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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I few days ago I completed a job for someone and they weren’t the happiest with it. I quoted them for $860 (they did pay me for the work already). They asked to have all the everything cut down and all the stumps grinded because they want to put grass seed or sod in the yard (they also specified no poison could be used to kill any of the weeds). As you see it seems like a fair amount of work. In total it took my friend and I 6 hours to complete (not including drive time). Afterwards they complained that 860 was too much since I didn’t completely get rid of the roots and vines from the yard since they want to put grass there (see before & after pics). They suggested I use a garden tiller and that apparently they should’ve hired the person that was going to do it for $300. I was able to explain everything and why I charged what I did and they might have taken my explanation, but I know they don’t agree with it at all

I’m not sure if 860 was too much, how much would some of y’all have charged? I know for sure I don’t know anyone who would do all of that for 300.
 

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I think most people have extremely unrealistic expectations for things like "planting grass".
They think you just wave a magic wand, throw down $10 worth of grass seed, and it's going to be a beautiful lawn in a week.
That said, it does look like there are a TON of vines/scraggly roots across the surface after the job was finished.
If they wanted to plant grass, is it ready for planting grass, or does a lot more work need to be done?
It's really hard to comment as I don't know what was communicated, and/or how well it was all communicated.

Looking at the house in general, it seems like ANYTHING that costs them $800 is kind of a big deal.
 

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That looks like a ton of work for $800. We'd have likely been $1500+ just on the cleanup. I wouldn't have committed to job without chemical use otherwise we wouldn't guarantee they'd be ready for seed. We'd have sold them on tilling or power raking as well. Then soil (maybe) and then then seed + fert + amendments. This other work would have been additional to the cleanup price.
 

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If you can’t provide accurate scope description and manage expectations, nothing wrong with giving hourly rates and rough estimates. Then if they want more detailed cleanup you say I can continue at X per hour. That’s how we do these weird cleanups because never know what’s considered finished
 

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Very fair, the right equipment for the right job is why it was completed so fast. Things aren’t going to just never grow without sprays. Seed asap and mow to keep the junk down is the only way to have it look nice imo. You could weed wack the whole thing quick and blow/ rake it up to get rid of the low growers.
 

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From what I can gather it's not really the price but more of the fact that the job wasn't done to their satisfaction.

The initial cleanup looks good. The soil prep for seed doesn't. Clear all the vines and roots out. You did agree to do that.
 

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The city never got on them for letting things go that far? If it was 12 man-hours on site I would be around $900 plus drivetime to the job and to the dump plus a disposal fee based on est cubic yards of debris. So at least $1100.
 

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Uhm...

To make this right I'd consider calling Miss Utility to have them mark all utility lines. Then go in with a tiller and till up the whole area. Last but not least smooth it all out and make it as flat as possible with a landscaper rake. That would be a 2-4 hour job from my experience.

Whether grass will ever truly grow right is another story, but that would make it ready for seeding.

Unfortunately this is the flipside of what happens when jobs you got paid for in advance go south, the good news is you got paid but now you have a disgruntled customer on your hands. You can take your chances and hope word of mouth repercussions are minimal, or take responsibility for the results and see about making it right.

As well this is just my opinion, you don't have to agree with me.
 

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It looks like you had productive equipment on hand, how much rental and landfill expense did you have for this job? based on the pictures there was a lot of clearing done for the money. However based on the information you provided the customer was expecting to have a ready to plant grass job, Sidemouse has good advice- can you consider this job a good learning experience and build your reputation by making it right with the customers expectations?

I tilled a yard this year that was cleared of trees around it’s perimeter The tiller dug out a crazy amount of roots so that was not the best choice. Had I done a better job of questioning beforehand it would have been better to Harley Rake it. It was a good teaching moment!

As you had ground out stumps you may run into the same situation if It is tilled.
 

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You are going to have an unbelievable mess on your hands if you try to till that all up. You need to convince the customer to let it start to grow back, then spray what's left and slice seed it once it all dies. That was a $3000 plus job to do it right.
I do agree, there was the issue of root system of all the vines that was overlooked or not taken into account. There is still the issue of whether the soil is in any condition to grow grass even once that is done, not to mention the abundant shade I see... It is quite possible the customer has no idea about these, and it should have been taken into account and at the least discussed with the customer before even starting... That this area would take a major overhaul to get it ready to take seed, it's not the germination I'm concerned with, but rather the long term result.

I do believe in this case customer ignorance of the particulars played a huge role in this disaster but also inexperience on both the customer's and the service provider's side prevented either of them from foreseeing this... Or perhaps the service provider simply did as the customer wanted, which isn't entirely a bad idea when considering the price factor.

