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Complete landscape Job patios, plants and walls

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by quicknclean, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. quicknclean

    quicknclean LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Ok, I have a landscape job I need to put together an estimate for.

    They want 2 boulder walls that are basically built into the gentle hillside. They will be about 2' high. (All boulders will be 18-24")

    In addition to those 2 walls, they want 1 wall on the side of the house that will be about 10-12' long and 4' tall at its max.

    They also want pavers, 2 patios (450sq ft total) and their stairs and entry concrete stuck with pavers as well. (90sq)

    They want the black edging around the whole house filled with rock and aprox 30 shrubs, and 30 perennials. These will be used for around the home and the 2 boulder outcroppings.

    I will also be putting in about 125ft of drain tile for their gutters.

    Last but not least is to do a final grade, but not installing sod.

    Ok, I will be honest; I have never done any pavers, and do not own a skid steer. Please give me a hand with your input. I really want to step up and feel like this could be a great way to learn while doing a good job.

    Thanks, Paul
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    OK you have to figure our how much all your materials are going to cost you. Deliveries ect. You will need 1/4" gravel and concrete sand for the base layers of the patios. LengthXWidthXdepth (thickness) at least 4" gravel and 2" sand for pavers. You will need edging for the patio pavers as well. Excavating, laying a line, drainage, are all part of laying pavers.
    This is not work you want to take on without ever having done it before,
    but if you insist, then read the Hardscaping Forum archives for full info.
    Black edging does not hold rock well, go with thicker edging.
    It's sometimes best to break these jobs into seperate estimates- 1 for the patios 1- for the boulder walls- 1 for the planting and bed work.
    But 1st thing is to figure out what materials you will need, where you are going to get that material, how much material you need and how much it will cost you. Then add your deliveries, add your profit mark-up on all materials.
    From what you describe this is a big job for a beginner and you will probably need help. Make sure you can actually perform the work before you take it on. Softscaping and hardscaping are just too detailed to explain how to do it on here.
    Searching the forum archives for info will help a lot. You have a ways to go before you need help on your labor charges.
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I guess I can speak only for myself. But there's no way I could help you give an accurate bid with just the information you provided.

    First, I have no idea what your expenses are, what your overhead is, what prices are in your area, what your local labor rates are like, your profit margin, or your local codes. So what I would quote for that kind of work here in Portland, OR is probably radically different from what someone in Excelsior, Minnesota would charge for the same kind of job.

    Second, I don't know your standing in your industry. I don't know what your reputation is, how much the client trusts you, how many referrals you come with, what your production times are, etc. All these factor into how much you can charge for any specific job. My numbers for each of these things are guaranteed to be much different than yours would be.

    Third, there simply isn't enough information. What size property is it? What's the access like? Can you get some equipment in there? What are the soil conditions? What are the local codes? (Here, you can't build a wall over 3' 15/16" without an engineer and permits) Materials (like boulders and pavers) probably vary quite a bit from your area to mine. What kind of obstacles do you have to work around? Fences, decks, hydrants, etc.? Do you have to go over existing landscape with big equipment and then repair said landscape after you're done? There are a dozen more questions I'd need to know before even thinking about giving a bid.

    The reality is nobody here in this forum is going to be able to provide you with anything close to an accurate bid. Our areas are different. Our production times are different. Our prices for materials are different. And the property you're working on is unique. Too many variables.

    If you're going to delve into stuff you aren't familiar with bidding, you should probably not jump into such a big job to start with. I never bid big jobs without being sure of my expenses and production times. So when our company first did our own paver jobs, we started very small. We did a small 10' x 10' paver patio. After that, we learned about how long that took us to do. Next, we did a 10' x 20' patio. And so on. Each time, we learned more about our production times, materials, unexpected items, etc. But I never just jumped into a big job without knowing how to bid it. I knew how to bid the big job because I had worked my way up to that job with dozens of smaller jobs over the years. I would advise you to do the same.
  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    It is always a good rule of thumb not to do a job that you have a great deal of difficulty pricing.

    It comes down to this. Pricing, as Jim points out, is based on understanding the work involved, the capabilities of the people who will do the the work, how much that work is valued by the client, and what alternatives the client has. When the job is one in which you can't price, it can only be for one reason - you don't understand some of those factors for this particular job. It is never a good idea to take on a job that you do not have enough of an understanding about and not being able to price it should tell you that you are not yet ready to do this particular job at a professional level.

    You should always be able to reasonably price out a job that is a little more than you have actually done based on your experience. When you can't, it can only mean that you do not have enough experience to do the job. When I say "do the job", I mean as a contractor rather than a laborer.

    Being a contractor is more than building things like a foreman and a laborer. You are being paid to price it, get the materials and expertise in place, schedule, and complete the job. You don't earn the money of a contractor, if you do not do the work of a contractor.
  5. quicknclean

    quicknclean LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Ok, the answers I'm getting is that I do not have proper skills, and that I should not even attempt to complete this job.

    To respond, I feel like the only thing that I am not really competent doing is the pavers. I have done walls, and plantings and landscapes around homes. However, I have not done paver patios.

    This yard is new construction=no grass, graded out dirt currently, some top soil.

    Am I crazy to try? What if I sub it out?

    I am a smaller Lawn-Landscape-Tree & a great deal of other stuff company. I have a Duramax 2500. I have a dump trailer, 18' landscape trailer, wright stander mowers, a John Deere 650 diesel compact tractor-loader-backhoe-hydro front plow-and blower attachments. I live with my parents currently, and just last week celebrated my 21st birthday.

    I just really want to learn so I can actually do these types of jobs with a mentality that yes "I CAN DO THAT" and say it with confidence.

    Thanks for the input thus far.

  6. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    You have to start somewhere, as long as your clients are informed you have never done pavers before I say study up and if you feel like you can do it then go for it. Follow my advice if you do do it and research thoroughly first. There is a wealth of info on laying pavers, google it up and read.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Ok, well then your post should have been, "help me figure out the bid for this paver job...." then provide us with more details.

    If you already know the other stuff, then no need to ask everyone to help you bid those other parts of the job. You will know your costs and production times a whole lot better than anyone here would.

    As for details, you'd want to include whether it was front yard or back yard, how easy the access is, can you get equipment back there, what's the size of the paver job in sq. ft., what shape is the paver patio (square, rectangle, round, etc.), how much excavating needs to be done, and where will the soil that is excavated go, etc.
  8. outcold00

    outcold00 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    how do you charge for something like that? and i mean, if access is bad, you have to go up and down hills in fences? ect... how do you figure out what to add to the price?
  9. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    I don't doubt that you have the skills to do the work. But, you clearly don't have the skills to do the job. Part of doing the job is pricing it, writing up a contract, getting a deposit, knowing the materials, getting the materials, then using those skills that you have, and finally finishing the job well, collecting the money, and addressing any problems that may occur.

    Right now it sounds like you know how to do the construction, but not the rest.
  10. Turf Troll

    Turf Troll LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    Read up on installing pavers, talk to your parents about the new paver patio/walkway your going to do for them, you'll figure a lot out you'll need to do pavers, and if not this job the next you will have some confidence in doing the job.

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