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Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by SMK, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. SMK

    SMK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Hi everyone,

    I am a maintenance only company, looking to expand into landscape design/installation this year. Just wondering how everyone puts together accurate quotes/estimates for jobs? More specifically, patios and walkways etc. Any opinions/feedback is much appreciated.

    (and I apologize if there is many threads about this already, if there is please direct me and I will remove this)

  2. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    What do you want to know, is it how to price hardscape, or how to set up an estimate spread sheet?
  3. iowa

    iowa LawnSite Senior Member
    from NW IA
    Messages: 305

    The first thing I would say is to have an accurate plan. The more accurate and to scale, the more accurate your takeoffs will be. We have an excel sheet that we use for all estimating.
  4. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    You're gonna need a scaled design. You're gonna have to become a designer. Do you have a knack for art an creativity? Do you have a full understanding and comprehension of construction, grades, elements of architecture, drainage, and dirt work?

    Without any of that - the rest is moot.


    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. BrendonTW

    BrendonTW LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Oklahoma City
    Messages: 727

    Once you acquire all of that that, you need your operating cost per hour plus profit percentage. Obviously charge for your materials and any contengiencies and other costs. And then you will have your price. Nothing is random or thrown out there as "fair price". Perhaps your profit markup on your hourly rate. But that is hardly random or guessed. In fact it shouldn't be at all.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. crazymike

    crazymike LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 452

    For any estimating, from maintenance to hardscapes to whatever you must know your costs.

    My spreadsheet accounts for everything. I mean everything.

    Here is an example of one for hydroseeding I've been working on. Broke down for one load in the machine. Then to cost per sq foot. This is for a regrade, topsoil and seeding

    Fuel for machines, even the little that the hydroseed machine uses
    Mileage (I have a figure for the truck which includes fuel, depreciation, Maintenance)
    Skidsteer cost (billed out per hour. Includes operator, fuel, maintenance, depreciation).
    Top soil cost
    Delivery cost
    Man hours
    Depreciation for hydroseeder machine %
    Repair for hydroseeding % (figure I set aside every job for repairs, etc...)
    Profit %

    That's just an example. If it was for a patio your list would be similar. But your materials would be different. (sub grade, sand, pavers, edging, material disposal)

    All this stuff is key to a successful business. My equipment is paid for. But I still set money aside for depreciation, etc... Because I will have to replace it. I charge for manhours and machine operator even if I'm doing the job, my time is not free. I charge for the $4 of fuel I'm the machine because it adds up.

    Every little item goes into this spread sheet so I know my true cost of doing business. If I can't do the job for that price, then I might as well stay home.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. crazymike

    crazymike LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 452

    I typed that on my phone, I also neglected a few categories like rent, phone, business expenses, etc... but I think you got the idea.

    You need to factor in every single little price into every bid. Even if you are doing a job for less because it will lead to more work, etc... it pays to know where the money is going. It also helps you balance the books. Just because you have $60,000 in cheques to go in the bank, doesn't mean you have $60,000 to buy a new truck or whatever.
  8. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,142

    $15 a square foot. I dont know what everyone else is talking about. Anyone who charges more is greedy. Anyone who charges less is a lowballer. You do not want to get thrown into either category.
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    A job cost sheet doesnt usually have rent, phone, etc., itemized for the job at hand. Such expenses are typically known as "indirect overhead" expenses. Such expenses are equated into a job cost, but I've seen it done different ways. I cover indirect overhead through the hourly rate per employee. Taking the total annual operating budget and dividing it by the number of estimated production hrs for the total year. To cover the annual budget, I know we can not work for a penny less than that number.

    Now, if you're working somewhere where you need to set up an office with a phone - then those items might be itemized for the job at hand.

    My jobs factor in every single expense pertaining to the job. Right down to the porta-pot rental, the marking paint, and highway tolls. With our excavating/demolition work I'm itemizing fuel on the cost sheet. With hardscapes being so competitive and cut throat I'm not able to do that, fuel used comes out of the annual budget.

  10. SMK

    SMK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    thanks for all your help everyone. I am going to work through everything and put together a spreadsheet template. Would anyone be generous enough to let me take a peek at theirs? I am fairly decent with excel, just for the basic layout and stuff. It would save me a lot of time screwing around (time which is running out quick already). My email is info@smkservices.ca. Or if possible, any recommendations on software? I was looking around and it seems like there is a lot of software out there that is $650+.

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