Getting an in.. with builders.

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by PerfiCut L&L, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. PerfiCut L&L

    PerfiCut L&L LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 458

    Any suggestions on getting in the door with builders? We want to expand out operation and I think the work alone, along with the visibility will help us tremendously.

    I was going to stop in at a couple of local general contracter/builders. Introduce our company, perhaps put together a small portfolio, and some sample pricing structures for various projects.

    Would you suggest this method or simply a letter? Obviously with a letter, I could make contact with a lot more builders.

    Anyone know how the large regional/national builders pick up contractors for there work? do they bid it out?
     
  2. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Posts: 601

    Getting in bed with a builder can be a really slippery slope. If you find a good, honest one it can be great, that said you'd have better luck finding an honest lawyer. My opinion, given the timing of your idea would be put your efforts into another direction, especially with housing the way it is, builders dont have alot going on now and those that do are generally looking to bring their homes to market on the cheap while preserving their profits, they arent throwing in bells and whistles like nice walks,patios and plantings to drive the price up. Real custom home builders are another story, they could be a sort of "niche". As far as the nationals, I've never tried to get in the door there, but having bid a few sub divisions against some of the locak big boys you'll never touch their pricing and keep your shirt, these guys have their own nurseries(which I hear they run in the red) and work on volume, happy to make 3-5 percent, where most of the rest of us cant take a job for that money. One last thing, builders are cheap and always want something for nothing..............
     
  3. Hardscaping

    Hardscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 359

    best way is in person with the builder! talk to them and see what it is they are looking for and make friends with the site supervisors they help out alot!
     
  4. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 616

    Builders, general contractors and lawyers are all one in the same IMO. Stay away from most of them. There are a few good, reputable ones, but dont tend to stay around long enough either, as they try to make do it legit, and cant. Your better off dealing with the prospective purchaser directly, leave a brocure or two at the sales office with an exclusive incentive if they buy a home from XYZ builder. That may entice the new homeowner enough.
     
  5. PSUturf

    PSUturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 663

    Hardscaping / landscaping are usually the last phase of home building. A builder will cut corners and pinch more pennies in that area than anywhere else to maximize profits. I would never work for a builder. I've heard too many stories about contractors not getting paid.
     
  6. ericmcj31

    ericmcj31 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 404

    Good luck-we work with a small network of builders who are (for the most part) GREAT to deal with. They are price-contious (to say the least) but have your price upfront and well contracted. I have heard horror stories of them never paying, don't want you making $$$, etc.-but haven't been stuck yet.
     
  7. PatriotLandscape

    PatriotLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MA
    Posts: 1,209

    builders suck to work for unless it is a high end home in which you will work for the architect or the home owner directly.
     
  8. JimmyStew

    JimmyStew LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 367

    In this part of the country, builders generally have nothing to do with the landscaping. They are sometimes expected to do a final site cleanup, for which, most call back the excavation contractor to spread topsoil and seed. The most you can expect here is a recommendation from the contractor to the homeowner. This system has been favorable for me in the past. I get quite a few referrals from contractors to do a myriad of landscaping work. The biggest problem we have, is the same as when the contractor is in charge of the landscaping...there's never enough money left in the budget once the house is built!
     
  9. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,649

    I work for 1 the guy who built my home but he does only 2 a year. I worked last year for 1 company who stamps out a lot of homes and cheap to work for. Installed new yard , they said rockhound yard and hydro-seed yard. They said we are bying no top soil use existing dirt. We raked 30 ton of rocks off and hauled away ( 15k sq' yard ) Smart ass project manager shows up and said cant you get it any better! I told him i could rake to gates of hell and stir up more rocks, he said i should of said something earlier they would of bought top soil. Same Jackass that said they wouldnt buy dirt. I seed yard and it grew, but imsure they told new h/o that the landscaper they used could of done better. I used to paint cars and working for used car dealers is about like working with builders. Beware and look else where for work.
    Mike
     
  10. mcclureandson

    mcclureandson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    Join you local home-building association - most have regular meetings and weekend functions. Scout neighborhoods in your demographic and make calls to the numbers on the builders signs. Learn to sell your services based on how much you can help the builder (if it's a spec house) or simply request to be put in touch with the new homeowner (if it's a custom). Once you develop a relationship with one or two builders it becomes easier - "Hey, I do all of so-and-so's work...do you know him?" We do landscape/irrigation installs on about one new house a week. Mostly 7-8k specs with a few larger customs thrown in that on occasion hit 30k. I've found good, honest builders tend to know one another and value their relationships with the subcontractors. Understand their draw/payment schedule. Most I work with pay only on completed work - invoice by Wednesday will get a check cut on Friday (sometimes they pay every other Friday). Last week invoiced 10k on a Tuesday to beat deadline, finished on Wednesday or Thursday and had check in the mailbox that Saturday. FYI - I don't have a large company. Three trucks/8 employees and less than 1mil in sales last year.
     

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