Advice/Opinions Wanted on this potential Job

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by LB1234, May 17, 2011.

  1. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    I have a potential job in which I'm honestly still deciding if I even want to bid on. The best way to describe it is through the picture that's attached. It would in a nutshell be replacing the wood retaining wall that is currently in place with a SRW. The homeowner would like to utilize Techo's creta for this. My immediate thoughts were semma or suprema. The wall is approximately 90 lineal feet in length and has an exposed height of approximately 30 inches at its highest point. My thoughts were to build a 4' high wall burying approximately 2' of that height. As you can tell in the pic there are lots of trees to contend with. What happens if during excavation I hit one of those oaks roots...overdig yes...but what happens to an 80' tree that I'm tearing out its uphill roots? My other concern would be in the soil, or lackthereof. This area is extremely rocky, its basically on a mountainside. How do I account for all of the costs associated with this. I think my "clauses" are going to wind up being more expensive than the project itself! Anyhow, I'm looking for advice, feedback, opinions and a little bit of an outsiders perspective and how you may or may not approach this.
    Once again, thx.:waving:


  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,552

    Is this a thread we would see on another forum?

    I'm lost as to why you would build a 4-foot high wall and then bury it? There is hardly any surcharge behind the existing wall - due to the close proximity of the dwelling.

    Tree Roots: What people do not realize is trees have minimal roots. If you have ever knocked one over with a loader or if the wind has blown one over - you're amazed at what little structure actually holds a tree upright on the ground. Yes, I said "on the ground", not in the ground. Cutting the roots could very well kill the tree. No one can say yes or no for sure. Only mama nature knows.

    With that said - this is where your clause that you already have on the disclaimer page of your proposal kicks in. You know, the clause that says you're not liable / responsible for disturbances. The clause that you have stated "trees" as an example.

    You will also want to point this out to the client in person.

    As far as rock - again, you'll need a clause that in the event a breaker is needed - that'll cost 'em mow-money!

    If you want to do the job and walk away with any money, whether its a small amount or large amount of money - you need to dot all your I's and cross all your T's. You'll need to cover every angle there is.

    I would help you more, as this is an area I'm strong in, but I havent had dinner yet and I
    have a design to start and hopefully finish.

    As always, this home owner will find someone to do the job without clauses and for a dirt cheap price. Which, you'll be sound asleep in your comfy bed while that clown is sweating bullets cause he spent all this direct expense budget on labor hours from digging with a pick.

    LOL - on a side note: I priced a retaining wall a few weeks ago. The owner DID NOT want to pull a permit! The wall is to go on a property with a NEW HOME under construction, meaning inspectors are there weekly!

    In my proposal I inserted a clause stating that the client will assume all liability and responsibility arising from building a wall without a permit. And it stated that client will pay for each day we can't work due to a "stop work" order being issued.

    Needless to say..........they went with an out of state contractor...

    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  3. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

  4. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    behind the dwelling is yet another hill like the front. I'm not about to assume minimal surcharge. I'd rather over than under build.

    Where I do 100% agree with you is that someone else will likely come in no permits, no clauses, and lose his shorts and that this homeowner will see the 5-10k less price. hence, part of the reason I'm not sure I want to bid on this. looking for opinions exactly as you have laid out. perhaps spark something or look at it from a different angle.
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,552

    the hill behind the dwelling will collapse into the basement before it makes it into thr front!

    If the soil is rocky - then it has structure and ain't going anywhere. In California their soil isn't rocky and has no structure, thats why they have landslides. So with that said - no need for doing all that burying.

    Is it a rock table? Or just shale? If it's just shale and loose rock - a 7,000# excavator will dig the footer just fine.

    Keep in mind there is already a wall there. Tell Tale signs. Someone apparantly was able to dig.

    Wanna get the job? Here is what you do:

    Forget Techo-block material. ALWAYS remember.....the hardscape industry in America THRIVED just fine before Techo-bloc entered the U.S. market.

    Go with Nicolock's non-tumbled Colonial wall. Looks identical to the Creta. Only a contractor or a block sales rep can tell the difference. Techo is around, what, $16 to 17 / SF?? Ok, Nicolock's non-tumbled is around 9 bucks / SF. All the non-tumbled means is it has a split face, not wet cast.

    Then, then savings in block cost will allow you to pad the labor.

    And dont forget the root clause.


    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  6. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    I know well qualified people that will underbid you big time on that wall (based on what you said you would do) and they would do fine and be done quickly.
  7. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    I don't disagree
  8. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    I agree with mdlwn1, you are putting way to much thought into this. What surcharge? I am not sure you understand surcharge...Its a timber wall that seems to be holding up just fine so I doubt that surcharge or poor base is really a concern.

    Also disagree with product selection, seems like a country-ish lot with a more natural feel and your going to throw in precast wall? I know its the owners choice but I would use your experience and possible design knowledge to sway them other wise.

    A simple 1 or 2 courses of large armourstone or boulders will hold up much better, and if it shifts a little due to the tree roots it won't compromise the wall.

    Just my opinion, take it or leave it.
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,552

    I noticed that too lastnight. That the existing wall really appears structurally sound. Al least what the angle of photograghy shows.

    Thats a job I myself would price and I bet we'd get it. AND.......I'll make money.

    Sometime when we're burned out we tend to get a little negative :hammerhead:

    And yes, in terms of patio sales - I'm as burned out as can be, so I can relate to LB1234's sour attitude :)


  10. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Is this one of your jokes?
    In VA we are required to have "A statement of assurance that the contractor will comply with all local requirements for building permits, inspections, and zoning" in our contracts.
    I can't imagine that MD is less strict.
    If I were to use your clause and get caught, there are lawyers that might refer to it as written evidence of intentionally ignoring the law.
    Read 9.e on page 26:

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