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Retaining Walls Pricing

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by drmiller100, May 22, 2005.

  1. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 562

    Our region is BOOMING. As such, the two landscaping companies that have existed for 20 years are overloaded, and already booked for the summer of 2006, let alone summer of 05.

    As such, it has left an opportunity for me and my company. We are mowing like crazy, and installing one or two sprinkler systems a week.

    By the end of July and into August however, sprinkler installs WILL dry up. I have had several requests for retaining walls. No one up here is doing them that I can find.

    I read the versa lock and allan block web sites, and it doesn't seem like rocket science. I have access to an excellent excavator and lazer levels, and a compactor seems pretty reasonable.

    How do I qualify customers though? Price. If a customer wants a 100 foot long by 3 foot tall retaining wall, how much will it cost them? I'm guessing I can't do it for 5000 bucks. Is 10,000 reasonable? 15,000 bucks? I realize I'll lose money on the first one, and that's ok. I'm willing to spend the time to do it right, and I even can do it, tear it down, and rebuild it if need be.

    Also, is the stuff at Home Depot Allan Block?

    Based on what I have read, it sure seems pretty simple. Hire an engineer to identify surprises, build a GREAT base, compact the hell out of it, and start stacking rocks and packing gravel. When done, backfill the rest of it.

    I have a skid steer. Thanks in advance,
  2. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,369

    How do you supposedly install two sprinklers systems a week without knowing your costs? I hear they have cell phones in idaho.....pick it up and ring your local distributor......
  3. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 562

    here in idaho, we also have something called the INTERNET. sometimes you can find other people willing to help.

    a distributor is more then likely to underestimate other costs so i get the bid and buy more expensive rocks. i'd like some advice on how to bid a retaining wall.
  4. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Posts: 1,579

    IMO ... you should have a rate for base course ...another for the other courses and finally your coping. Base course probably takes 50% of your time (in general )... a 100' wall one course high will take you much longer than a 25'-4 course high.
  5. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    This the hard part.I too have started doing walls and paver walks and will soon be going too certification classes too help on the technical issues.
    I spent some time with my salesman from my block company that I used and it helped me with pricing in my area.
    The first run is the hard too price one and also the wall height.The height will deal with having too have it engineered.Most blocks have a rating of how high you can go without reinforcment.

    Assuming it was on level ground and normal excavation and using a block that is around 3 to 4 dollars apeice and with each block covering around .66 to .7 FF per block which is the medium size block I use I would charge a starting price of around 8000 dollars.The blocks with caps would be around 2000 dollars my cost and depending on your winter tempatures you will need at least 2.5 yards of base and at least a yard of aggregate .
    Drain lines in back and water issues will also add too the cost.
    I would say I would have no more than 2500 dollars in materials.This is assuming a standard wall block nothing Fancy.With 3 guys the base run would need to be excavated ,and laid the first day.The wall should be completed ,backfilled and finished by the third day.
    I figure the first run at 30 dollars a linear foot and the rest of the wall at 20 dollars a FF.This will put you at a reasonable profit margin.This is a little high for my area ,but you need too be covered on your first wall.It will probally take you a week too do it till you get the hang of it.
    You will have too come up with a way of estimating that will allow you too make the correct profit too support your buisness.
    We have alot of hard clay here and it makes excavating tough.
  6. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 562

    wow! thank you guys!

    I had thought about the bottom layer being the toughest, but didn't realize it would be half the work. When you say it that way, it sure makes sense though! It seems like if you don't spend time making it level, and packed down in, life will suck as you go up on the wall.

    so this particular wall is along a lake. the water level will drop, but there is some question as to whether they will let equipment down into the lake even at low water. so, excavation would have to be from above on the hill. Plus, to get my skid steer to it, i'm going to have to tear up some lawn, which means some sod. All adding up to more money.

    If he wants two 50 foot long walls rather then a 100 foot wall, is there any real difference?
    Thanks again!
  7. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    Not really sure aboutwalls that come in contact with water as far as the base course.The easiest way to do the base row is with a Mini excavator.That way you disturb less soil.Then hand shovel for a final grade.
  8. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,284

    Is this water going to rise above the bottom course of this wall?
  9. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 562

    weird deal, but water won't even reach the bottom of the wall. Water will be about 2 feet, vertical, from the bottom of the wall.
  10. jreiff

    jreiff LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Posts: 402

    Would not hurt to get an engineer involved, just in case. Better to be safe then sorry. Engineer will help you, pretty much tell you how the wall should be built.

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