questions on new retaining wall build

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by andyslawncare, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    Got a call from a guy today that lives on the top of a hill looking down towards a nice lake. He wants to build at least 1 retaining wall in the back yard as it is a steep drop and turf is not growing very well near the top. Proposed is to build a 122' long 4' tall wall across the entire property and to back fill and regrade turf area at top to be more level. We will be yanking out and grinding over 20 stumps on the hill side and grade and replant area under wall. At the bottom of the hill near an access street, he wants to build another wall 122' long and 4' high instead of sloping hill towards street as steeply. He also wants to build a staircase going from the top of the hill where the first wall is down to the service street because his boat dock and the lake is across the service street and down another hill.

    The lower wall is being questioned because it will be 2' below the Georgia Power pole and 2' behind a fire hydrant. I will call the city tomorrow and find out what we are allowed to do near them.

    The upper wall will go mostly straight across just above where the Georgia Power pole's support lines are.

    The homeowner said he would supply the blocks since he has found his own supplier of what he likes. I'm ok with that. I figured It would take a full day to prep the hillside for a wall, another day to get the base dug and created, and at least a day and a half?...maybe longer to build the walls, another day to back fill and compact everything, another day to landscape the hill and lay sod in the back of the property, and another day for possibly planting the foundation to his new home. so 6.5-7+ days of work!! I figured 10 hr days $95/hr = $6175-6650+ + MATERIALS: crusher run/soil - $1000 Machine expense: $1500 Fuel/truck charge: $350 + Sod: ~10 pallets-$750 + Plants & Trees: $2500-4000? = around $12,750-14,275

    I must say, this is the largest landscaping job I've bid on so far...

    I really do not have a lot of experience in building walls on a slope like this or grading on a steep slope either!! Any advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks for reading.

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  2. B&M

    B&M LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 333

    The water and power are going to be any issue to work around. What size crew are you running? Will you be renting equipment?
  3. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Power poles and hydrants are not generally located on private property.

    There is no way that you are going to build 844 face feet of wall with two or three guys within a week, never mind doing the landscape as well.

    You might be a little over your head on this one. The wall itself should be a $30,000 job with you suppllying the materials.

    You should also be concerned with property lines and any possible conservation permitting being that close to a pond. Sometimes jurisdiction can go 100' or more from a resource area and some resource areas can be banks not just the water itself.
  4. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Have you looked at a survey plat of the property? That may answer the questions AGLA brings up regarding property lines, easements, and setbacks.

    Your estimate of the labor hours involved is... optimistic. And very light.
  5. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    I'm planning on working with a friend that owns a lot of machinery, so my crew will only be focused on the construction of the graded hillside. The lake is across the street and down another long hill...The street winds up the hill and the street at the bottom of the back yard is the same street that brings you to the front of his property it is over 200' to the lake from where the proposed wall will go.

    IT seems like we are leaning more towards only building the upper wall as my client just told me there is a 12' easement on the back of his property. So its gonna only be 488 face ft at most. The customer is supplying the wall block. He has picked out 82lb solid versa lock blocks. We will still need to supply gravel, soil, sod, plants, etc.

    I originally thought 3 guys would get it done..., but I will have no problem have 4-6 guys on the job...

    Thanks for the replies
  6. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    as everything else seems to have been covered by other posts, my only concern is where he's getting his block from.

    Whenever I do a project with stone I always supply the materials so I can oversee quality control. In the past when I've let my clients pickup their own materials I inevitably run into problems of things being broken, or of lesser quality, or something unforseen that makes the job go slower b/c the homeowner wanted to save a few bucks.
  7. ARGOS

    ARGOS LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,808

    Ditto. This stood out to me like a sore thumb. I don't use customer's materials unless I can see them prior to the job. You may be buying a future bandaid that you own.
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    This is not a job where hours of labor determine the price. There is a great deal of liability with this project. Modular block walls average at about $40 or so per face foot when done by professional installers. The reason is noy only that it takes some training, some equipment (not that much), and mostly the burden of liability.

    The homeowner is trying to save a bunch of money by buying the block himself, hiring a lawn mowing company at a small hourly rate, and avoiding any expenses he can.

    If you built these all the time, you'd know how much base material and backfill material you'd need, how long it would take to set up the base course, you'd also know that you need to backfill and compact as you build (not after), drainage piping, lot line issues, and that with any of these things you can run into the unexpected that will blow up costs after you start the job.

    The only ways you should work on this project is with a contract stating that the homeowner is acting as the general contractor and that you are supplying the labor and equipment to build it under his direction, .... or for you to contract the entire job charging full price to cover the unexpected, labor, materials, PROFIT, and liability.
  9. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    Well I am educated on retaining walls and other features... I know that I need to compact as I back-fill, I know how to build a base, I know how to calculate materials, I know about drainage behind the wall, and I know how I want the wall to look when I'm done.

    I just haven't worked on a project this size before. That is why I am bringing in another professional who happens to have more experience to help me and my crew. In my eyes, the only way to truly learn the skills involved is to build the wall and make myself available to do similar work. Some jobs I've lost money and some I've more than made up for the mistakes on previous jobs.

    How much insurance would you suggest having before taking on a job this size?
    I think we are covered for $500,000 or $1,000,000 right now...I'll have to check.

    I've seen the block that he is talking about, he had one of them to show me. It is a solid block.

    I still haven't told him a final price... Me and the other contractor are meeting out there later this evening to discuss it.
  10. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Your pricing does not reflect the experience you speak of. Your time estimate is not even close - a day and a half for almost 1,000 face feet of wall construction? That is almost 1,500 versalok blocks.

    $1,000 for soil and crusher run for 244 linear feet 4' high?

    Dig out or grind 20 stumps? no geogrid? lay 5,000 sf of sod? trees & shrubs?

    This is extremely unrealistic.

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