Charging more than proposal/estimate

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Red Shed Landscaping, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    I was wondering what you guys do when a job takes longer than expected with the final invoice/bill due to taking longer than expected?

    I give them an estimate and describe the steps involved but I haven't been doing very well at estimating the hours involve since I haven't had any experienced people working for me this year. Do you guys eat the cost of the extra labor or do you still charge for all the hours worked? I will charge extra for legit reason like finding an old foundation or extra crappy dirt we have to haul out and bring in better.

    I have a disclaimer on the estimate saying just that, This is an estimate and can change depending on total hours involved in the project and quantity of materials used since there can be unexpected things in the ground or something built not like it should have been and so on. I have been eating the cost mostly unless it was something they changed and get charged accordingly. I look at it as if I were them, in the fact that its not their fault that the employees worked slow so why should they have to pay for it.

    All these unexperienced employees have cost me $10,000-20,000 in hours I haven't been able to bill since we were not as efficient as I had pictured in my mind when I did the estimate during the winter. Some of it is my fault for not estimating higher but I didn't think I wouldn't be able to find at least one person who could work hard. I have hired 6 so far this year and down to maybe one but doesn't seem like he will work out either. The longest one lasted 3 months.
  2. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    It depends on the specific reasons for the overage, it would be better to correct the causes by working on your reasons for inefficiency. Before your credibility is questioned.
  3. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    I have read this post and that's all I can say...
  4. GrassGuerilla

    GrassGuerilla LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,440

    Sounds like you screwed the pooch. You covered your butt with the "extras" clause. But from your description, it sounds like you bid a job you don't have the labor force to do. Did you encounter issues that added to your estimate, or did you simply underestimate?

    My bid is my bid. It doesn't change unless the job does.
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    You can not charge a customer for your incompetence. You estimated the job, you should know what you're doing.

    There is an exception for when I may charge for additional materials. If I have time later tonight ill go into detail.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  6. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    Like I said I haven't been charging for the overages due to me underestimating or the guys not performing to my ideals.

    I have been estimating the projects based on what I have done in the past and how I work but not taking into consideration for how my employees have been working which is slow and can't comprehend the littlest things like how to dig a trench.

    I was pretty sure most to all of you would be on the same page that you can't charge more for no additional surprises or changes. I have always been that way but it has been way worse this year since I have been training so many people. I can just chalk it up to opportunity/building business cost.

    GOATMAN GEORGE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    Seriously +1. Your going to get horrible reputation if you decide to charge your underestimated labor. You lost that $10'000 to 20000 yourself by bad estimating. The simple solution is estimate better.
  8. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    It may be best to sub contract larger jobs, or jobs that are more technical and learn from them. Then as you grow, hire on the right people to build your projects. Make sure you use an A+ contractor though.
  9. MJK

    MJK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 356

    It's a very bitter pill to swallow, but that's all you can do, change your production times. For me, we used to have problems with workers, invest in equipment or rent and limit the amount of bodies needed on a job site as possible. We only need 2 good hands plus my self to do every job profitably.
  10. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    How much are you paying your workers? You get what you pay for, I would look I to skilled workers with references

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