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Quality Check and Other Questions

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Babbages01, May 20, 2013.

  1. Babbages01

    Babbages01 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 58

    Sorry if this gets long...First off, been browsing the hardscape forums for a long time, but never done any real work other than at the house or for family. We usually just do lawn maintenance, so please be kind.

    Recently I've done two projects at my dad's house, free labor of course. One was about a 60 foot long by 3 brick high retaining wall around the pool to fix the soil falling away from the pool, it came out very nice, level front to back and all the way along the wall perfectly level with the pool.

    This is my next project that I completed today to replace a poorly placed and built stone ring. This tree ring is 40" in a circle from the tree. Level throughout of course, hard clay as the base and being such a short wall I don't think it will be settling anyways. Still need to cut the last brick on the back wall where that gap is and fill with dirt.

    The questions are, from a professional's point of view, how does it look, and about how much would be charged for labor on this? I can price a yard pretty good, but this one is new to me.

    Before anyone says it, he bought the bricks at Home Depot...(sorry guys). My mowing partner's family runs a stone and masonry supply business, so any other contracted projects would be through them.

    Two tree rings were built with these materials.

    Bricks used: 112 @ $2.70 = $302.40
    Dirt, landscape felt, etc should be roughly $50
    Appx 6 hours to complete both.

    Total Cost (minus sales tax at HD) $352.90

    With no real overhead of heavy machinery or rental equipment this is pretty much for labor alone. Are there any "standard rates" to simple jobs like this?

    tree ring_edit.jpg
  2. Paul's Green Thumb

    Paul's Green Thumb LawnSite Member
    Posts: 130

    Looks good! Subscribing for the responses...
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Babbages01

    Babbages01 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 58


    There's only so much you can do with these type of blocks. I feel like it could have been done better, but I don't really see how I could improve it being such a simple project.

    Anyone else?

    I was thinking I could charge $300 labor, makes it $50 an hour...
  4. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,770

    you could prob get away with 50 and feel good. I would be around 100
  5. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 466

    It's really an impossible question to answer. Nobody here knows what your bills are and what you need to make in order to not only compete, but to survive. Im not knocking and you and I appreciate the fact that you have your hat in hand and are just asking for advice, but the best advice I can give you is the term "labor" is really more effectively translated as time. You aren't charging for labor, anyone can hire a laborer for 15 bucks an hour. You are charging for knowledge and overhead. There isn't a professional company out there that can say "there is really no overhead on this job because there isn't machinery". That would include yourself. Overhead is the 100's of things you pay for a month in order to be a business (business insurance, vehicle insurance, health insurance, office cost, workmans comp, business licenses, truck gas, truck tires, truck maintenance, tools, tool maintenance, cell phone, work dedicated phone, internet... Seriously, this list could go on for a while)...

    The point is, you get a general idea of your business operating budget each month (ballpark) and then you break that down into workable days in a calendar month, then break that down into hours and you have what it effectively costs you to stay in operation. The bottom line is, even with all those numbers crunched there are no guarantees how many billable hours you will accumulate in a week. It's far less complicated than it sounds to do all this math, it would probably take about an hour to get a good ballpark figure. The problem is it's intimidating because the reality of the situation shows itself. $50 an hour sounds good from a distance, but it's peanuts. Im a small operation and even when I was a one man operation I would have been broke on $50.00 an hour. It simply doesn't offset the bills in most cases and it requires that you are billing 8 good hours a day, 5 days a week, every week of the year. In most cases, simply not going to happen.
  6. Babbages01

    Babbages01 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 58

    Ok. I didn't realize that labor for hardscaping cost that much. I also realize that you have the heavy equipment and probably employees, etc so I can imagine your overhead is also much higher.

    A professional that has been doing this for years could probably get the job done in a quarter of the time I did, so there's no reason that I should be charging hourly for my inexperience. That wouldn't be fair to the homeowner.
  7. Babbages01

    Babbages01 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 58

    Thanks Greenlight, must have missed your post last night.

    You have excellent points regarding overhead. And you've put a new meaning in my head for the term labor...now that I think of it, it seems to be a term that isn't best suited for this industry.

    I of course have some of the overhead items that you listed, but we include that into our lawncare pricing. This might be more of a side adventure for the company when the grass stops growing then those figures will have to be added in. At the same time though, I've seen some awesome work pics on here from everyone...I think tree rings and little afternoon jobs like that are about my max that I'd be comfortable doing at this point.
  8. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,635

    Go back and look at that ring around the tree in 10 yrs. Get back to me then and tell me what you see.

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