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cost per foot to dig a trench

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by jrumbaug, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Some root barriers in the right places never hurts. Don't know about vinyl siding though. :)
  2. Denise65

    Denise65 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I know this situation is rare, but I would like an honest opinion from a knowledgeable person and this seems like an AWESOME place to find such a person:

    I have a 34' inactive shallow well and wanted to activate it (also have county water for house use) for watering my garden. I was referred by a co-worker to contact the person who installed his pump system. I purchased the exact pump and pressure tank as my co-worker from eBAY. The installer quoted me $250 + parts (water lines, connectors, glue, spout, etc...). This was another $294, no problem. He was at my home for ~3 days. Day 1--accessing the situation and setting up the pump and pressure tank, installed breaker box in shed (sits about 5 feet from well) Day 2--pulled old lines out of well (it's an above ground system about 3 feet wide and visible about 3 or 4 feet above ground encased in concrete) and replaced old lines with new lines. Day 3--dug line from shop to well (said $250 included this connection), also dug line from shop line to garden area (68 feet), and T'd this line to barn (41 feet). I was never quoted an additional price, but when I asked he said, "oh, it will still be around what I quoted you. On Day 2 and Day 3 there was another man with him (his retired brother-in-law). Since he lives just about a 5 min. walk from my place, I assumed he was just keeping his companion company, although he was obviously helping him. After the job was done, I asked what the total was--I was told, "Well, I haven't figured that out yet." That was early last week. Monday, I was given a total of $720.00, nearly 3 times the original quoted price. When I phoned him to asked why it was so much higher, he told me, "I had help and it's hard to get anyone to work for free." Now, an additional body was never apart of our deal and there was no timeline as to when the job had to be complete. Should I feel obligated to pay above the original quote? I was thinking that additional fee at reasonable rate per foot ($109 x ??) would be fair. What are your thoughts?
  3. HooKooDooKu

    HooKooDooKu LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    This isn't an irrigation question so much as it is really a legal question. First of all, I hope you (and any other home owner reading this) have learned your lesson that ANY work you get done by a contractor needs to have the something in writing. Even a contractor that can be trusted to be honest SHOULD be offering a written agreement if he is smart. Con-men TRY to do work without a contract so they can charge you just about anything they want to. There was a new story just today about door-to-door scams where work is done with no contract and the final bill being several times more than the origanal oral "quote".

    In my opinion, you need to speak to the contractor and inform him you believe his "fee" is out of line because it is no where close to what he quoted or suggested the final cost would be. Then try to work together to find some middle ground. Otherwise, the contractor pretty much has you a bit over a barrel. He has indeed done some contract work for you... that you've now even admitted in an open forum. If you don't pay him what he wants, he can always file a lean against your property. Without a written contract and a receit to prove you've paid for services rendered, you don't have much on your side to prove the lean is invalid. So you want to do something to make sure this contractor doesn't start playing with lean games against you.
  4. Denise65

    Denise65 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Your response to my question was helpful. What I left out in my initial post is that when I called the gentleman to talk about the additional cost of installation, he got angry with me and hung up in my face. I have spoken with 2 other people here were I work that also had work done. I feel confident that I had every right to want to discuss the final cost with him, but his hanging up in my face did not afford me that opportunity. I was not angry when I phone him, mostly inquisitive. If he would have told me why the cost was so much more, I would not have challeneged it because, at the time, I trusted his judgement. Now, I'm not so sure. Thank you for your time and I will be certain that any future projects on my property will be clearly spelled out in writing with costs and expectations in writing. Mos grateful, Denise, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
  5. greenmonster304

    greenmonster304 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,585

    3 days for $720, sounds like a bargain to me.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    I don't handle any jobs typically.

    Maybe that's why I end up on quite a few sites re-doing other landscapers work. Anyway, I really don't use formulas or rates based on averages. I figure out each job for what it is. Similar to how I treat each yard individually for solutions and improvements.

    Seems like too many variables anyway. Like some yards have irrigation lines in the ground, and some don't. Some have tree roots, and some don't. Some have rocks, and some don't. Some are done when it's dry, and some are done when it's wet and soft.

  7. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,131

    I'll also add to make sure the price given in the contract is for a proposal and not an estimate. In most states the contractor can raise the estimate prices on the final bill so long as he can show he needed more materials or time than origainally planned, such as expecting soft dirt but then finding that the ground is solid rock once he starts digging. Where as a contractor who instead provides a proposal can not raise the final price unless he gets permission from you for extra work or it is listed in the terms of the contract.
  8. Denise65

    Denise65 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Thank you for your reply. We were able to come to terms on the final amount owed. What I have learned here is invaluable for ANY project I engage in at my home--GET SOMETHING IN WRITING! Also, ask plenty of questions relating to the project and do not be afraid to get as specific as is feasible taking the project at hand under consideration. Thanks to EVERYONE who replied!
  9. 1idejim

    1idejim LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,081

  10. 1idejim

    1idejim LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,081

    denise, your posts are prime examples of why price posting is discouraged on public forums. from your posts one can easily assume that:

    1) you did the work as an owner builder using an unlicensed contractor
    2) you didn't pull a permit as an inspection was not mentioned.
    3) you purchased the parts separately to keep the costs at a minimum.
    4)the price that you quoted would not pay a journeyman's wages and contributions for 1/2 day in the real world.
    5) since this is a professional forum with public access, the whole world sees these questions, statements and opinions. however, the focal point of your posts (guy doing the installation) wasn't invited to defend himself.
    6) some members might take your side without hearing the "contractors" side but i feel that you should share blame in this scenario, not for failing to get the job description in writing but for trying to "lowball the labor".

    here are a few things to think of:
    a) you have no warranty.
    b) if you have a fire or electrical shock situation you are the responsible party, not the installer.
    c) as many people that see your side will prolly see the other side and view this as a hack job from the inset.

    i don't know if you will rebut this or not since you only have 3 posts. seems that the forum allowed you to vent and receive some free advice, you may be done with us.
    or not.

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