landed my largest job EVER

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by alexschultz1, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Man, I would love to celebrate with you, but in all honesty, it sounds like you're in over your head. I know you said it aint your first rodeo but several other things you said really make it sound like you aren't prepared for doing this big of a job.

    First, you mention that it's your biggest job ever. And I know it's easy to get excited when you get a big job like that. But anyone who has actually experienced doing a lot of big jobs like that will usually tell you that they are often the most problematic....the ones where you have more potential for things to go wrong.... the ones you will get the most call-backs for. Having done quite a lot of jobs like that I will tell you that I still get excited when I land them, but honestly, I'd rather get 5 smaller $10K jobs than one big $50K jobs any day. On the big ones, you own them. Anything that ever goes wrong; settles, dies, quits watering, stops working (lighting), you're going to be getting a call on your cell phone to come over and fix it ASAP. And if you think you're so good that nothing's going to go wrong, well then I guess I should just stop writing. I'm totally wasting my time then......

    Second, $100 for a design? What kind of design is that? Who is the designer? Is this person really trained landscape designer or landscape architect? I've contracted out for literally HUNDREDS of designs over the years. And I've never had a good quality design by a professional well trained designer or L.A. cost less than $500-$600. And usually it's more than that! You're seriously going to do some cheap $100 design for a house that is $1.5 Mil? Honestly, I think it's the homeowners you're working with who are the ignorant ones here. Just the fact that they think they could get a really well done design for $100 is laughable. That would usually scare away most of my clients if I told them our designs were that cheap.

    Third, you mention you're wanting to do all this in 1 week? 5 days? That concerns me in many different ways. It concerns me because if you're really going to get all that done in 5 days that means you take some serious short cuts. Or the other option is that you've drastically under-estimated how long this project is going to take you and therefore probably aren't charging enough and going to loose your a$$ on the job. I guess maybe you're 4 guys are faster than the rest of us or something. And I haven't seen the design. But in general, here are some production times for a job like you're doing:

    200+ feet of boulder retaining walls 4 feet high
    4 Days. For an couple really experienced guys and a big track hoe and loader.

    I don't know how many fountains and what kind or style. But even a modest rock bubbler fountain will take us most of a day to install. And you said plural fountains? So let's say 2 Days.

    A court yard
    Not sure what that means. To me, that means an area with some nice seat walls around where people are going to spend some time. But whatever it is, figure at least 1-2 Days

    Over 400 plants, 8 Trees
    That would take us a good Day and a half with 4 guys. Unless they're all 1 gallon plants. And if they are all 1 gallon plants, that's not going to be a very impressive job.....

    If you're planning to do even a half-way decent lighting job - on a $1.5 Mil house - that's something that's going to take a good day or more to do. If you're doing it quicker than that, either you're really not installing very many light fixtures (which again, won't be very impressive) or you're just going at it half-a$$ed and slamming stuff in the ground without much care. Go to the lighting forum and ask the guys there if you think I don't know what I'm talking about. Ask them if they think you can do a nice quality lighting install in just a few hours on a $1.5 Mil. home. You'll get laughed out of the forum.

    Flagstone walkway
    Now again, it doesn't say how big. But we've done a lot of those and I haven't done many that took less than a day. Many took 2-3 days to do.

    500 sq feet of pavers
    This is the part that really baffles me. We do a LOT of paver jobs. And unless this is a boring rectangle shaped patio with no curves or cuts on it (which again is pretty freakin' boring and not very impressive) then it would generally take at least 3 Days to do a nice 500 sq. ft. paver patio. If it is a pathway, those take even longer, usually, because of the curves and all the extra cuts

    And a full irrigation system
    There aren't a whole lot of guys on Lawnsite who have installed more irrigation systems than we have. This is something I do have quite a bit of expertise in. I was a speaker at the 2010 Rain Bird select contractor conference. I was selected to represent the NW region as one of 15 members of the Rain Bird Contractor Advisory Council. I know irrigation pretty well. So unless you guys do it a lot different than most of the rest of us do, a full irrigation install on a good sized property will usually take a good 5 days just by itself.

