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First estimates...

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by mikestr, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. mikestr

    mikestr LawnSite Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 87

    I was looking for some last minute advise. I've been doing landscaping for a little while, but first time on my own. It seems that the biggest fear I have now is estimating! (the last thing I thought would concern me) :eek:

    I am actually doing 3 estimates all for lanscaping not lawn related.

    - Removing old shrubs
    - Installing new ones
    - Installing new sod
    Things of that nature...

    Should I calculate $60/hrs for labor ($1 per minute rule) and then add the costs of materials? (shrubs/soil/etc..)

    Any last minute hints and DON'T DO's? I am thinking of just getting measurements, take some digital pictures and finding out what the clients would like to see and then offer an estimate in a couple of days once I make sure of all the costs. Does that sound unprofessional? To make them wait 1-2 days that is...

    Thanks in advance team...
  2. mikestr

    mikestr LawnSite Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 87

    No opinions guys?
  3. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,275

    Good luck getting pricing advice around here! If its a bigger project that you are not comfortable doing, I would suggest you tell the customer. Well, I have all the information. Let me figure this up and I will stop by on tuesday, would 6:00 pm be ok? Tell them that you need to check on some prices, to make sure that you can give them your best quote. Look at it...visualize yourself doing it, and figure out how much time it would take you, and add your costs. The $60/hour is a generalized rule...I would charge less if you have never done a project like this. Obviously it would take you longer...than someone who has maybe done it before.
  4. bigviclbi

    bigviclbi LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 900

    Welcome to owning a business :) I started two years ago and some jobs i made a killing, some killed me :cry: Try to at least get the same for labor as you spend in materials, and remember to add things in like gas, extra tools you might need to buy, and disposal costs. I always went home and did the estimate a few times before I submitted it to make sure I got it right. Most important to getting jobs is prompt response and quick turnaround on the estimate. Most guys lose jobs by not being quick enough. Good luck!
  5. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I sure would not and did not start out with dcharging $60.00 an hour
    .Your making your client pay for you to learn the trade.I would charge alot less if you've not done alot of this yet.
    One of the reasons Landscapers don't like to give exact charges out is that the jobs are so variable.You never know what a charge is gonna be tell you actuallyspeak to the client,look at it,and measure it if needed.
    You have to think about things like acsess,availability and price of materials,what the homeowner wants or doesn't want,how far away is the job and your supplyers from the job
    .Will you be picking up and delivering the materials yourself or if it needs to be delivered?,will you need any special equiptment for it?,can you even do it? or should you let one slide that might be over your head.Are you going to have to bring in help?is it at the top of a hill or down in a steep valley?ect,ect,ect,ect.
    It's not that we don't want to help newbees out
    it's just impossible to really give a general all round price for this kind of work.It is normal procedure to take a few days with an estimate to get back to the client.
    Thats expected.I never ever give a price to a client or give a bid or even a hint of a price when they are standing in front of me.
    I always take the info home and work on a price that I think is fair and reasonable to both parties.
    I don't charge you more cuz you live in ritzyville and have a BMW and a Jag in the drvwy.I don't charge you less if you live in a blue collar area either.
    The price should be determined by the work and materials involved and in the physical aspects of the area you are to work in.
  6. mikestr

    mikestr LawnSite Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 87

    Thanks for the input guys. I took measurements and everyone was accepting of the fact that I would get back to them.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    My rule of thumb is, it's gonna take longer than I think it will take. As you get more and more jobs, you'll get a lot better with your estimating. I don't really do landscaping, but I do a lot of mulch jobs in spring/fall. A lot of times I'll do an estimate and think, "This job is similar to so-and-so's job from last year". I can reference the other job for more info if I need to.
  8. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,275

    A lot of times if I have never done something. I will do it in my own yard. A small sample...and time myself. I get a better idea that way. Don't be afraid to estimate your jobs higher than you think it should cost. Chances are the next guy isn't! If you estimate it a little high....chances are you will never lose money on a job, and sometimes you will come and looking real pretty!
  9. hole in one lco

    hole in one lco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,793

    Iv found that people like to fell impotent and part of the decision proses.
    I take measurements go home work up a drawing on the computer take it back for a ok. Then we go to the nursery together they love that part. Always follow up on the install from time to time it shows you care about yore work and if something is going wrong you can fix it .
    Trust me if you follow these steps you will have more work then you now what to do with.Alway do your plant research before presenting it to the client so you can sound educated
  10. mikestr

    mikestr LawnSite Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 87

    Good points! I was actually thinking about taking some digital pictures of the areas that need the work and changing and adding shrubs/perennials that I suggest. That will give a graphical representation of what it will look like. Picture is worth 1000 words afterall!

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