Estimate ?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by grassyfras, Jul 14, 2001.

  1. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,473

    HI guys and gals,

    I had a thread recently asking if I under charge for when I do landscaping. This time I have a new job and I would like to know if my estimate is right. Let's say my travel time is zero; ALL i have to do is trim about 10 small bushes with a HR 1500 hedgetrimmer. I think thats the right name, its an echo if I have the name wrong. Then a few years ago I put rock down for her and tore out alot of ivy. Some of the ivy is growing back and the weeds are comming threw her lava rock so I will have to pull of all the weeds out of her beds, half are rock half are mulch. I think we put 3 yards of rock down and 3 or 4 yards of mulch down if that helps at about 2 or 3 inches. I have no idea how much time that will take. She also wants 2 or 3 small bushes that won't be hard to take out. Then she wants 3 bushes planted but she has no idea what kind so I will have to go to the nursery and pick somthing out. Then I figure I mark up the price by %15. Does that sound right? Her yards is really looking bad latly and shabby in the beds. So I'm thinking about charging around $250 plus the bushes with the mark up. AM I still really off. Thank you for your time. Giving estimates is the harderst thing for me in this buisness everthing else comes pretty easy.
  2. Avery

    Avery LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,389

    You are way off on your mark up on the plant material. Should be in the area of cost X 2.5
  3. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 749

    You dont give too many details, so it will be hard, but I would say you are in the ballpark, but maybe a little low. 10 small bushes,,, how small? I try to get $45-55/hour for bushes. So 10 bushes, maybe an hour? Weeding sucks, so I charge a lot. Its generally quick work too. 6-7 yards of bed, but how weeded? If very heavily weed covered, 2-3 hours? If light, 20 minutes. Tough to call, but i say about 35-40/hour. The bushes... i hate bushes, they always die because customers dont water them enough to start. Removal of 3 small, maybe 75-100 bucks, install about the same price + 30% markup. 15% is low to me. So factor in time it will take to weed, but without weeding i say 50/trimming; 200/bushes + bush cost + markup,, at least 250 in my book, then add weeding.
    just my ideas
  4. cp

    cp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 263

    If I pick up the shrubbery when I go to the nursery then I usually m/u 100%. If I make more than 1 trip then I charge time spent whatever your hourly rate. Mulch is m/u 100% and then the weeding and bed prep is determined and added usually X.XX per man hour.
  5. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 1,277

    This is going to sound like a strange way to estimate, and while I don't use it as a straight formula, it does help to put some of the smaller jobs into perspective, and gets you charging what you need to charge.

    1) Forget all about this project for right now. We'll get to it later...

    2) Figure out how much money you'd like to earn per year.

    3) Figure out how long your average season is in days per year (around here it's about 7.5 months x 4.3 weeks/month, or 32 weeks. 32 weeks x 5 days per week = 160 days. Subtract 20 rain days from the season and I have 140 days in my season, in which I have to earn my annual pay).

    4) Take your figure from #2 and divide it by #3. This will give you the amount you need to CLEAR (after materials, labor, insurance, rent, taxes, etc) each day to earn your living.

    5) Now, let's get back to this project. How long do you think it will take you to do this project? Put it in 1 of 2 categories: half day or whole day. Because even if it takes you 2 hours to do this, with all the running around you'll have to do, it'll take a half day.

    6) Figure out your materials and labor costs (use #5 to help with the labor costs) for this project.

    7) Figure out all G&A, loan payments, etc (all of my non-labor, non-material costs amount to about $300 per working day - you can use that # for now). There's a little bit more that goes into this number, but it's not important for right now.

    8) Add up #6, #7 and #4. This is what you ought to be charging. Surprising, isn't it? If this is a one-day project, and you have 2 people working for you, you should be charging about $1,000, using my numbers. But honestly, I wouldn't touch a $1,000 job that took a 3-man crew a whole day. Hopefully this is a 1/2 day job for you.

    I realize this method is a little lengthy the first time you do it, but it gets you to focus on the most important thing in creating these bids - making a living from your work.

    Good luck!
  6. carl28

    carl28 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    Never gets any easier no matter how big you get just more time consuming and nerve racking. In this part of the country we see more and more small companies popping has been my practice over the past five years to reevaluate the market semi annually. the way things are today with the over abundance of spending and work I can realisticly charge 45$ per hour per man for all construction work and 35$ per hour for maintainence. This figure is flat across the board no breaks no dicounts just flat charges.
  7. AltaLawnCare

    AltaLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 962

    Stonehenge is right on the money!
    You have to figure out what you to earn in a years' time.
    instead of having 2080 hours (52wks * 40 hrs) we only have "in season" less downtime. For myself, I figure 24 hrs per week for 8 months which comes to about 768 hours to earn that yearly figure instead of 2080 hours.
    Then add the self-employment expenses to this.
    Then add equipment cost per hour to this.
    Then add any materials marked up by the gross margin method to this.
    All this should give a cost as a basis for a bid worksheet.
    A guy I know gave me some good advice; he used to run a demolition biz (he now bids comercial sales for a living), he said he would bid what he needed to in order to make what he needed - it didn't matter what anyone else bid on the job or what the client was expecting.
    I look at it like this, this is a customer getting a bid for a service from a company, not an individual pricing a job.
    Of course this is just my opinion...:)

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