View Full Version : Bidding questions about wall.

05-26-2004, 12:55 AM
Normally all my work is just cost of materials x 2 and that gets my labor cost in there as well for the final price. Is this a typical rate for small retaining walls as well?


I've attached a picture of where the proposed wall is. Point (B) on the wall is about 2 ft lower in elevation than Point (A) is. This job is such a small scale job that I can just go ahead and dig out the area for the base and then start stacking and backfilling as I go, while checking the horizontal level of the blocks.

Anyways, is 2x the typical rate thats going around. I've got another customer that wants a small scale wall such as this, and I do alot of work in a part of town where walls like these are NEEDED due to the terrain.

Any input would be appreciated:)

D Felix
05-26-2004, 01:33 AM
How high will the wall be at it's tallest point? What size blocks will you be using? Do NOT exceed manufacturers recommendations for hieght on this one!

As for pricing, its just like anything else. Figure material and equipment cost, add markup. Figure out how long you think it will take, and apply your hourly rate to that figure.

Jobs that size I tend to start thinking in terms of either 1/2 days or full days. If it only takes an hour or two in the morning (I know it's bigger than that), you still have drive and set-up time, in addtion to having to switch gears and do something different later in the day.

I'm guessing here, but digging that out by hand, setting base and remaining courses, no cutting of blocks, and backfilling (depending on wall hieght), two of us would be looking at around 1 to 1 1/2 days at the most. That is without knowing hieght.

Remember that setting the base takes the longest of any aspect of it, if you do it right.


05-26-2004, 01:36 AM
Oh yah, sorry. It's 3ft high, and its the 3" wall blocks from HD. From what I understand I need to lay 6" of compactable gravel and sand for the base... does that sound right? And just use a contractors level as I go along.

D Felix
05-26-2004, 01:52 AM
I've not used the 3" wall blocks, but I'm VERY sure that exceeds manufacturer specs.

The 4" blocks we occasionally use are not to be installed at a hieght greater than 2'. I've seen them higher, but I'm also sure those walls will fail in time.

At that hieght, I'd be looking for at least a 6" block, maybe even bump up to a full 8" block.

Forget about the sand, just lay them on the gravel. If you need to use something as a leveler, use flume, not sand. Anything angular will lock together, the sand will eventually move with water flowing through.

Compact the soil in the trench before laying any gravel. Bring the gravel in in 3" lifts, compacting in between lifts.

A good torpedo level or a 1' level will work best for leveling the block. Start at the lowest point and work up from there, stepping up as needed. Use a dead blow hammer to persuade and set the blocks in place. Don't just level the individual block, level it with the last one too.

And make sure you put in a drain tile behind the wall. At 3' high, no matter what block you use, there will be enough water to push that wall over at some point in time.



edit: forgot to add that knowing the hieght of the wall, we would probably be looking at around 1 1/2 days for 2 guys. Maybe a little more without seeing the site in person.

05-26-2004, 01:52 AM
should looks something like this... although the stones i used to render this pic are twice the size as they should be, but you get the general idea. and I'm using a lighter color of stones as well, not this dark stuff.

D Felix
05-26-2004, 01:56 AM
Now that I see that rendering and understand what you are doing a little better, I have a suggestion. I still stand by my warning about the 3" blocks, but I would suggest turning the downhill side of the wall into the hill a couple of feet. It would look better and would give the wall a little more stability if it was a true interlocking wall.


05-26-2004, 11:24 PM
So your saying to turn in the right side of the wall into the hill by about 2 feet or so? I just did that rendering really fast with photoshop:)

05-27-2004, 09:02 PM
Ok, the blocks I'm going to be using run roughly $4.00 at Home Depot. I figured out that I will need roughly 195 of these blocks for the wall. Is $10.00 a block installed a good price if I purchase each block $4.00?

Oh, and by the way, these blocks are 6" high, and 16" wide on the face...

steve in Pa.
05-27-2004, 09:39 PM
I'm with d-felix i wouldn't use the 3" blocks. They will not do the job without failing. we are certified anchor wall installers and there 4" are good only up to 2' with out the use of geo-grid. I would go with a 6" or 8". 8" would be your cheapest route and most profitable because generally cover a full sq. ft.

05-27-2004, 10:44 PM
$20 per square foot of wall gets you labor then add material costs...your labor should never be more then your materials.


05-28-2004, 12:20 AM
if they have their minds set on the 3" block, build a wall behind it out of standard concrete blocks 8x16 with the two holes in them.. Build the wall out of that to begin with, using rebar and concrete, then build the wall using the 3" blocks in front of it.. I did that on a similar job and it worked well; just cost them alittle more, but it will last forever..

05-28-2004, 01:58 AM
nevermind, its n ot 3" blocks, i accidently said it. its 6" blocks. i meant the wall is going to be 3' (feet)

05-28-2004, 11:40 PM
Alright, tell me if this sounds like a good plan.

I figured I'll need roughly 215 stones (and that account for some extra).

215 stones @ $4.31 ea. = $926.65

A few yards of dirt, and a yard of a rock base.

I should also account for any thing that goes wrong, so I will figure in a $150.00 for that as well.

I changed the length of the wall from 20' to the total length of the driveway which is 35'.

Final price installed is $2327.36

What do you all think about that price?

The area is extremely easily to access, I can pull my truck and tools right up to the spot of the wall, and it's only a 10 minute drive to the house and the house is 2 minutes away from Home Depot.

Thoughts please. Thanks!!

05-29-2004, 07:55 AM
sounds good Jwing

D Felix
05-29-2004, 10:31 AM
Your labor sounds about right for what we would be quoting based on what I can tell from the pics. Have you figured in tax? What about material mark-up? As for a "per block price", DON'T do it that way. You will find that the base course will take longer than any other part of the wall, and you will not make as much $$ on a wall that is 2-3 courses as you will on a wall that is 4-5 courses if you use the "per block" price.

Every job is different from the last, you have to figure out what you think each one will take and figure from that. A set "per block" or "per square foot" price for each and every job you do is not the way to figure it. You can use that as a "ballpark" to give the customer a ROUGH estimate if you wish, but I hate to even do that without some figuring.

As for the statement that labor should never be higher than materials, that couldn't be further from the truth! Many times we figure a job and the labor is higher than the materials. Part of this is because we also figure travel time as well as time to pick up and deliver the materials to the site. Also, if the work area is far away from the driveway, more time is needed to transport the materials, adding to the labor cost. We will be doing a job here a couple of weeks that we quoted at around $9k. $3-4k of it is materials, the rest is labor and equipment! And this is for two walls along a driveway, total square foot of face is roughly 210 square feet. This is for natural rock too, btw.

I don't know where you guys get some of the stuff you say.......... Good thing you are here, maybe you will stay in business a little longer if you stick around.


05-29-2004, 12:48 PM
Thank you D Felix, I always appreciate your help. I look foward to showing you pictures of these walls once I complete them!

05-30-2004, 10:01 AM
NNJLandman....labor more then often is way more then materials costs....case in point ever go to get yur truck serviced and lookat the bill.....parts costs $20 and labor was $400.....same goes for us....we install blocks and bricks that cost $2 - 8 and charge at least $ten to do it....GUYS remember time is money and always get paid acordingly when it comes to your time.