Estimating labor, 40%?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by grlandscaping, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. grlandscaping

    grlandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    Here's a question for residential and commercial landscapers, do you figure each task and bid hours or do you do a total percentage of all materials and labor would be 40% of that?

    I've run into contractors that do both, and the 40% for all materials seems to work out pretty good, I've done it that way and have been very pleased how it works out. Granted you may come up short on some jobs, but you come out real good on others.

    If anyone's got experience with this, I'd like to hear what you think. (I did a search and didn't see this really discussed)
  2. ksland

    ksland LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 927

    That is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard of. ;)
  3. grlandscaping

    grlandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    Sorry...I phrased my question wrong. The 40% would pertain to planting, mulch, compost. Not hardscaping, grading, seeding, etc....

    sorry for the generalization.
  4. chesie

    chesie LawnSite Member
    Messages: 79

    So let me get this straight. If you pay $20/yd of're going to charge $8 dollars to install it???????

    Not to trying to sound harsh but where do guys come up with these #'s? You need to add up your labor burden, overhead, and profit to come up with a per hour amount that it takes to recover your overhead, etc. and to acheive your desired profit. This could range from on the VERY low end $25/mhr to the skies the limit.

    Oh + materials:)
  5. grlandscaping

    grlandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    you're right, its a crock of ****.
    As far as the mulch example goes, i don't just charge what I buy the material for, what i did was pretty much double it, so at $20/yd x 2 = 40 x .4= $58 installed. The same went with the other materials, like a $10 shrub would be $28 installed.

    I like knowing more details about my estimating and expenses, so i went back and am figuring it the 'correct' way.
  6. hosejockey2002

    hosejockey2002 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,195

    If the formula works for you, use it. I wouldn't work for me. I just consider how much it costs to obtain a certain product or material, and how long it takes me to install it. For example, scalloped concrete edging is pretty cheap to buy, but time consuming to install straight and level. I charge 4-5 times the cost of materials, depending on access, how many cuts, etc. But if a customer just wants, say a bird bath placed in a flower bed, I would just consider the cost of the bird bath (with markup), the time it took me to buy it and transport it, and the time it took me to place it, and charge accordingly. In this case the 2.4x material may be close. Or maybe not, depending on all the variables involved.
  7. Green Gopher

    Green Gopher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    Time is money and I don't work for free. It sounds like you would be shorting yourself most of the time on most jobs. Talk to the guys you know who use this system, and see if there is something they left out when they explained it to you.
  8. grlandscaping

    grlandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    I'm sure it isn't as simple as they made it seem. It did work the couple of times i did it, but the possiblility to screw yourself is there. One thing i'm learning on here is that everyone has their own techniques to estimating, some are very easy and simple, others analyze their data, come up with formulas, etc... I'm developing my own system that incorporates both, since i don't really care for estimating, especially when it's the busy season. Anyways, hope everyone is having fun getting ready for the season to start, i am :)
  9. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    Right now we use Excel to estimate with. We've got a full working demo on an estimating software package, but haven't played with it too much.

    That being said, I think we will probably stick with Excel for the time being. Why? Because it works for us. We figure out what materials we will need. Apply costs to those materials, plus markup. If it's plants, they are marked up 100%. If hard goods, usually 50%, depending on the client.

    We also know about how long it will take to complete each phase of the job, based on the type of material that goes into it. We know how long it will take to plant (we break that out by size of plants, for example, 1G = .2 hours, 2G= .3 hours, 6' B&B conifer= 2.3 hours, etc.), how long to mulch, how long to do this or that. We then apply our labor rate to those figures.

    Right now we are in the process of bidding on a VERY large job. We've got each area of the job broken out with how long it will take to complete each activity in each area on the jobsite. How large is it? Well, in Excel, we have numbers clear down into the 330th row! And more numbers on a different sheet!

    On this particular job, it's 90% labor and equipment, so that 40% thing absolutely would not[/i] work. As a matter of fact, I've never even heard of that 40%.

    Just remember, if it works for you that doesn't necessarily mean it will work for me. You need to know your own costs and develop your estimates based on those, not ours...

  10. In a perfect world - MAYBE!


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