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New Paver patio bid

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by harryhomeowner, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. harryhomeowner

    harryhomeowner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 140


    I am planning on having a paver patio installed at my home. As you can tell by my name I like to do things myself but, I am smart enough to know when something is beyond my energy/skill level.

    I estimate this project at 450 SF. and it includes a small retaining wall.

    I want to make an "Apple-to-Apples" comparison of lanscape contractors.

    Therefore, my question: Is it in poor form to ask 3-4 contractors to come out, at the same time, while I describe exactly what I want.

    The reason for this fashion is, what if the second guy offers a better grade of paver than the first or comes up with a great idea, then I have to call back the first guy and try to explain this idea.

    Of course I will offer up this project to members of Lawnsite.com primarily as I do believe that I will get a better grade of landscaper than by exclusively looking in the yellow pages.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
  2. WhohasHelios?

    WhohasHelios? LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    That is a very commercial type approach to a bidding process, but I guess if they are all legitimate, experienced contractors, none of them will find it very odd that they are not having the one on one with you.

    That being said, time and time again, homeowners tell me that I was not the only one bidding on the job and that I was not chosen for my pricing. I was usually chosen for the fact that I will come out to the job when I say I am going to and spend a little more time with them than some people would have. When I leave them that day, they feel confident that I am honest, making a decent living and doing great work that I stand behind.

    If I was called to a job with four other contractors, I know that all of the above would have very little to do with the selection process and that my pricing is the only real objective.

    I like your desire to go about it this way, however I think for a small patio like that you want to get more of a feel for WHO is doing the job. I would say call a few companies and ask if they have a flat rate per square foot for paving. Then call two contractors at seperate times and explain what you would like.

    Good luck!

  3. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Messages: 2,702


    I think you'll be able to judge each contractor better by speaking with them individually. If I were in the position of one of the contractors, I would be less apt to share ideas, techniques and design options while standing shoulder to shoulder with my competition.

    As Helios stated, this is more of a commerical approach, where all the other intangibles don't matter and the "winner" is selected soley on price.
  4. Markf

    Markf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 406

    I agree with Greenmonster. One contractor can pick up on your vibes or body language easy enough when someone answers your question. Now the others know what or what not to say. You then may not get a straight answer. My 2 cents.
  5. lawnboy30

    lawnboy30 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 92

    Hello Harry,

    I personally prefer to come and meet the prospective customer and survey the land myself. As a contractor, I know what to look for in the ground contours, drainage problems, "unforseen" concern areas, etc. These are things that can not be determined by only getting total square footage from the prospect. Also, when pavers are concerned depending on the design and layout your square footage measurement may not be accurate. How many cuts, difficulty in going around any obstacles.

    I would recommend that you ask the landscaper to come and see for themselves.

  6. harryhomeowner

    harryhomeowner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 140


    I think their is a misunderstanding. In my scenario I would invite the contractors to come on site and give bids on the work. But, since I don't have an exact idea of what I want, i.e. X brand paver, in a Herringbone layout, w/ a Y brand retaining wall block Z ft. high. I'd be better served hearing from the professionals what they recommend.

    After viewing the responses I believe I will meet with the contractors 1 on 1 in order to get a feel for their work ethic and style.

  7. lawnboy30

    lawnboy30 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 92

    Sorry. That is best. Ask to see a portfolio of their work. Or visit some stone providers on line and check out their galleries. You can find nice combinations that way and you will be somewhat educated as to what type of paver you are interested in and in which color matches.
  8. MidAtlantic

    MidAtlantic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    For commercial jobs contractors have no problem attending a prebid meeting, that is how the industry has always been. I dont think the contractors will be very responsive to a residential prebid meeting, its just not the norm. These guys won't have the chance to pitch themselves and products the way they are use to. Plus commercial prebid meetings have drawings, specifications and material selections already figured out. You will find plenty of local guys who will come out and give you a free estimate. Most guys around here use Belgard & Hanover and you will find a select few that use EP. EP is sold as the top of the line product around here. There are a couple stone yards (falls church, sterling, manasas) where you can go and see the various product lines. Go and see what you like..

    Being a homeowner do yourself a favor and do a little more research to determine what you like. Bottom line is you have to live with it. You will find that most these products are similar just in different color shades and shapes.

    If you decide to have a prebid meeting please email me I would love to come by and sit back and watch the other guys beat each other up over who does the best work and which product is better. In the end you will most likely be in the same situation you were in to begin with. At least you would be able to weed a couple out.

    Good luck,
  9. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    I have to agree that it is better to meet with each company individually unless you want to witness a bunch of boasting and one-upsmanship. The other thing that is likely to happen is that contractors aren't going to want to share too much information or creative ideas with their competition. Also,the market in Northern VA is such that contractors don't have to take any and every job that is available. If finding the right company that you feel comfortable working with is important, then spend the time doing the individual meetings. There are more elements than the price per square foot to be considered. Some companies take more care to clean up and restore the turf and mulch beds when the project is finished. Some are easier to reach to talk to.
  10. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

    "I dont think the contractors will be very responsive to a residential prebid meeting" BINGO

    Here is a thought...how about the homeowner do some leg work. Fat chance anyone is going to have a pow wow with fellow landscapers. Could end in tears.

    You bring up an interesting point though. Invite contractors to a dutch auction to bid on your job. If only it were that easy. Mowing bids are dutch auctions.

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