tackling a big job?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by fga, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. fga

    fga LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,449

    how do you go about an estimate for job that is really involved.what i mean by that is a job that has sevral types of work being done. like planting, hardscapes, irrigation, low voltage lighting... do you itemize the entire job in phases? or just one lump job costs.
  2. lawnboy30

    lawnboy30 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 92

    Be very careful. In the beginning I fell into a problem quoting a hardscape project, seeding, rock wall and pavers. In the end I was OK but there was a time when I started thinking I am losing big. I would say that for any materials take the cost and mutiply it by 1.5. Charge $45 per man per hour and try to best judge how long it will take. My opinion it is tough selling just man hours. People seem to think that you will take advantage. Plus if you roll it all into one proposal and you get it done under the alotted time in your quote they won't know.

    Hope this makes sense.
  3. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    For the bigger jobs, we've been estimating them by the appropriate phases.

    The wall removal and re-build we just got started on will have several phases. For each phase, materials, labor and equipment was estimated. IIRC, there were about 10 phases:
    Existing landscape removal
    Existing patio removal
    Existing wall and backfill removal
    Excavation and dozing
    Wall construction
    Step construction
    Paver patios and walkways
    Accessable ramp installation (decided not to do this)
    Landscape plantings
    And apparently one I can't remember:)

    Breaking it out this way made it easy to tell how much money certain things were going to take, which made it easier to cut things if needed.

    The tricky part was the fact that this would be an extended project (~2 months) and we would need rental equipment for that entire time. That made it hard to allot a certain dollar amount to any given activity...

    We are doing this on a T&M basis, but still came up with a "good faith" estimate for them beforehand....


  4. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Posts: 2,702


    I usually break out a large install into separate pieces too. In your example, I'd provide a price for each of the items mentioned. I think it makes it easier for you to break down into separate tasks and calc costs, and easier for the customer to understand as well.
  5. NNJLandman

    NNJLandman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,306

    Figure out everything and keep it in separate pieces like topsoil $2500 landscape $4500 wall1 $3400 wall 2 $2400 paver walkway $5000, but do this only for yourself and keep it well listed out and double check it. Then when its time to give your proposal to the customer give them one price for everything for example. The price of this job includes, topsoiling the left and right side of the house, landscaping the front of the house etc, installing a x by x wall front the driveway to the woodline, another wall from the mailbox to the woodline, a paverwalkway from the porch to the driveway. The price includes all labor and materials needed. Price: $$$$. At least thats how i like to do it that way if they say well what if we just want this this and this ok lemme refigure this for you go back to my outlined project prices and give them another price. I just don't like to give them everything too outlined because thats when they start nit picking and trying to figure out what your getting for everything.

  6. bottlefed89

    bottlefed89 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 243

    I pretty well break it into sections like dan did. I include with the estimate, this breakdown. I want them to see where I am getting the figures, but I never write anything like x-manhours, or labor rates. I word it like "install retaining wall 1" $xxxx. "Install pavers", etc... I've found that people always have something to say when included in their bill is something that says labor @ $60.00/hr. or whatever you may charge, They'll think it's too much. As long as you're clear on what's what and it makes sense to both of you you should do alright.
    DFelix, how is that big job going??
  7. fga

    fga LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,449

    my biggest problem i've come across on those more involved job is getting the approval on certain items. for example, i told you i picked up a maple and a pom pom juniper not long ago, it took this couple 3 weeks to just get to the nursery with me to pick them out, and they live 2 minutes from the nursery. now there's a small section of hardscape going in, i need to go to another nursery to look at the stone with them... and there's the lights i get at Lowes, nice selection. who knows when they will get there to pick the style they want?? I can usaully go with my own choices, but not in this case with these people. now i have exspensive trees in my backyard sitting there, and they're ASKING ME when i think i'm going to do the job? i just don't do enough hardscapes to have samples available, atleast not enough to offer an abundance of choices. so i'd like to maybe put the trees in the ground.. burm it up before hand so the hardscapes can go in right after :angry: (usaully do that first. then the lights would be last... a one, 2 day job turns into a circus. wind up doing it as 3 jobs instead of one.
    but atleast i can get started.
  8. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    For lighting, we use a commercial supplier, i.e., not Lowe's!

    We have brochures that show what each fixture looks like, and "paint chips", if you will, of the different colors and finishes. I believe we have these for both Kichler and Vista.

    When it comes to stone, again, we use a wholesaler, not a nursery. They are usually more than happy to give us a (small) piece or two so we can show potential clients what the stone looks like. If we think a particular stone (or stones) would look right somwhere, we take along the samples, rather than dragging the clients along for an hour+ ride to the wholesaler.:) For stone, pictures can show a lot too.

    Now, pavers and walls may be a different story. For larger walls, send them to supplier, they usually have displays set up. A lot of pavers and walls are more of a blend that would be hard to show accurately with pictures or a few samples.

    bottlefed- We got started on the job this last week. All of the decorative gravel is up (about 1 1/2 days on Monday and Wednesday), dug the trees on Thursday, took up the paver walkway on Thursday, and yesterday we started taking down one of the walls. I've dug out probably over 20 tons of gravel backfill to this point, and have one of the walls about 1/2 down. The excavator and thumb worked well.:) I think we took out 6 pallets full of block, 27/pallet, in about 1 1/2 hours yesterday! Me running the mini-ex, my boss moving them around on the pallet. Started wondering yesterday if I needed to demand hazard pay while we were moving the trees around.... My boss was running the T300......:dizzy:

  9. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Go to your whsl. and get samples of what he carries or you think you might be using, I had to do this before now each winter I get a new price guide and samples that all fit into a couple of 3 ring note books. Everything I would need for a job is in the books. Once you have come to an agreement with your customer then if they want to see more than just a small piece of the paver then I pick up 1-2 to show them, but at this point I'm gonna have some cash in my pocket for all the time I'm spending. Also they need to tell me how much they have budgeted for a prodject, not going to show them a $20 retainer block if they only have the money for a $5 one.


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