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Med to Large Job in a Small Yard?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,576

    In our area, builders are building HUGE homes on small lots. Lots where there is only 15 to 20 feet between the dwellings. Factor in the A/C units and the passage way to the backyard becomes tighter. Thus, making it difficult for a skid steer that is 72" wide to pass through without protruding on the adjoining property.

    We have skid steers that are what I call medium size. They lift 3000 pounds. The Gehl weighs around 6800 pounds, the Cat weighs about 7200 pounds. We have these machines for ease in off loading 3,000# pallets from trucks. As well as the fact that they can carry a little over 1/2 cu yd of material.

    At the moment, we dont have the need for a compact walk behind or stand behind loader. They are too expensive considering the demand isn't strong enough to justify buying one.

    Last week I priced a patio for a home that has approximately 18-20 feet between them and the neighboring dwelling.

    I closely looked at what it would take for us to get our machine in the backyard, traversing from the street, and along the side yard.

    Depending on soil condistion (wet or dry) it looks like we may damage about 12-30 inches of the adjoining property's yard. If it's dry, we may only damage barely a foot.

    When we have done jobs like this is the past, I have had the adjoining property owner sign a waiver stating they're aware we're working there, they're aware we may damage their lawn, that we'll repair ALL our damages, and that our client will be responsible for watering their repairs.

    So today I followed up with this prospective client to see if they're going to use us or not. She was very nice. But she said "truthfully, we're very impressed with your work but we're not comfortable with your practices. You said you may damage the neighbor's lawn, and that they must sign a waiver. We'd rather use a contractor that can do the work without involving the neighbors".

    I explained that we will make all necessary repairs, and that she may call our other clients whom we have had to protrude on the adjoining properties, and find out how the process went overall.

    If we were to rent a smaller machine, I'm guessing it would take at least 40% longer to do the work. We'd have to break down the pallets of materials, as a smaller machine won't lift/carry a full pallet. It would take longer to move the spoils from the backyard to the street to be hauled away, and it would take longer to get the base aggregate from the street to the back yard.

    I told her "we can bring in a smaller machine, but it's going to require additional man hours, meaning the job will cost you more money than proposed".

    I estimated that approximately 65,000 pounds of material are required for the job. This includes 20 tons of CR8, 3 tons of concrete sand, 4 pallets of pavers, and 5 cubic yards of screened top soil (for regrading). For a SMALL lot....thats alotta material!

    I am slightly annoyed with these people. Are we to have everything helicoptered or craned into the back yard?? But on the otherhand I'm thinking "well, you can't please EVERYONE, they're probably people we shouldn't be doing work for".

    How are you handeling such situations where the dwellings are nearly touching each other and large quantities of material are needed?
  2. GroundScapesIncorporated

    GroundScapesIncorporated LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 386

    We have run into similar situations, and just verbally agreed to fix any damges. I know that this is not the correct way to handle the situation, but the other guys that price the job you are referring to are possibly not going to ask the neighbor to sign anything. You are possibly just scaring them a little. My advice, maybe bad advice, but if you want the job I would personally forget about the waiver and go to work.
  3. GroundScapesIncorporated

    GroundScapesIncorporated LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 386

    I would also go out of my way to make sure the neighbors stay happy.

    If you are on your skid steer and you see the neighbor come out to get the trash while you are working, cut the skid steer off and go say hi.
    Over exceed their expectations with freindlyness and fixing their yard.
  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    this was the main reason we bought our dingo.

    as for moving the material, we have a 1/4 yard bucket, and with the maneuverability, it does not take that much longet to move the base, etc...

    the pallets will need to be broken down into 1/3.
    this does not take more than 10 minutes per pallet.

    depending on how long it takes you to repair the dammage it may be worth it.
  5. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,649

    I ve been in the same boat. Now im bidding a job that will recquire destroying neighbors yard and will price it in. The homeowner realizes that he will have to pay me to put it back lkq. There is no choice in the matter. I nor my my staff is going to wheel barrow 200 ton of material out and handcarry 300 block 75' down a hill. If your competion cares too let them do it.I had a wall job last fall i turned down, back yard dropped 75' to a level area where they wanted a 24' high wall and fill in . The only problem nothing can fit between houses besdes a wheel barrow and bottom side actually goes in to a cliff. There would be the need for a large excavator but cant fit. The women give me crap for not bidding it, my best advise was to sell the house and move to a descent lot. Her responce was they just bought the house.
  6. PAPS Landscape Design

    PAPS Landscape Design LawnSite Member
    from us
    Messages: 81

    i would just verbally agree to fix the neighbor property and wouldnt get all caught up in that. giving the prospective client a wavier is just going to scare them.. just tell the neighbor and the client that you will fix whatever is damaged and leave it at that, its not working losing a big job over, even figure in new sod for the neighbors portion maybe? but dont get all wrapped up in that...

    also.. why cant you put down plywood on the neighbors portion of the property?
  7. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,576


    that I can't do. I can't just have my guys taking 10,000# over someone elses property without their concent. I hate surprises, so I assume others would too.

    Most of our clients live in new homes. homes that average $700k and up. Most people spend all kinds of money getting their lawns lush and green, and wouldn't be too happy to come to their lawn all rutted up, especially in the spring when the soil is wet.

    Plus, our name is on our yard signs, skid steers, and trucks. That wouldn't reflect too well.

    i'd rather loose the job than create enemies. in new neighborhoods - word spreads fast.
  8. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,929

    I don't think anyone is saying "just do it" I believe the consensus is talk to the neighbor and leave out the waivers and forms. Now, if the neighbor doesn't agree...move on!

  9. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

  10. PSDF350

    PSDF350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    I must say the more I read your post the more respect I gain for you. You are doing it the right way. Either they want you to do the job or they dont. Dont compromise your principles for a few bucks. Ain't worth it always comes back to bite you in the ass. I know if I was the neighbor and these other yahoos just started rutting and ruining my lawn (it ain't no $700,000 home either) I would be pissed and work wouldn't get finished threw my yard. A little common courtesy goes a long way. Sorry of no help. But one thing you could say is the reason your work is so nice is your attention to details. Like keeping neighbors happy.

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