What do you use for estimates?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by 1BadHawk, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. 1BadHawk

    1BadHawk LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    When working up an estimate for either pavers or walls, what do you all use in the way of forms? Do you have pre written legal documents with disclosures and or warranties, or do you simply outline materials/equipment/& labor.

    For lawn care and small landscaping I dont bother much with legal documents or contracts. Most of my work is done verbally, with a written estimate of materials/labor. For snowplowing, though, I do use a contract in a sense, that it discloses a lot of legalality items. Just wondering if stepping it up to hardscapes requires some coverage on my behalf in the way of providing an estimate.
  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,637



    I know some of you are very nice people with stong ethics and morals.

    BUT....NEVER EVER do ANY work without having a written agreement in place. NEVER. Not in this day and age.

    A written agreement does not mean it will back you in court.

    But it is a guide for the client and you that spells out exactly what will be done, what materials will be used, material colors, etc etc.

    You just NEVER know when you may need to fall back on that written agreement.

    You just never know when someone may decide not to pay you and without any documentation you may have no legal recourse.

    An agreement shall spell out every detail. Who. What. Where. When.

    And make sure clients signs off on the material(s) (pavers and block) color(s), and type(s) of material(s).

    Spell out payment terms.

    Spell out exactly what you will do. We have a general form that we use, but each job has a proposal that is written specifically for that job. The general form is more a form for layout and presentation, than it is for wording, etc. In most cases no two hardscape jobs are the same, so a general form may look good in theory, but it needs to be taylored to the clients needs, and so on.

    If your proposal is more than one page (ours are usually 2-3 pages), then MAKE sure the client(s) sign or inital EACH and EVERY page. Without their signature or initialsl.....then you can never prove they accepted the terms spelled out in those pages.

    Each proposal, whether its hardscaping or landscaping should be accompanied with a scaled drawing, that the client signs off on. this way if you place a lead walk 7 feet from the foundation wall, and its speced that way on the scaled plan - then a client can't say "you put the walk too close to the house, we want it moved".
  3. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    I do an estimate using Quickbooks, which is usually emailed. If the job sells, we have a three page agreement that the customer needs to sign (each page).
  4. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,637

    I realize I may be gettin carried away here,

    but to go one step further, I recommend you verify the owners of each and every property you work at.

    See, if a property is deeded to more than one owner, and the contract is in only 1 person's name, and if they decide not to pay, you have no ability of placing a lien on the property. To place a lien on a property, all people who's names that are on the deed MUST sign the contract.

    In other words if I do a job for you and your property is deeded to both you and your wife, but only you sign the contract, and you don't pay me, then I can not place a lien on the property. I CAN take you to court, but thats the extent. Now if I have both you and your wife sign the contract, then I CAN place a lien on the property.

    I've never had to do this, and hopefully never will. I'm a believer in crossing all my t's and dotting all my i's. As well as being one step ahead and prepared for the worse at all times.

    So for each and every proposal we submit I go to the state real estate property tax records and obtain the proper, full names, and place them on the proposal.

    In MD we have this web link:

    Real Estate Tax Records

    And I'm sure most other states have similar.
  5. CrewCutEnterprises

    CrewCutEnterprises LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 898

    DVS, I love that web site. I use it for estimating some of my mowing properties. Where are u located in Western MD? ive been looking for someone to learn some hardscaping from or even just watch, Theres no otherway to learn, and I dont like the learn as you go approach.

    Also As for placing a lein against a house, is there a certain value that has to be reached to do this?
  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,637

    We serve Frederick and Washington counties.

    I never placed a lien, but I assume there is no min. dollar amount.

    The only problem with the real estate records for maintenance work, is if you have clients that are renting the property.

    Also, that web site is great if you own rental property(ies), for doing background checks on prospective tenants. If someone says they lived at 123 Main Street, and gives the name of the owner, you can check and see if the names match, incase they use their brother or cousin to vouch for them.
  7. 1BadHawk

    1BadHawk LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    I would think a contract of some sort would be necessary in work like this. So theres no, "i wanted this, not that" or it was suppose to go "here, not there" stories.

    Would anyone mind sending me a sample or a copy of an old estimate/contract?

    my email is



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