Empty Lot Opinions

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by trailjunkee, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. trailjunkee

    trailjunkee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Just a little background. I've been maintaining a property in a large (for the mountains) fairly high dollar development. It was is a little out of the way but I figured I could charge for time to get there and would probably pick up some other yards in the development. Well after several years I'm still doing that one yard in the area. Basically because the homeowner didn't get along with the rest of the POA another LCO came into the area and picked up a lot of the work. Now that LCO has disappeared. Won't return phone calls from what I understand from the POA secretary who stopped me yesterday.

    Now she wants to know if I'll bid on doing 20 vacant lots in the POA plus the entrances and a couple of cul-de-sacs. Well the entrances and cul-de-sacs I won't have a problem estimating but the empty lots are another issue. Most she said are 1/2 to 3/4 acre no trees and most fairly flat. But 3 that sit together are very steep (keep in mind I do steep stuff all day long and I consider these steep). I expect these steep ones will need some type of 4x4 equipment with a low range to accomplish. Along with the difficulty of those 3 all the empty lots are to be done only twice a year since the owners are out of state and most are up for sale or only used as buffers between homes.

    My first thought is just to turn them down because I'm not really set up to do them. However they don't want these to look maintained they just don't want them returned to the wild. So here's what I'm thinking. I'll bid on them, don't really expect them to even get other bids if I'm within reason of what they had been paying because she's already said they need me to start ASAP. Planning to bid 2x my going man hour rate or roughly $70 per on the lots and $35-40 per on the entrances and cul-de-sacs since they will be every other week. Any thoughts?

    Then I'm thinking about equipment on the lots. All but the 3 steep ones I think a can cut with my Bobcat with the deck all the way up reasonably quickly. But I'm concerned about undue wear and tear in these rough lots. Then on the steep lots I'll either rent a tractor and bushhog and maybe end up making very little on these 3, after renting or possibly doing them with trimmers/brushcutters. No fun but doable just to get the other lots and get my foot in the door on the other properties in the area. 2nd idea. Bite the bullet and purchase a 4x4 tractor and small bushhog. But I'm not sure I would have enough use for this to justify the cost. I've got one other job that is a mulch job where it would be nice to have a front end loader but not sure that these justify the purchase. Now my third idea and what I think I'm leaning toward is a 4-wheeler with a self powered rough cut (bushhog type) pull behind mower. With this I think I might be able to all the empty properties while preventing wear and tear on my finish mowers. Also I've been trying to expand the chemical end of my business and had been throwing around the idea of getting one of these and mounting a liquid tank and a granular applicator to it.

    None of these seems perfect but what do you do? Has anybody had any experiences with these small 4-wheeler mowers? Any ideas would be helpful guys as I decide what to bid if at all.

    Sorry for the length and thanks in advance for any ideas/advice.

  2. BCSteel

    BCSteel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    It would be a simple choice for me. If it was to much work then I wouldn't take it.

    If you decide to do it and buy equipment especially for it then make sure that it gets paid off during the contract time for that place. You dont want to be paying for equipment that will only be used for a couple hours/year and costing you money instead of making it.
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    What are you cutting with? You mentioned a bobcat, but what is it? A wb? A Z?
  4. trailjunkee

    trailjunkee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    BC thanks, I understand about the to much work don't do it but it does fit into my schedule well. We're talking 20 yards 2 times a summer that's basically going to add 2-3 props per week during the summer added to my existing schedule when I actually have extra time. It's the school year when I'm still teaching that I have to be more careful about schedule. I'm really concerned about using the proper equipment to do this without destroying what I have. I'm expect 17 out of 20 I can do with existing equipment but thinking down the road about expanding service and investing in good usable equipment that will allow me to do these props. faster and in a satisfactory quality (if you can call 2 cuts per year quality). BTW BCsteel mowers right now consit of 1 52" bobcat ztr and 1 36" Toro hydro proline (brand new). I sold my old 36" belt drive toro to a kid at the school who's trying to get started once he graduates this year and I'm kicking my self for doing that but at the time couldn't see 3 mowers for 1-2 man small business plus needed to help pay for the new proline and buy a new string trimmer.

    I'm really leaning toward the 4-wheeler because I'm thinking I can do the 3 steep yards with a good pull behind rough cut mower for it plus could use it to do the other 17 and not have to worry about my commercial stuff. And like I said I was thinking about one of these to do chemical apps. with to extend that end of the business. Really like the idea of being able to ride that 4-wheeler on some of my steep yards with a granular fert spreader on the front and a liquid tank on the back so I can quit walking behind a spreader and carrying a backpack. Plus a trailer for the 4-wheeler could help with alot of mulch or topsoil jobs or dealing with yard-waste and the list goes on. But after using zero turn equipment for so long I'm concerned about the efficency of a 4-wheeler on mid sized props. in some applications mentioned above. I'm hoping somebody's got some first hand nowledge with 4-wheelers for chemical apps and also for rough cutting.

    Thanks again
  5. The Captain

    The Captain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 607

    Bryan.....Check your Private Messages

  6. boonhogganbeck

    boonhogganbeck LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    "Sittin on a sidewalk in Boone, Ain't got nothin better to do"

    -Jupiter Coyote

  7. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I am looking for the exact same information. It seems from doing a search that nobody is too excited about the stuff made by "swisher"...and they are a leader in the tow behind mower field for ATV's. I cannot find anyothers to speak of except for...Kunz.

    I hope someone has some info....I need it too.

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