows that your estimate is just that - an 'estimate', and not a firm bid price. That being said, an estimate should be reasonably accurate. For me that means within 10% of the final invoiced price.

Also, be absolutely certain of the details of the job before beginning, and it's best to get it in writing. That way any change orders can be invoiced for above and beyond the originally estimated charge. I learned this the hard way, when the garden step guy's wife insisted that the landing at the bottom of the steps was to be an additional 10 feet in length (after we'd already built it).

Lastly, expect the unexpected (such as the crazy wife wanting a PATIO at the bottom of the steps as opposed to a landing) , and roll with the punches without losing your cool. Again, I learned the hard way - minor freak out involving physically tearing up the bottomlanding (3 foot deep re-bar and all) after spending a great deal of time on it in extremely hot and humid conditions.

While I'm happy to have done some true 'landscaping' over the past month, I'm just as glad to get on my Toro Z-Master and go on autopilot again for a while!

dukester
08-21-2002, 12:26 AM
I understand where your coming from. Life is a lot less complicated on a mower. I have to act like I've worked hard when I drive it back on the trailer. So much quilt. Welcome back to the easier part of our work.