First Job Ever.....Advice

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JeffTheShrubber, Jun 25, 2003.

  1. JeffTheShrubber

    JeffTheShrubber LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Alright, myself and my partner in crime are doing our first job of many. We are removing 8 bushes, installing 40 some plants, re-doing/rearranging a paver walkway, and building a 1-1.5 tall retaining wall. Not exactly a straightforward first job, but something we both know we can handle. Now, currently we have 60 man-hours set aside for this job working off of $45 dollars an hour for labor. I'm thinking the labor bill is coming in a little high but wanted to get some second opinions. We don't want to blow this guy out of the water, but we want to get as much as possible. We both do have full-time jobs but just wanted to get our name out before throwing it all in. Thanks for your help in advance.

  2. deere ZTR

    deere ZTR LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 84

    Do you have insurance and a license and pay income tax from this???

    If not you are way over priced and should not be doing it from the get go and are a "SCRUB"

    If you have all of those things then it depends on the area you are in for the most part.
  3. Lawn Tek

    Lawn Tek LawnSite Senior Member
    from u s a
    Messages: 457

    How can we tell if your priced right ? How long is the wall ? How many angles ? How large are the plants ? How easy is site access ? How much is your overhead ? How large are the plants to remove ?
  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    My opinion:

    You are charging the labor rate of a well established, well equiped, and well managed landscape company. If you do not deliver, you are well over priced. Being that it is your first job, I would think that you are over priced.

    Experience and equipment equals speed, plants surviving, and a walkway that is going to be the same five years from when the job is complete. I am wondering if you have previous experience that makes you know that you can do this well enough to command that kind of money.

    I think that if you have little experience with this kind of work, you think that almost anyone could do it. If you think that almost anyone could do it, why would you think that it is worth $45/hour?
  5. JeffTheShrubber

    JeffTheShrubber LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Access to the site is not a problem, the whole job is set on the front of a house. The main wall is going to be 15ft long with a gentle curve to raise up one corner of one of his beds. Two other small walls no more than 6" high by 10' long in total to tie in with the other side. The bushes we are pulling out are on average 4ft. tall but there is driveway access to gently pull them out with my truck. The plants being put in are for the most part 3 to 5 gallon material, some 1 gallons, a couple B+B jap. maples, and a large 'Fernspray' Hinoki Cypress. No overhead, and not getting licensed or insured until I get out of college. Basically just starting up. I would appreciate not being called a "SCRUB" just because we are just starting up but I guess thats your opinion as well. I thought we were a little high but thought a couple different opinions wouldn't hurt.
  6. Lawn Tek

    Lawn Tek LawnSite Senior Member
    from u s a
    Messages: 457

    Main wall how tall ? What kind of material ? What kind of base ?
    What kind of drainage ? What kind of warranty are you offering ?
    The reason you will get hammered on here is your taking a job from a legitimate landscaper , someone who has insurance , pays tax's etc . not having these is why some folks call it scrub work . As you can see there are too many variables to your question to answer it . Get insurance first , then get the work .
  7. JeffTheShrubber

    JeffTheShrubber LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    This is really more of a side job, and as far as I know the homeowner is not taking any other bids. The guy I work with works at a nursery, and from there the customer approached us asking if we could design/build their front yard. The wall is going to be 1.5 ft tall, and the base will be 4" of 3/4 crushed stone. That stone will also serve as drainage. The plants will have a 1 year guarantee, and as far as the hardscape I haven't thought about placing a warranty on it, a year seems a little short, what is a typical length of a warranty on a retaining wall? BTW The whole reason we are doing this job is so that we can have the bones to get licensed and insured once I get out of school and we start actually competing with other landscapers to do a job. For now I guess I am happy being a scrub.
  8. LakeSide Lawn and Landscape

    LakeSide Lawn and Landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 337

    Lawn tek and everyone else...Lay off every one starts somewhere.If you can get $45 an hour heck go for it, just make sure you know what your doing because if the base of those walls arent set properly they can and will fall.My first year I didnt have insurance either thank goodness nothing happend.Just try and get it as soon as you can.hope this helps
  9. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    wait a minute, why cant you just answer the guy? first off, are u charging $45 for a two man crew, or $90 for the 2 man crew? second, 60 man hrs seems like an awful lot of time for a small project. if u r thinking it may take you longer cus u r inexperienced, the customer should not have to eat the extra expense. why dont u tell me exactly what u r planting, and disposing of,finishing it off with topdressing of any kind(mulch/stone)? and if u will be guarenteeing the plants. give me a material list, and ill help u out.
  10. JeffTheShrubber

    JeffTheShrubber LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks for the help guys, I know insurance is obviously a big deal, but its not part of the equation right now. The plants will have a one year guarantee in writing. The labor was $90 an hour for both of us ($45 a piece), but I think that I was dreaming at the time. Now I am thinking somewhere around $50-$60 an hour to get both of us out there ($25-$30 a person). We are not billing for the time taken to design, or any consultation fees or anything, just the work surrounding the actual job and drive time and such. Plant list:

    1 5-6' 'Fernspray' Hinoki Cypress
    1 24-30" 'Crimson Queen' Jap. Maple
    1 5 gal Pyramidal Jap. Holly
    1 12-18" Jap. Painted Fern
    4 18-24" St. John's Wart (hypericum)
    2 3gal Gulf Stream' Nandina
    7 2gal 'Stella d'oro' Daylilies
    3 2 gal Variegated Hosta
    3 3 gal 'Helleri' Jap. Holly
    3 1 gal 'Dwrf. Prelude' Andromeda (pieris)
    2 3 gal 'Gold Mop' Cypress
    3 1 gal Variegated Liriope
    3 1 gal Short Variegated Grass

    The front of the house is pretty heavily shaded on one side, going to almost full exposure on the other. The wall is the main hurdle on this, everything else we are pretty well versed at. I am gathering as much info. as possible to work everything out. Right now we have 2 guys (us) working 10 hours to: dig out the foundation of the wall, lay the 3/4" stone and tamp it, put the wall up and then backfill. I have heard alot about the ease of drain tiles but don't know if it would be worth it to source them as well, any input on that would be nice as well. Thanks again guys, I was expecting some flak but as long as I get a little guidance its all good.

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