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*** handed to me..

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Yardchitech, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. FLCthes4:11-12

    FLCthes4:11-12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    Trying new stuff isn't a bad thing. But I think a background in construction better helps one venture into hard scapes than does experience in lawn or light landscaping
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. landplan

    landplan LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 24

    300 a day for a skid steer rental seems high to me and I'm in Indiana also. Though I haven't rented one recently I think the wheeled ones will rent for less that 200 a day and the minis for around 150. You can also do 4 hour rentals for less. When doing hardscapes, I've found it cheaper and more convenient to have all the materials delivered and placed where and when I need them. Typically, after the initial excavation and movement of base material, the skidsteers not needed till final cleanup and maybe not again, depending of the project.
  3. CNYScapes

    CNYScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 916

    If it makes you feel any better, in my first couple years doing walls I did not put in any drainage behind them. I ended up going back over the next few years fixing them and adding drainage FOR FREE because I run a reputable business and care about my reputation. I only did the ones that called because the walls were separating.

    I considered it the cost of doing business. Live and learn.
  4. landplan

    landplan LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 24

    As with lawn installs or anything else, I wouldn't use a one size fits all install figure, as there are way too many variables to consider. The shape and detail of the patio being an important one as well as ease of access. You can easily have a whole day wrapped up in cutting alone, or little to none. Consider partnering with someone who has the equipment it may be cheaper than renting and running around getting it to the job and back in time. The only thing I currently rent is a plate compacter and that's always a pain to waste time running back and forth with it.
  5. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,647

    Last year I did a 400 square foot patio with a fire pit and about 20 feet of seating walls and 4 pillars for $24 a square foot. I'd say 7k was cheap.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,670

    500 sq ft is kinda small… it's easy for "the big guys" to just bang out that kind of patio…Ive seen it done in half a day, like they were installing a prefab hot tub.

    as for renting charges… yes you charge for that.

    I have four bobcats… so I usually don't rent, but ALL by bids go out as if I do.
    I basically rent my own equipment.
    Here's why…the rental yards have all figured out the cost to run a machine and let it go out of their sight and come back, what the upkeep, repairs and cost of ownership is.
    Why reinvent the wheel.
    If I own a skid steer, but United Rentals charges $330/day to rent it out? so do it.
    If i sell more work than machines I have to put out there, I rent…in which case I break even on the machine….
    If I take good care of the machines I own… I make a little money on my machines by 'renting them to my jobs'
    If I have wiggle room in my bids… I usually get 5-10% off of subs/rental/equipment category… in that case even if I do rent it from united…I still make 5-10% off the machine rental.

    here's another indicator….are you swamped with work? if you were really too cheap, you'd have tons of work and be on here asking people why you aren't making any money… don't worry about leaving money on the table right now. Establish a presence, gain a rep for great work and grow slow.
    Eventually you will be requested and in some cases demanded… then you can demand virtually any reasonable price you want.

    Quality Hardscape isn't like fertilizer or lawn mowing…people know what they want, and they are willing to pay for it, and dudes can't just buy a shovel and go compete with you…it's a craft some people just don't have a knack for.
  7. FLCthes4:11-12

    FLCthes4:11-12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    Great post!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,417

    Not so sure the Topic creator is still in da house.

    He said he only does 3 jobs a year.

    Kinda hard to become well acquainted with streamlining things with only 3 jobs per year.

    Best thing to do would be to click on my profile and run a search on my user name. You'll find about about a decade of posts and threads about starting up. I get down to the nittty gritty where I actually make you think about if this is really for you or not.

    It easy to tell people "hey do this", and "hey stop doing that". What they really need is "hey, lets talk about some things, and see if this is for you or not".
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841


    To answer your questions: No, pros don't charge "by the square foot" for labor. It's generally considered unprofessional. Every job is different. Access to every job is different. Some materials go together quicker than others. Bidding anything "by the sq. ft." is just a bad practice to get into. Instead of bidding accurately, you're just guessing. Sometimes you'll be over-estimating. Sometimes you'll be under-estimating. But you'll rarely be right on. So you're setting yourself up to either be losing your ass on the job or pricing too high. Not good.

    With anything you do, you should be basing your total price on cost of materials+markup+labor+overhead. Or if your labor rate encompasses your overhead then just materials+markup+labor. The tricky part is knowing your labor times before you begin the job. Knowing your "production times", as it's known. If you don't know your production times then you're always going to have problems, no matter what kind of landscaping or hardscaping you're doing. Your bids will be all over the map, you'll win some and you'll lose some and it won't be a constantly profitable endeavor for you.

    There are really only two ways to get to know your production times, IMO. And one of them isn't asking people on Lawnsite. Their prroduction times, rates, etc. don't relate to you at all. They're in different economic environments, have a different kind of clientele than you do, have more demand for their services than you do, maybe more overhead, etc. So comparing yourself to others here or really anywhere is just a bad idea.

    The first thing you should do when you think of a job is you need to sit down and carefully think out each step of the job and think in your head how long that step will take. You'll be thinking stuff like, "Ok. First day I'll have to go pick up the skid steer. That will take 2 hours to pick that up and get it to the home. Then I'll have to take down that fence to get access to the back yard. That will take me and Brody 30 minutes to do that and set down some protective matting over the yard where the skid will be running over. Then we can start excavation. With me on the skid and him digging the corners that should take about 6 hours. So that's pretty much the first day. Next day we'll start with......"

    Second thing you should be doing is considering how long the job will take based on previous jobs you've done. And eventually you want to stop thinking by hours. Start thinking how long a job will take in days. Consider a similar job you've done before with similar access and similar materials. That information will help you compare production times with that job on this one.

    The only thing that makes this process get better is experience. There aren't really any short cuts. If you think you're going to short cut this process by going on Lawnsite and asking a few dudes in other parts of the nation, I'm sorry. This isn't one of the things you can short cut that way. There are plenty of other things you can learn from Lawnsite. But IMO, your production times and what you should charge isn't one of them. You need to learn that on your own.
  10. BMB Hardscape

    BMB Hardscape LawnSite Member
    Posts: 39

    Excellent posts by Tpendagast and JimLewis, whether it helped the topic creator or not I don't know, but it definitely helped me out.
    I used to strictly charge by the foot, JimLewis is spot on with what he said about some times you win and sometimes you lose doing it that way. I changed the way I did estimated jobs half way through last summer because of that reason. Now I put a lot more time and thought into looking at jobs and estimating them.
    Before I would just tell them our labor was between $8-$10 per square foot. Which on some jobs we made out great, it was overpriced....but on more than a few jobs I didn't do so well. So I learned.
    This year I intend to keep better records on production times, material tracking and keeping track of my overhead costs.

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