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Roto Tilling Estimate

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Wreak, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Wreak

    Wreak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    I'm new to doing any type of landscaping and have never roto tilled before but my partner has a lot more experience in landscaping.

    We have a regular customer that we mow each week (front yard only) and the backyard is mostly weeds and debris and a little bit of grass that hasn't been mowed in months. One day while mowing the lady asked us to give her an estimate on how much it would cost to roto till the back yard so she could plant grass seed. Being new to the tilling scene we had no clue what to charge but estimated it would take close to 2 full days of work between the both of us. So we quoted her $1000 and she said, "that's not bad at all, when can you start". We told her in 2 weeks.

    Well, today was the day, I borrowed a commercial rear tine self propelled tiller from my inlaws (we included the rental of the equipment). We started removing debris, mowed everything down to nearly nothing, and poked around for tree stumps (found 1 that was very brittle), roots, etc. We encounterd about 20 to 30 Yellow Jackets so I had to run up to Home Depot and get some cans of hornet spray in hope of finding the hive but we never did. So the entire time we were watching each other's backs so that hindered our progress quite a bit. Another unexpected thing was that we found around 27 different sized round stepping stones about 4 inches deep while tilling and also found a full layer of black plastic around 2 inches deep. Also there were small round landscaping rocks all over the place and the tiller didn't like those that much either. LOL

    Suprisingly enough we got done in about 7 hours even though we stopped to fight off Yellow Jackets and had to pick up all of those stepping stones (the customer said that her husband put them out there 17 years ago and she forgot all about them).

    We walked out of there paid in full.

    I was wondering what you guys would do if you over estimated the time but when you did the job you got done early but also encounted a lot of things you could never know about until you started?

    I'll try to attach a pic...this pick shows just one section of the back yard, not that big but there are 3 sections about the same size if not a little bigger.

    till back left.jpg
  2. Wreak

    Wreak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    I forgot to mention, neither one of us have ever roto tilled. When I hit my first hidden step stone that thing jumped about 3 feet forward and about yanked me to my knees. hahah
  3. Green Care

    Green Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 530

    Now you can give her a discount on the mowing.

    Ya think if ya had 2tillers you would have finished in 3hours.
  4. Wreak

    Wreak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    Ya, I was sorta feeling guilty for a few hours but then after thinking about all the obsticles we ran in to and calculated how much it came out to per hour, it made me feel better.

    I was actually thinking about giving her 2 months free. She only pays for "front only" mowing at $40 per month...she wouldn't allow us to go in to the back yard at all and then paid some guy $500 to remove about a 5x8 trailer full of debris about 2 months ago. He forgot an entire cactus trunk that was about 24 inches around and heavy as hell so we cut it up and removed it. We tried to talk her in to either letting us put a few yards of dirt over the top or having us sod it....she said she is going to plant grass seed. We told her to let the ground settle a little while first.
  5. Wreak

    Wreak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    Not sure if you can see the tiller but it's an old school Troy Bilt 5hp Rear Tine Pony model. My inlawns used it up on their farm in Indiana. It worked great.

    rob\'s rig.jpg
  6. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,275

    It sounds like you guys made out pretty nicely. Sounds like an adventure as well. I don't think you overcharged her by that much, maybe a little. She sounds like she is just pretty happy to have it done and over with. I would just take the extra money and be happy with it. You will get screwed by someone else eventually. Just keep her in mind, when you feel like doing something nice for someone.
  7. meathead1134

    meathead1134 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 637

    great job, I would give her a little discount , 2 months sounds a little steep IMO. I would say no more than a month
  8. Wreak

    Wreak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    Thanks for the input...a month sounds good to me too.

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