Granted, then we get what we pay for but with some people that is exactly what needs to happen in order for learning to take place. That being said, I suggested tilling as a solution since it's comparatevely inexpensive and at the customer's suggestion, simply to get out of this mess somewhat unscathed. I certainly do not believe that tilling is a good solution, for one it will destroy the soil's firm foundation and thus foot traffic will be rather intolerable. As well tilling isn't exactly conducive for mowing later, it will leave ruts and unevenness of a scale that will make mowing a difficult process. However, you can plant seed in it and again the customer suggested it so I would take this route as a way out, for the time being.

Sorry for the long wind, respect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think most people have extremely unrealistic expectations for things like "planting grass".
They think you just wave a magic wand, throw down $10 worth of grass seed, and it's going to be a beautiful lawn in a week.
That said, it does look like there are a TON of vines/scraggly roots across the surface after the job was finished.
If they wanted to plant grass, is it ready for planting grass, or does a lot more work need to be done?
It's really hard to comment as I don't know what was communicated, and/or how well it was all communicated.

Looking at the house in general, it seems like ANYTHING that costs them $800 is kind of a big deal.
You’re right, there was a ton of vines and scraggly roots that I didn’t know were there after blowing off the top layer of leaves. I recommended getting a mini excavator or tractor with a back hoe to til the yard up and get the roots to make it semi suitable for grass. This is a house they bought to rent out to people so they aren’t struggling that bad financially.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well it sure doesn't look ready to install a lawn if that's what they want to do. So now what are they supposed to do? And what's with those cinder blocks?
I told them that if they really wanted grass I’d recommend renting a mini excavator to til up the ground and get those roots out. The cinder blocks are actually quite the nuisance. I guess they were put in as a barrier by the previous owner, but they asked me to remove them and I found out that they are all held together by mortar, they go 2 blocks deep into the ground, that they’re about 17 ft long, and under the sidewalk.
 

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If they keep bringing up this $300 guy, I would let them know there is 0% chance he was going to do more than you did. Explain to them how these types of jobs is very difficult to estimate and its your bad for not explaining the scope or how far you thought you would get for that price. But I think in situations like this you can work with them and do a bit more work, give a bit of a discount. The $860 for 12 man hours doesn't sound like you have actually taken a bit of a loss on it yet. If someone was really unhappy, I would probably have just done another couple hours and made them happy, then learn from it for the next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
From what I can gather it's not really the price but more of the fact that the job wasn't done to their satisfaction.

The initial cleanup looks good. The soil prep for seed doesn't. Clear all the vines and roots out. You did agree to do that.
You have a good point. That’s where my dilemma was. Even after going there in person to give the quote, I still wasn’t expecting to find all of those vines, roots, etc underneath after cleaning everything out. I think I could get it prepped for cheap if they would let me use weed/plant killer, but I can’t and I don’t want to have to charge them a lot more money by having to rent some equipment to tear up the yard to yard done since they already aren’t the happiest with the price.
 

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This definitely was a 3k job though and 'a couple bins and excavator may have been better originally. Sure they aren't happy but they need to realize they got a fair deal. The fact they even had quotes for $300 shows they are looking on craigslist and other local marketplace sites. They also aren't completely stupid because they didn't hire the $300 guy because they knew he was incompetent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It looks like you had productive equipment on hand, how much rental and landfill expense did you have for this job? based on the pictures there was a lot of clearing done for the money. However based on the information you provided the customer was expecting to have a ready to plant grass job, Sidemouse has good advice- can you consider this job a good learning experience and build your reputation by making it right with the customers expectations?

I tilled a yard this year that was cleared of trees around it’s perimeter The tiller dug out a crazy amount of roots so that was not the best choice. Had I done a better job of questioning beforehand it would have been better to Harley Rake it. It was a good teaching moment!

As you had ground out stumps you may run into the same situation if It is tilled.
I paid $165 for the stump grinder, $133 for the bush hog, $37 for dumping the debris, and 155 miles total between (not each) 2 of my trucks which ended up being $86 in fuel which is $421 total. And then you can even include the $150 I paid my friend that helped. Yes that was the idea to have it ready for some grass. I’m not completely free of blame in this though. I should have inspected the stuff under all of the green vines and leaves better, but it was hard to tell the extent of it. Had I known what I know now, I would’ve just suggested not attempting to put grass down unless they wanted to spend a lot more money than they wanted. I won’t be going back potentially fix/ finish it though, we got into an argument over hauling off the cinder blocks that are in the front yard and I would rather not deal with them anymore.
 
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