Sod Prep Pricing---Am I Way Off?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by trent515, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. trent515

    trent515 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Hey guys:
    Gave a guy an estimate today on sod prep for his backyard. Backyard is roughly 300 square yards (2700 sf), 1/2 has light grass cover, 1/2 is bare. My price was $400 just for tilling to 2-3 inches, adding 15 bags of topsoil to fill in high spots, and finish raking. Keep in mind this guy was a bit of a PITA and didn't want any large equipment, so it will be all smaller equipment (tiller etc.). Oh, and he had to ask if I was confident that I could do a good job...HA!!! He kind of thought my price was too high, but I got the job because all the other estimates (2) had been somewhat higher (he wouldn't say what). The way I had it roughly figured was materials cost at $15 for the topsoil, then the rest in labor and gasoline (I own the tiller I will be using). I am guesstimating the job to take me (alone) about 4-5 hours from start to finish. My question is, do I WANT this job for this price and with the noted equipment limitations?

    Your help is greatly appreciated!!
     
  2. chris638

    chris638 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 149

    I'm not a big fan of tilling soil before any kind of lawn installation. You risk too many lumpy areas and pulling up additional rocks. For sod installation, you need to spray the existing vegetation with round-up or similar product. Spread a thin layer of topsoil over the area, rake, and install the sod. Why didn't the guy want you to install the sod? I won't prep anything without completing it. Try not to buy bagged topsoil. You'll pay usually triple the cost rather than buying bulk.
     
  3. mverick

    mverick LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 307

    I'd still charge for tiller rental. Ya gotta get something back for your investment in the tiller.

    I bet the other price was around double yours. I'd look at running a sod cutter in thick area's and remove the old stuff. Rake and throw on some top soil. Use a power thatcher. But I wouldn't till it.
     
  4. trent515

    trent515 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Thanks for the help so far! I am not the biggest fan of tilling either, but this is what he wanted the price quote for, and like I said, I have the equipment to do so. As for why I didn't go with bulk topsoil, it's because he didn't want any big equipment and I don't want to have to push it by the barrowful from the truck to the backyard. After all of this, I am really rethinking the job. I quoted him $2000 to install the sod (2700 square feet) after he purchased it, which I have gotten that easily before on the other sod jobs I did. He said some company will do it for $2.50 A YARD!!! I guess I should ask myself, if they will install it that cheap, why won't they prep it cheap too!?!?
    I failed to mention in my first post that this was an over the phone "ballpark" estimate. I am going out Saturday to give a written estimate on the job, and after thinking about it, it will be considerably higher that what I originally ballparked. And mverick I have a feeling you are right about the pricing thing---$800 sounds a lot better given the job and the PITA this is developing to be..
     
  5. chris638

    chris638 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 149

    $2.50 a yd. just for the installation isn't that cheap if he is buying the sod. In our area, that price plus the sod is about the going rate. If he is buying the sod, then I believe your price is high. That's only 300 yds. of sod and you could easily install that by yourself in one day's time. So that's means you are charging $250.00 per hour for your labor. Which nobody can get. I'm not bashing you at all, but I want you to see it differently. If one guy can install 40 yds. an hour, that comes out to $100.00 per hour for one man at the $2.50 yd. price (Like I said, if that is just the labor.)
     
  6. trent515

    trent515 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    I should have clarified...that is $2.50 a yard installed and THEY are providing the sod
     
  7. chris638

    chris638 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 149

    Then yes that is very cheap.
     
  8. mverick

    mverick LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 307


    Gotta add in everything. If I stop my truck I want at least $40 to start. Then I start getting paid. They're paying for my truck, trailer, time, lunch, health care, equipment, and labor. I don't lowball anybody, I expect to cover my expenses and earn an honest living. Hard to compete with crews who are only paying illegal aliens. LOL
     
  9. britsteroni

    britsteroni LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 334

    Trent,
    Where in Springfield was this job?
     
  10. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,128

    I had a guy tell me the other day that he is getting a company around here to buy, prep and install sod for $3.50 per yard... and I thought that was incredibly low...
     

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