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French Drain Estimate

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by AgriCut, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. AgriCut

    AgriCut LawnSite Member
    Posts: 21

    As probably the majority of the people on this site, I am starting out on my own this season. I have been in the industry working for others for the past 5 years. Ive advertised a little and have gotten some hits and now I have a french drain estimate this week. I know how to do all the work, but Im worried about the bidding. I have an idea, but i want to know for sure. I dont want to underbid and lose money and overbid and lose the job as a whole. Does anyone have some "rule of thumb" for this? I went to the Bidding and Estimating thread, but theres nothing there so I brought it here. Do I try to mark up on the pipe, catch basin, machine rental, sock, stone, etc? if so, how much? I obviously pay for all of this out of my own pocket then collect when the job is done. I want to charge 35 per hour labor costs. Is there a standard rate like so many dollars per 50 ft, then add the 35 p/h labor costs onto that? This is all I can think of off the top of my head. If you are willing to help me out, but need more info than what I provided, just ask. Thanks
  2. customcurbdesigns

    customcurbdesigns LawnSite Member
    from Tampa
    Posts: 203

    Do a search in the irrigation section. YOu will have much better results.
  3. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,083

    Drainage I always bid by the installed linear foot. For runs under fifty feet I receive at least $6.00/foot unless a stringent install manner is required, ie bedding in sand, number of outlets/basins, etc. Then the price is increased to reflect these add ons.
    For runs over 50 linear feet I receive nothing less than $5.00 plus the add ons listed above.
    There is a difference between doing it cheaply and doing it correctly.
    Sell your professionalism properly and you shouldn't have a problem.
  4. ferris52

    ferris52 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    Hey there Agri-cut, I started on my own this year as well, here in Vancouver BC, I like you worked for others in the states maine/Houston/and landsdale outside of philly. well now I do it on my own and funny enough I am in the middle of a french drainage system for a lawn right now. I did under bid the job, and have run into some obsacles, I began when the weather was great then the rain+ snow came and my productivity went way down, the home owner decided to go with perf. pvc instead of the crappy black corrugated perf, thgen while digging the trench's we ran into an old cement pad/or driveway (slow going) digging was all by hand because of existing irrigation lines. so I guess what I am saying is do not under estimate the excavation portion of the job, who knows what is under the lawn, and how easy the digging is? Also here yards are hilly and tight to get into so access points for gravel, and debri removal are very important. If I could doit again I would rethink how I price the excavation portion, I hope some of this is helpfull. I am just about done maybe two more days then pay time.
  5. jimmyburg

    jimmyburg LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 701

    i charge $9 a foot for the the real french drain, not the soild, $75 per sidewalk and 150 for curb core.
  6. macrich

    macrich LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    $10 a foot
  7. w.a.reid

    w.a.reid LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    i often say "$25 per man per hour for the digging, installation and final touches. reimburse me for the materials....my price is your price....wholesale too."

    and that works for normal people - that does not include attorneys.

    however, if you have to ballpark a figure - do this math - - $15 per foot multiplied by your total length....take that number and multiply the average number of feet deep the drain is to be - i.e. if your doing a french drain behind a retaining wall that is as tall as 6 feet, but tapers down to two feet - lean towards 4 feet in rugged rocky or clay soils - maybe 3 feet if its nice backfilled topsoil or sand.


    100 foot retaining wall around a swimming pool - wall is 6 feet tall at highest point and one foot tall at lowest point - and of course a few feet on either end of the wall to get to the homes roof-gutter 4" drainage pipes - - rugged terrain with tree roots and clay.

    so the math is this

    100' x $15 = $1500
    $1500 x 4 (avg. foot depth) = $6000

    add at least $1000 if job is for an attorney - they will try and screw you out of some money anyway - so dont cut the bid too close.

    get $3000 upfront for the costs - BEFORE - your shovel hits the dirt - you do not want to start haggling at the end of the job with the entire project out of pocket.

    i pay my guys $10 per hour to $14 per hour

    the soil is too lousy to use anywhere once removed and needs to be hauled away.

    the materials i use are the :
    *4" perforated flexible drain pipe already in the sock
    *4" connectors for the pvc attachment
    *6-9 mil black plastic against the wall - all the way down past the footer and enough on the bottom of the trench to bowl or cup underneath the drainage tube
    *gorilla duct tape to seal plastic seams
    *1.5" RINSED limestone as the rock/gravel
    *landscape fabric against the soil - leave enough out to fold over the top of the gravel
    *triple-screened topsoil on top of the fabric - 1' to 6" deep - to allow sod or other plantings

    there are other fancier backings for the retaining wall - depending on how fancy you want to get - but the plastic works fine.

    my trenches are often 2' wide

    any groundwater that percs through the fabric is going to hit that big airy limestone and just drop - it should never ever even get close to the wall - once dropped it will build up until it finds the tube - the path of least resistance - where it will build up and find its way into the pvc pipe that carries it to an area of unconcern or the street or wherever you think best.



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