Need help on pricing hardscape jobs (New England)

Discussion in 'Bidding, Estimating and Pricing' started by Benjamin Short, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Benjamin Short

    Benjamin Short LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    After 9 yrs doing hardscapes/ landscaping I am going off on my own. I am starting out with a pickup truck and trailer and the basic tools. I have all the knowledge of building these projects. The problem is... I don't know how to quote them. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    -what is the price per sq/ft for laying pavers? Is that price including the material or just labor? *I know prices can range*
    -same question as above for walls.
    -what is the average charge for labor for miscellaneous parts of the job? Clean up, loaming/seeding etc...

    Feel free to add to it anything you think I should know. Thanks again for ANY advice!

    JLSLLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,697

    Where are you in New England?
  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,019

    Oh this thread again?

    9 years experience and you don't have the slightest clue on how long it will take to do a project?

    Either you don't have the experience you think you have or you are thinking there's some magic secret to pricing.

    There isn't.

    How long will it take your crew to do the project for Mrs. Jones?
    With 9 years of doing this, it can't be different than a dozen others of similar type and style that you've done before.

    3 guys four days?
    8 hour days, that's 24 hours a day times 4 or 96 man hours.

    how much do you need to charge per hour?
    How much did you get paid doing this work for someone else?
    $22/hr? Double that then add 50%
    44 x 1.5 = 66.
    how did i come up with that number?
    Thin air.
    Why that number? Because Im not going to retype a book on how to find your costs and $/hr...its been printed 100 times in just the last 5 years.
    Truth is, you're not ready to do this on your own if in nine years you can't do pricing.

    But if you're stubborn enough, start with the simple math above.

    if you come up with 96 man hours for the project, add 20% for variance on weather and unexpected delays.

    so 115 man hours, times 66 = $7,603.00
    PLUS procurement and delivery of materials (which you're not going to do in your pick up truck)

    Then you need to figure all your material for the job.

    two pallets of block? 900 bucks?
    4 yards of sand? 160 bucks?
    crushed rock 10 yards? 400 bucks?
    delivery charge , 200?
    equipment rental with drop off and pick up 1000 per day times 3 days?
    Fuel 120?
    add it all up.
    Add 7603 to 4780 =12383, then add 20% for profit.

    Another way to check it is to add up the all job costs and multiply by three.
    4780 x 3 = 14,340.00
    magically close huh?
    Lazy man's estimating.

    It's not the right way to do it, but It'll get you started.

    How long will it take? how much materials delivered to the sight do I need? Add fudge factor and profit.

    Seriously, If I had a guy for 9 years and he couldn't estimate a job yet, I'd probably get rid of him.
    Jonny Travieso and hort101 like this.
  4. hort101

    hort101 LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from S.E. New England
    Messages: 17,613

    I agree with you TP on the rest good advice Thumbs UpThumbs Up

    The only thing is sometimes workers are purposely limited by the owner or manager from the$$ side of the businessThumbs Up
    Kennedylawns likes this.
  5. OP
    Benjamin Short

    Benjamin Short LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Thanks good advice first of all. Second of all you don't need to talk to me like that. You don't know my situation. I absolutely know how long a job will take, but I idn't know how to Bill for it. I never had to deal with the money side of things. My boss I worked for wasn't going to tell me how much money he was making or tell me how to quote so I could leave him and make my own business, at the same time possibly taking business from him. If my question pissed you off so bad, you didn't have to answer.
    wishfull likes this.
  6. OP
    Benjamin Short

    Benjamin Short LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,019

    Billing is different than quoting a price

    Your boss never held you accountable for meeting a time line?
    A foreman needs to know how long he has to complete a task
    After years of doing it you know how long it takes to plant a tree, install a 400 square foot patio.

    Knowing how long something takes IS estimating
    They never had you responsible for calling for materials?
    “I need 4 yards of crushed gravel for tomorrow morning?”
    You would have to know how long and how much to operate/run the job.

    So if you know how long it will take
    And how much material you need
    Then that’s the battle right there.

    I absolutely know your situation
    It’s no secret
    I’ve been training and teaching in this industry for decades
    I interview 100s of applicants a year

    I rarely if ever meet people who can do what they say/think they can do.
    Only less famous than “never fight a land war in Asia” is “I know how to run a skid steer”
    Which actually translates into
    “I want a job where you pay me lots to learn to sit in a skid steer all day and never get out of it, while other people do the labor”

    When you’re actually thrown in the arena and forced to do it all on your own, suddenly that experience evaporates.

    All estimating/sales comes from field experience
    No amount of office hovering will make one a good estimator.

    So with that being said
    9 years means you know how long it will take and how much material you will need.

    Get pricing from your vendors (people you’re going to buy stuff from)
    Try to apply for some sort of in-house credit
    Although being new it’s dubious if you will get any, hopefully some net 30 terms.

    When you get a job
    You will want a 1/3 deposit from the customer once they sign the agreement/contract.
    This is to order/buy the materials for your job.
    On the day the job is to begin, you will arrive with your equipment and materials and you will need 1/3 then as well.
    This is to pay operating costs (like weekly payroll and fuel)
    When the job is complete you will get the final 1/3 of the payment
    This is to cover any final payroll, pay yourself and company profit.

    See why materials times three works as a quick estimate figure now?

    Make sure you follow those guidelines
    Otherwise customers will stiff you and your left with a job finished and owing money for material and labor.
    Do not move forward with work until payment deadlines are made.

    No money
    No honey
    hort101 likes this.
  8. OP
    Benjamin Short

    Benjamin Short LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Good advice, thank you for taking the time to explain. I'm not applying for a job with you so I'm not blowing smoke. I know the labor side of the business really well. I'm not going to lie, I'm scared to death to go out on my own. I have had a security blanket for the last 9 yrs. I show up to the supply yard, get loaded with whatever I need and leave. I had all the supplies, tools and machines I needed. I'm good with customers but I'm not a salesman. I am determined to succeed at this though. Thanks again!!
    hort101 likes this.
  9. AWilsonCreativeServices

    AWilsonCreativeServices LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 304

    An aside- being new to the forum, you may feel that the probing post by TPendegast was an attack and/or an unwarranted dissection of your first potential job. However, once you spend some time nosing around the different threads, you will begin to learn that TPendegast dishes his opinion without any sugar on top- good, bad, or ugly. You'll also learn that he has a large body of experience to draw on, and that he blows less smoke than it may seem. While he's quite opinionated, he's like that specific coach, college professor, or business mentor many of us have; we may not always like to hear what they have to say, but often it's spot-on and they push you to be better, smarter, stronger.

    Welcome to the forum. I read a lot more than I post, and I can tell you this- bring your thick skin to help absorb the blows, bring your big knife to cut through the bulls**t that the morons often spew, and bring your notepad to jot down the many insightful comments, ideas, and hard-learned lessons of the people here who actually make this forum worth sifting through.

    P.S. sorry to jump in, as I don't have any real hardscape experience. Just thought I'd mention the above^
    hort101 likes this.
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,019

    Maybe you know more than you think you know?

    Building it
    Running the guys
    Ordering the materials
    Making budget
    Making money
    That’s it

    If you have done that successfully
    Pricing it is just math
    The number is the number
    The price is the price
    There is no magic to it.

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