1st small retaining wall solo - estimate help requested

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by coinster73, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. coinster73

    coinster73 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I think I am starting simple. I am leveling an area beside a patio that is 15x17 for a wooden swing. The retaining wall will be the red liplock blocks. The wall is going to be 15 feet long and 2 feet high. It will be capped off with same 2inch cap rock. I will be backfilling it with dirt then mulch on top. I know my mulch and dirt prices, but not retaing wall block. I read an average quote is 12 per block does this sound about right?
  2. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 601

    What are you going to do for a base? DO NOT backfill the wall with dirt. You need to use stone and before the stone lay filter fabric in the space between the rear of the wall and the soil(soil,fabric,stone,block), this will keep your wall draining which will keep it from falling over. In the bottom under the stone include some perforated pipe wrapped in fabric and daylight it an one of the ends or run it into a dry well. Be sure your base is adequate, minimum 6" deep compacted in 2 lifts, good luck.
  3. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,649

    :hammerhead: here we go again. Do not go out building walls with no concept of what you are doing as you just spelled out. I dont care how small in height it is , someone might add on to it later and your going to be the idiot. Start off with a footer at least 1' in clean agg. install drainage such as pref. pipe filter cloth etc. Bury some block, back fill at least 1' behind with agg. than top with soil or mulch after you insalled some more cloth. These walls are made too and only last by proper drainage. If you dont understand or care to do this concept do not get in to building walls. Im not trying to beat up on you but this is a serious business and you can get burned.
  4. coinster73

    coinster73 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I do appricate your answers. I will reveiw all posts. I have been doing hardscaping for a little over a year now. We have completed many of walls, mostly rock walls, ponds, streams, walls with waterfalls overthem, all kinds of paver patios, ect..... My favorite is one we just completed 16ft circle with arbor over 1/2 of the patio. This also has the stone wall with pond spilling over the wall into the pond. The company I work for has been in business for 6 years and my boss has been doing this for over 20 years. So hopefully I learned something and I was not :sleeping: on the job.

    I was just wondering about how to estimate a wall.
  5. Electra_Glide

    Electra_Glide LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    Step 1: Understand the proper technique for building a wall. This includes topics like: excavation, subbase preparation, base course installation, setting the block, drainage, and backfilling. While most of these issues will apply to all types of walls, there may be some minor varaitions based on which product you plan to use. Do NOT proceed to step 2 until you have a firm understanding of everything in step 1.

    Step 2: Calculate your cost for all materials: block and caps, pins (if required), subbase material, fabric, grid (if required), drainage pipe, backfill material, etc. You also want to include any expenses for rental equipment (skidsteer, plate compactor, etc.).

    Step 3: Estimate the amount of hours required. No one can help you with this, since only you know your capabilities and productivity. This number can also vary based on site conditions and access. Once you have your estimated hours, multiply by your hourly rate.

    Step 4: Once you have the numbers from step 2 and step 3, add them together, add your profit margin, and you're done. Present the number to the customer.

    Yes, there are guys who can estimate a job like this based on a price-per-block, or price-per-square-foot, but most of those guys have built many, many, many walls, and know their production rates and cost structures inside-out and upside-down. Pricing per-block or per-square-foot is NOT the way to do it when you're first starting out. Maybe after you're built a hundred walls, but not now. Also, pricing per-square-foot or pricing-per-block tends to not work so well for small walls, IMHO.


    P.S...if you're working by yourself, everything takes WAY longer than you think...speaking from experience.

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