    So that's about 19 days, by my count. Again, this is without seeing any of the details. But how do you expect to get something like this done in 5 days? Am I missing something? Maybe this is the smallest irrigation system ever or maybe you're just installing 4 spot lights and that's what you're considering a lighting system. Otherwise, I don't get it.

    I hate to rain on your parade, buddy. I'd love to help you celebrate. But it just seems like you're ill prepared to do a job like this and aren't working in reality.

    If I'm way off on my production times, post a reply with how long you think each of these projects are going to take.
  2. Fordsuvparts

    Fordsuvparts LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 517

    I couldn't agree with you more, I would love to see an honest day by day break down of this job, and how much was done each day. I remember 10 years ago when we landed our first really big job and spent more time planning what we would spend the money on, than actually realizing how over our head we were. What we thought we would do in 10 days took almost 4 weeks because of inexperience and utility relocates that we had not planned on.
    I hope you do get this job done quickly and make a lot of money, but in the real world that rarely happens, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and remember CYA!!!!
  3. IES

    IES LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 296

    Always wait till the end of a job(and getting paid) before celebrating.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,142

    I said $100 for a design. I take a picture, put in the patio or put in new shrubs in the front of the house or whatever...walkway, walls. It doesn't take very long...maybe 3 hours all together but I do it to get the job not to make money off the plan. I have done work off LA's plans and half the time I am not impressed with all the money they spend. I used to do it for nothing, to scale on graph paper and everyone likes these computer pictures better. I sell way more jobs with it.

    I used to do them for nothing. I do agree about he timeline...that is why I questioned way will this job be completed correctly in 7 days with 5 guys I.M.O.
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Oh, My bad. I thought that was Alex who said that.

    And I'm sorry, but I disagree. You can't do a really nice well thought out design in just a couple hours. Not for a full property. No way. Doing a major landscape job without getting it professionally designed by someone who at least has had some major schooling in the art of design is like letting your painting contractor choose your paint, rather than hiring an interior designer. Sure, the painting guy might have a few ideas of what looks okay - but his recommendations aren't going to compare with someone whose been through interior design school. It's just not that simple. The painting job picked out by the painting contract will probably look pretty nice. But if you had hired a really good interior designer, the same job would have turned out 2x as nice. Same thing with landscaping. If you really want it to turn out amazing, you really need to have it designed by someone with an eye for creativity and specialty training in landscape design.

    If you weren't impressed with the L.A.'s design in the past, then maybe use a different L.A. Take a look at some of their past work first. Because there are some weird quirky ones out there and there are some who just plain rock! The best jobs I've done (including the one where we were featured on the cover of a major landscaping magazine) were all done by a landscape designer with a degree in landscape design or a L.A.
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Good posts Jim!

    I'd say 2-3 weeks to complete it, minimum.

  7. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,142

    The jobs we do are not really this big. Not that we couldn't.....but it isn't every day people call for this kind of job(at least not me). So when I say I design them it is typically like we want a patio out back with a walkway and we want to rip out the shrubs in the front and re-do the front of the house....or just a walkway or a patio. I am not doing a real complex plan for them. On a job like the O.P. is talking about I would not attempt to design it. I do the patios on the computer because a lot of times they have trouble picking colors so I show them a few samples of their patio against their house with a couple different colors. I usually show them a contrasting soldier course because a lot of times people cant grasp that when I suggest it. Once you draw up the patio changing colors is the click of a mouse. Believe it or not people seem more impressed with this than plans because they can visualize it.
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Ok. I gotcha. If it's not a full landscape install where you're designing the entire yard, then yah. I could see that. Just for patios and smaller planting areas. Makes sense.
  9. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    I think Jim pretty much summed it up for all of us!
  10. GroundOneMN

    GroundOneMN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Not to be that guy, but I will disagree and suggest you look for the right landscape arch or designer. You will find your sales are easier and the construction of those projects are more presise and more profitable. Building off a "picture" leaves alot of room for interpetation and confusion among homeowner and builder. With a set of plans, there is no confusion or lack of information that can be required when building a landscape.

Share This Page