pavers, patios, retaining walls.

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by kandalawncaremgr, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. kandalawncaremgr

    kandalawncaremgr LawnSite Member
    Posts: 223

    I had a ton of calls last year for paver work. Patios, sidewalks, and walls and I didn't advertise for it let alone know how to do it. I've referred a lot of business to the guy in the next town who probably bought his two ztr and new dump with the business I gave him lol. Anyways over the winter I picked up reading materials and researched how to do this but I know the real art isn't in the books. I wanna try to do some small jobs like sidewalks and little patios. At the local big box store they have a design center that I can use for free and it tells me all the materials I will need and give me a price. Now here's what I have questions on. Mark up, how much is usual mark up on store bought things, I know with mulch and bushes they give us wholesale at the local landscape supply. Some say 15% some say double the mark up. Im already know my delivery rate and my install labor rate. I know every area is different so its up to me to decide my final descion on my price. Just trying to figure it out. Any help would be appericated. Also is there anyway to get a round about time frame for certain projects.
  2. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Get your feet wet doing some jobs for friends family and maybe help with an experienced installer before jumping in on doing work for real paying customers. Last thing you want is a bad name for yourself. Reading helps but the only way to learn and get good at it is to do it, if you start off with a real customer I would at least be up front with them that its your first crack at doing this work. Best bet is to talk to the contractor you refer work to and tell him you will keep throwing work at him if you can come help with the install.
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  3. kandalawncaremgr

    kandalawncaremgr LawnSite Member
    Posts: 223

    That's exactly what I had planned to do. I have a 11x3 area at my house I wanna do and my friend wants to do a lil patio. I'm going to contact a company to see if I can do a ride along sort of thing. I don't plan on advertising it this year as I don't feel comfortable and like you said don't wanna give myself a bad name. Thanks for the response.
  4. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,284

    I'll reinforce the do a job for family first. I did my first large project at my brothers last summer. Just turned out ok. LOTS to learn about doing these types of projects to make sure they turn out nice. But by doing that project I learned a lot and feel a little more confident in the next opportunity. But I definitely bit off a little more that I could chew. First install was patio with walkway and stairs. :dizzy::hammerhead: Time was my true enemy which took away from the project. Know what you are getting into and my next project will be a small one such as a walkway or small patio. My only bit of advice (if I can even give it) make sure the base is done absolutely correct. Any imperfections will rear their ugly head in the end. I don't have the direct link but if you search me you can find that thread about the project....
  5. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Its rewarding work, theres good money to made when its done efficiently and correctly. A lot of time will be spent learning as you go, dont expect to make anything on the first few but you will gain knowledge and knowledge is power and power = money.
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  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,417

    I have to disagree with promower.

    Building patios, walls, and walks is a living, and most likely you will not get rich. At one time, yes, it did make me rich. But the competition has grown by I'm guessing 900%. Thus proifit margins have diminished.

    Most importantly you need a passion for the work. NOTE: there is a profound difference between "PASSION" vs "INTEREST".

    Also, if you really wanna make it you need a very very very strong background and knowledge in business. It's all about numbers and managing the numbers. Like I said, hardscaping is competitive. You need to have a very sharp pencil, you need to be able to price work reasonably, do the job, and make the profit you were originally hoping for. Easier said than done. You will also need to know how to sell yourself. An example: many contractors swear showing up for an initial appointment with a prospective client wearing a nice dress shirt, driving a clean truck/car, etc. Well, I can show up wearing my worn out jeans, old shoes, and a dirty truck.....and I DO SELL WORK!! See, this is because I know how to talk to prospective customers, I know how to do a presentation, and I know how to look them in the eyes and smile. Everything I just wrote in this paragragh is a trait. And these traits derive from passion.

    As far as mark up as you touched on in your initial post - I do NOT mark up hardscape materials. We are not in the retail biz, we are in the contracting biz. The only thing I mark up is plant material that I warranty. We make our money off of labor, we sell labor, that's the business we're in. This does not mean my prices are dirt cheap, infact my prices are typically 10 to 20 percent higher than other contractors in my area.

    Most hardscape guys only last 3 to 5 years. They think using polysand is do or die, cause they weren't around 16 years ago when polysand was virtyally unheard of! They think using rusty spikes to retain edge restraint is a MUST, because they read it somewhere and haven't been around long enough to have experienced repairing patios and walks were galvanized spikes have been used. In the 17 yrs I've been in the hardscape contracting biz - I've never seen a galvanized spike come up through the ground. The reason why most only last 3-5 years is because they come to realize there are easier ways to make a living and to make more money.

    Good luck to ya!
  7. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,770

    Preach it dvs. People see the big price tag of a patio and think i made that much. Theres money in everything, thats why everyone has a job. If i started doing everything that i thought would make money, i would start a new biz every day and be living on the street by the end of the week. I'm a firm believer in do what you're good at, and do a lot of it. Oh, and price it right.
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  8. kandalawncaremgr

    kandalawncaremgr LawnSite Member
    Posts: 223

    Thanks everyone for the informative posts. That's why I like lawnsite
  9. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,635

    Most of my success is related to personality and honesty. Having this has helped me build my business to the point its at today. I also worked for another company for 3 yrs before heading off feet first in a business I knew very little about. Good luck.
    Oh and listen to the old guys like DVS, he knows what he's talkin about:)
  10. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    I agree and disagree with DVS, hardscaping alone wont make you rich but its also a great add on to a landscape buisness and there is good money in it. With that being said you def need to know your numbers one screw up can eat all your profit or worse yet suffer a loss.
    I have a passion for hardscaping but it only accounts for a third of my profit for the year, planting and lighting nets the highest profit for my company. Every job we design for a prospective client we really push planting and and lighting. For us to survive and make a decent living in the hardscape business upselling these additional services are a must.
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