Cost for HUGE plant install... am I in the ballpark?

Will Fowler

LawnSite Member
Location
Hillsborough NC
Recently we have gotten the opportunity to bid a MASSIVE plant/mulch install job.(at least massive to me) We are a small company with a high end residential customer base.normally I would never consider bidding a job like this but...

it’s a brand new neighborhood going up 3 minutes away from our shop. We would be doing the entrance, a lot of buffer trees, and the landscape install on each house. We have done extremely well with the new neighborhoods around here so I only feel this would give us a lot of exposure and lead to even more work very close by for years to come.

Problem is I have no experience bidding plant jobs beyond bidding ones for residential customers. This job includes over 1,000 buffer trees, hundreds of shrubs around the houses, etc.

My first instinct is to go HIGH, like sky high to cover my ass and maybe I’ll get lucky, But with so many commercial based companies I know if I do that then we won’t even be in the ballpark. So that being said I’m trying to take this as seriously as possible, but in the end have no idea what the ballpark even is. Maybe I have no business bidding a job like this but hell why not try....

So, every job is different, and every company is different in what we need to make on a job right? But with stuff like a paver job you have square footage numbers that you can use as a guide. Same thing for a sod job. There are even guidelines for bidding a property to mow (per acre, half acre, ect) for example, I bid a paver job and the total comes out to $22 a square foot. i would know im at least in the competitive just ballpark based on that number. I was wondering if there are any indications such as that when it comes to large scale plant installation? like, a number you use as far as labor per tree? Or shrub? Or labor per lot? Not as a hard guideline but just as something I can use to check up... I’m looking to hear from someone who has experience bidding these jobs, just to see if the number I have put on this job is even in the ballpark of what’s realistic.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
How do you price a residential install? 2 or 3 times the cost of the plant? Seems like you just do the same thing scaled to the number of plants. I'd start there and see what you come up with as a start.
 
OP
W

Will Fowler

LawnSite Member
Location
Hillsborough NC
How do you price a residential install? 2 or 3 times the cost of the plant? Seems like you just do the same thing scaled to the number of plants. I'd start there and see what you come up with as a start.
Truthfully I have always just done it by the job. It’s a lot easier for me to look at the house, figure out how long it will take us to install all the plants around the house taking every aspect into consideration, get a quote on the plants and then just do our labor rate+cost of plants (adding some to the plants on top of that as well of coarse) but your talking about 1 residential house in that situation....Here we’re talking about installing 1000 buffer trees at once, with an auger for my skid steer, and going back in to install landscaping around each house as they are completed so for me it complicates things. I mean right now it’s just a cleared piece of land so it’s not like I have a house to go look at, and I’m a super visual person when it comes to estimates... I can look at something in person and figure out how long it will take us and be on the money every time but with this all I have is a blueprint to go off of.
That being said Is the 2-3x cost of plants an industry standard? Also is that 2-3x wholesale pricing or 2-3x retail?
Thank you for your help
 

BigJlittleC

Banned
Location
Chicago
Don't over think. You should have some base rates like hourly, half day, day ,week that you want. Take the rate for how long you think it will take and then add your plants, delivery, and markup.

So if you think it will take you a week and three days to do. You charge your weekly rate + 3 days + plants + delivery+ markup= bid price.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
So seems like 2-3x cost of plants could be industry standard... is that 2-3x cost of retail or wholesale?
I believe it's 2x retail, 3 times wholesale. That's an easy way to calculate a base because you know how many of each plant, and you will know what each plant will cost you. Then of course your pricing for mulch and add ins.
 

starry night

LawnSite Fanatic
Good grief, you guys who bid 2-3 times plant price for a bid! That's the lazy way.
On this scale being discussed, there would be a huge difference between the final number if you used 2X or you used 3X. When I was faced with a job of daunting scale, I would estimate it section by section. All the trees of one caliper; all the trees of another caliper, etc. Are the landscape designs for each home the same?
Figure one home. Are they different for some homes? Figure one home of each design.
 

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