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Retaining Wall prices

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by AdamChrap, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. AdamChrap

    AdamChrap LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 937

    I have been in the lawn care biz for 10 years now. It is a family operation and I am taking over. I want to get more in to landscaping and hardscaping. I have helped build some small walls before and we did a nice size one at my house but nothing for a customer.

    My question is, how do you work up your price for retaining Walls? do you go by the hour? materials time 2 or 3? How long does a standard retaining wall take? Do you figure it by the square foot? I have to bed one here in the next few days, any help would be appreciated.

    Thank You
  2. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    I price per block & that figure is derived from what I need to make to cover all business related costs and still put food on the table. We figure how many sq ' we can lay per hour and break that down into a cost per block ratio. Took good record keeping to use this as our guidline and of course there are nearly always variables. One quote in a post I read here refered to the W.A.G. method and yet another refered to the S.W.A.G. method. When all other methods have not given you a sound answer.
  3. Here's something I found on another site...


    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,426

    First of all, understand that when you want to enter into retaining wall installations, you are entering into the highest risk aspect of the landscape industry. Most walls we deal with are not actually considered landscape work, rather, site work, or engineering work.

    That said, and don't take this wrong, if you are asking anyone how to price the walls, there is a strong chance you don't have the knowledge ti properly install walls. Many think all you do is level off some base, throw in a toe course, and stack the wall. you could not be more far from the reality of it all.

    In retaining wall work, there are many other factors than the installation to cost in. First, the soil work. You need a good geo technical firm to do comprehensive soils analysis so that data can be given to the civl engineer and they can design the wall.

    The average wall we install has $6,000.00 in soils analysis, and about the same in civil engineering. Then there is the grading involved with the wall. Are you going to make your own cuts to install the wall? And if so, how much dirt do you need to move. Is there enough cohesion in the soils you have to be able to use them as back fill for the wall you are building, or will you be required to import soils?

    Then there is the actual wall material cost, gravel drain fill, drain pipe, fabric, strata grid, yada yada....

    Start adding costs up and the more wall face you do, the less the cost per SF will run you/your client. No matter weather you have a small amount of face feet, or a large amount, the process is still the same, assuming the wall is tall enough to require a permit.

    We have walls with over 100,000 face feet that run into the $20.00 per sf cost, and we have wall with less than 1,000 face feet with $60.00 per square foot costs.

    Since you are in the lawn care business now, make sure your insurance policy does not have any exclusions for retaining walls. If it does, ask specifics as to how high, surcharge or not, etc etc.

    In our area for example, they examined our general liability, looed at the percentage of walls we do in relaton to other work, and increased our rate from the $10,000 a year we were paying to near $50,000. And that was the lowest quotes we got.

    I'm just preparing you for the venue you are about to encroach upon. If you care to go further, find where the nearest NCMA training class is being held and sign up and go. After seeing how the walls go together, it will better help you in finding what prices you have to charge.
  5. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 837

    On commercial walls we run price per block plus site preparation costs. On smaller jobs I just run materials plus labour plus site prep. I will never ever lower or cut costs on walls as you can lose big time on walls. Better off to let somebody else get burnt than drop your prices. Small walls can be just as expensive as bigger jobs in some cases and experience is needed to quote these jobs. If you do not have a lot of time on walls go work as a labourer for somebody who does, you can learn a lot in a short time.

    Organisation is a key factor with walls, and organising stone, machines, materials etc can take time. You must cost this into the job or its not worth it..believe me.

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