Pricing a pond

Discussion in 'Water Features' started by Lawnboy112, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. Lawnboy112

    Lawnboy112 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 89

    I have a cutomer that wants a koi pond built for them. The want it to be 27'x40' I told them i dont know if i am able to do a job that size, but ill see what i can do. They want 3 waterfalls too. What should i charge?
  2. WeatherMan

    WeatherMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 692

    Koi ponds are alot of work, I think I will let Victor help you on this one
  3. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    Tell them no. Tell them you can't do it. The logistics that go along with building a koi pond of that size are daunting! There are so many obstacles and headaches that come with making a koi pond of that size, that you'd be doing yourself a huge favor by avoiding a project like that.

    Lets look at a few of the problems you'd be faced with.

    The first thing that I think about when designing a koi pond is the cost of the project. How much will this thing cost to build? A properly designed and constructed koi pond of those dimensions could easily end up costing $60,000, or more. If I were to make a pond like that. By the time I was done designing it, purchasing all the supplies for it and putting all the pieces together, they'd probably be looking at close to $80,000. Sure you could construct it for less than that, but I'm talking about a pond that will provide good aesthetics, one that won't be a maintenance nightmare, and also at the same time provide good water quality for years to come.

    Do you know how big the pumps for a pond like that would be if they were properly sized? Properly sized bio filters are supposed to turn over your pond's water volume approximately once every hour. Depending on the shape and depth of a pond like that, you could be looking at roughly 55,000 gallons of water to filter. Do you know what kind of pumps you'd need to turn over that much water an hour? Just imagine how much they'd cost. Not only that, but imagine how pumps like that would make an electric meter spin!

    We haven't even started talking about the price of the filters yet. There are so many filtration systems out there, you'd have a lot of choices. All I can say about the cost of a filtration system that's properly sized to handle that much water every hour is get that check book ready. It would not be fun to install either. It's not just the cost of the system, but the pipe you'd have to use for an installation like that would not be fun to deal with either. Believe me. You wouldn't be running 4" pipe on a system like that Buddy. Pipe that would be big enough fo a system like that would be awfully pricey! You sure would need one whole heck of a lot of it too! Just buying the fittings alone for pipe that big would be a killer. For a project like that one, you'd be insane not to use a UV sterilizer system in your plans. To give you an example, my sterilizer is rated for a 4000 gallon koi pond and it cost me close to $500. Imagine how much money it would take to buy one that's rated for roughly 14 times the amount of water. See where I'm going with this?

    You'd also have the price of the excavation to deal with. Not only would you have to dig the hole, but you'd have to get rid of the soil you excavated. 280 yards of dirt isn't cheap to dispose of, nor pull out of the ground. You'd also have a nice chunk of change wrapped up in a liner for a pond that size don't forget.

    After all of this is said and done, can you imagine the cost of the rock you'd have to purchase for the thing? Especially when you consider the fact that they want three waterfalls running on the thing. It sure would take a lot of rock to make a pond like that look half way respectable.

    There are other price considerations that I havent even touched on here. There's no real need to.

    The final thing to I'm going to tell you about a project like this is something that I'm not sure if you have thought about. When you build a pond like that. You're pretty much married to the people you construct it for, for a long time. After it's up and running. Whenever they have even the smallest problem with it. Guess who they're going to call? YOU!!!!!!!!!! After paying you as much money as they'd have to pay you to build the thing, they're going to expect one heck of a lot of service from you. If a pump goes down, if a leak developes, if the flow's not right..that's all going to come back on you. Are you prepared to donate a lot of free time? They're not going to expect to have to pay for any of these service calls after paying you so much money to build it for them. They're going to expect it to operate flawlessly for at least a year at the minimum. It's a sad fact of life that people like that often don't do nearly enough research on something like this before they have one built. They often figure that you're the expert, so why should they educate themselves. That also means that they will call you wilth the simplest of questions that they themselves should know the answers to, but don't.The fact that you don't know how to figure up an estimate on a project like this and don't know if you can build it should answer your question for you.

    If I were you Lawnboy. I wouldn't touch that project with a 40' by 27' pole!

    I really hope I helped you out here.

  4. Liberty Lawncare

    Liberty Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 484

    :eek: :eek: :confused: :cry: :cry: ;) NO WAY TRY THAT.
  5. Liberty Lawncare

    Liberty Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 484

    On second thought charge them 150,000and sub out the digging and pump work :cool:
  6. qualpro

    qualpro LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    I would think that the BIG jobs are where you can really make the BIG bucks. Why would anyone want to backup at that? Find out what the customers budget is. Do your homework on the estimate. Power equipment will be needed, decide if you will rent or sub-contract. If you sub-contract callemÂ’ out and get a quote. Call your parts supplier, they should help with the filtration engineering and may even give a man hour estimate on install.

    Just my 2 cents
  7. Tim Canavan

    Tim Canavan LawnSite Member
    from Houston
    Messages: 218

    I'm with qualpro on this one. Contract out the stuff that you can't handle. There's only one way to learn. your supplier should be able to point you in the right direction.
  8. bleabold

    bleabold LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    If you are honest with the customer, find out what they are willing to spend, do your homework, and find reliable subs you should be good to go.

    If you dont atleast try you wont learn how to do something. Of course it wont be easy or perfect, but the next one will be easier and better.
  9. Green Gopher

    Green Gopher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    I agree with victor this job would be filled with problems.

    On the other hand assuming you have the man power, time in your own schedule, and most important you can verify the client has the funds to pay for this lake don't jump ship so soon. You can build this one step at a time and keep your clients "in the Loop" by telling them you have never built anything this large before. In the end, you may end up with an amazing advertising piece for your company. A pond this large will set you apart from your competition. I have done a two commercial water features and during the bid process the first question from both clients was "what is the largest water feature you have built?" I'm sure you could beat most of us on that one.

    If client funding becomes a problem you don't have to build all the waterfalls in the beginning. Just make sure you leave room in the pump plans and piping for the other two falls. I personally don't like to do a job if the client can't pay for the whole thing, but I haven't build a lake before either.

    Good luck, let us know what happens.
  10. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    boy do you guys have alot to learn.

    here's the problem. if your estimate on a $500.00 is off by 10% that's $50.00. you could eat that no problem

    same 10% on an 80K job and it's $8K. much larger chunk.
    also the bigger the job the easier it is to mis bid.

    taking on a job like this one (ESPECIALLY AS YOUR FIRST INSTALLATION) is a good way to bankrupt your business.

    the largest pond we have done is a $25K. we made the jump from $8-10K ponds. the headaches were fivefold.

    you need an experienced crew to do this kind of job.


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