Hardscaping as a Business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Mindless, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. Mindless

    Mindless LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    In the next 18-36 months I plan on a career change from what I do now (indoors behind a desk manning a computer). I've been giving some serious consideration to starting a solo hardscaping business. Focused only on residential walkway and patio installations using pavers from two maybe three manufacturers.

    Can a solo hardscaping business operate profitably and remain solvent with the proper resources only working from Mar to Nov? Area is Northern Va, home values $400K on up, and no end in site for new home construction. I use profitability loosely because that hinges on sales.

    Your thoughts/questions. Thanks.
    v/r,
    Terry
     
  2. Clear View Landscapes

    Clear View Landscapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    Do you have any experience or formal training in that area? When you say "solo", do you mean a sole proprietorship? Or do you mean you will be working by yourself? I would advise instance number one. Also, what type of risk would you be willing to take? To be considered a professional by your possible customers and also by your peers, you will need at least a few large pieces of equipment.
     
  3. Mindless

    Mindless LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    Clear View Landscapes,

    I have no experience with this type of work. Now is that a weakness for me, definitely...however, my strategy to confront this is through training (formal and hands-on). I've taken the first step by registering for a hardscape seminar in March from EP Henry. I'd also be interested in any other training courses available to me. Hands-on experience as a laborer on installation jobs. Would it make sense to offer myself as free labor to an already established hardscaping business? I learn the trade but at the same time not on a payroll? I'd be able to work for a week at a shot every 50 or so days.

    Also, from a marketing standpoint, my first solo (and when I speak solo that is just me doing the work) install would be my residence...a walkway from driveway to frontdoor, patio and retaining wall. This and any training I would receive can be the starting point in building customer confindence in my abilities as a business owner/operator.

    As far as risk, I think at this point I would require a well developed business plan in order to highlight strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and key challenges. If you could be more specific with regard to risk I'd be happy to respond. Business plan is in work.

    Concur with professionalism...in my opinion it starts with initial meet with customer to operating the right equipment and completing the job in a timely manner. That is why I bound my expectations of work scope to residential walkways and patios as a starting point. Also, I believe professionalism is reflected in the quality of finished product which no doubt leads to customer referals. I see install crews doing this type of work without the efficiency of benefiting from using the proper equipment i.e, using shovels vice skid steer/tractor is an example.

    Can this type of work be profitable working by myself?
     
  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    sounds like you have it planned out pretty well.
    i would STRONGLY recomend lining up at least a part time helper.
    hardscapes is VERY labor intensive, and you will need help with things like loading and unloading the plate tamp, shooting grades, screeding, etc.
    one person CAN do it, but two is much more efficent for many parts of the job.

    also, you should also incorperate SRW's ( segmented retaining walls) in your business. they are made by the same manufacturers, and are a natural compliment to the paver work.


    also i would spend a month or so working (for money) with another contractor, before making the plunge. I would think another contractor would be leary of taking you up on your free labor offer. I would not want to train my competition.

    if you are able take a leave of absence from your currrent job, and try it out. This is VERY physical work, and it will be a BIG CHANGE from a desk job. make sure you can do it day in and day out before making a no going back leap..
     
  5. bigviclbi

    bigviclbi LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Posts: 894

    i would definately work for someone else first. Even if its only weekends, if only for a few months. It will be SOOO much easier to learn from someone else. Saying that, I actually went to the seminar and started doing small jobs myself without ever working for someone else but I still can't work as efficiently as others in the industry.
     
  6. Clear View Landscapes

    Clear View Landscapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    I would invest in some type of landscape design class (whether at a university or some type of internet continuing ed.), there are certain rules and restriction you really need to abide by such as slope gradients, step measurements (riser/tread). My college education has proven to be invaluable to me for these odds and ends type of information.

    Craig
    Clear View Landscapes
     

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