Cross tie retaining wall labor pricing

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by HPLawns, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. HPLawns

    HPLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    I am relatively new to the industry and have a client wanting a retaining wall made from railroad cross ties. I was hoping someone could shed some light on how I should estimate this job. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    Welcome to LS, I see that was your first post.

    If you don't know enough to know that RR ties are NOT appropriate for retaining walls, then you probably shouldn't be giving the estimate... RR ties will NOT hold up to the job. You can gain a few years with treated 6x6's, and the cost difference will really be minor. What you save with the ties, you will loose with labor and cutting equipment.

    Personally, I think they need to look at a SRW if they want to have something that looks decent and will last.
     
  3. HPLawns

    HPLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    I understand exactly what you are saying, this client already has the materials as he had planned on performaing this on his own. Retaining wall might be a bit of a stretch. This is only meant to be a seperation from his neighbors property and to divert a small amount of drainage. I suggested doing something differently, but he insists on the ties. Thanks for your reply.
     
  4. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    Just 'cause it's free doesn't mean that's what you should use!!

    It's been soooooo long since I've done any kind of timber wall, I'm afraid I'd be no help in estimating hours, though they will go faster than a SRW...
     
  5. HPLawns

    HPLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    I guess what I'm looking for is how much I should charge by the hour. I ran into another landscaper at the local supply store and he said he charges $85.00 an hour for such work. I was thinking this might be a little steep. I don't know what the industry standard is on an hourly basis. I would guess that it will take a two man crew appx 35-40 hours to do what the client has visioned. As you may well imagine, in my first year in this field and due the season, I need to land every job I can get my hands on. I am just looking for a little guidance as to not price myself out of a job and/or undersell my service.
     
  6. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    Just remember you can't make money if you get all of the jobs you bid. If you are getting 50% of them you should be in the ballpark.

    As for what to charge, there is no industry "standard". It all depends on you. Your overhead. Your desired profit. Your supply costs. Your labor. I could go on and on. YOU need to figure all of this up and then decide what to charge. What is being charged in Chicago is probably more than what is being charged here in podunk Putnam County, Indiana.
     
  7. HPLawns

    HPLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    I hear you, thanks for trying to assist. I think I'll go low on this one just hoping to gain some experience. Maybe after completion I'll have a better idea as to how to price the next one. Off of the subject, I have a alot of family in Portland, Indiana. I don't miss the winters up there, brrrrrr!
     
  8. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    If you've got any further questions, feel free to ask, I'll help however I can. I generally refuse to give any monetary estimates for the reasons I outlined above, but if I can, I'll give you an hourly estimate and you can apply it as you see fit.

    One thing you should look into is timber screws instead of 12" spikes. The screws will cost more up front, but they will hold better and go in quicker than the spikes. Many fewer headaches with the screws too, which will lead to less time on the job.

    Yep, it's been cold here the last week. We had been spoiled up to that point though. Today started out at -10 and the high hit a whole 8 degrees! I've got some family in Griffin, outside of ATL, and I don't envy your red clay!
     
  9. HPLawns

    HPLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    Thanks for the advice. The red clay certainly is far from the soil in your area. I had forgotten what real soil looks like until I visited the midwest again after many years of absense. I am familiar with Griffin, it's not too far from here. Thanks again.
     
  10. JLong

    JLong LawnSite Member
    Posts: 103

    I have done some work with railroad ties in the past, one thing to remember is that they will eat chain saw chains. remember to figure in the cost of the chains or at least the sharpening.
     

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