What is your budget?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by mbella, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    How many of you ask this question? If we meet with a homeowner and they know exactly what they want and they are familiar with the cost of the product then I might not ask. However, 99% of the time, before I put ink to paper, I ask. Asking this question has saved me time, a lot of time. Many of my friends don't ask and are afraid. They waste countless hours guessing, hoping, and thinking they know. I don't get it. ASK.

    I did an estimate for a driveway on a $1,000.000 home. The homeowner's budget was $15,000. I didn't need to think about it for more than about two seconds to know that it was impossible. One of those seconds was thinking the guy was nuts. Anyway, I informed him that that was about half of my guestimate and I went on with my day. He didn't want to spend $30,000.00. It was quick and easy. If I hadn't asked, I would have wasted another hour putting together the estimate.

    I did another estimate on a $400,000. home. My guestimate was over $20,000. I informed the homeowner that I would be over $20.000. He informed me that he knew that it would cost at least that much. Great. I did the estimate, came in at $25,000.00, no problem. The job sold.

    I could have assumed that the guy with the $1,000,000 home would spend $30,000 and I would have been wrong. Also, based on my experience with the first guy, I could have assumed that the guy with the $400,000 home wouldn't spend $25,000 and I would have been wrong.

    Don't assume, ASK.
  2. Electra_Glide

    Electra_Glide LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    I always ask now, but like a lot of other guys, I didn't in the past.

    Went to look at a job this spring to install some surface drains and two dry wells, and do some regrading around the house. Nice house in an upscale neighborhood. Owner wants to "get it done" before the spring rains. They're tired of water always ending up in their garage.

    Given the location of the property and the urgency of the project, I did a "top-of-the line" bid and came in at about $6800, but I never asked them what they had for a budget. In the end, the job went to somebody else who came in and slapped in about half the amount of pipe that was smaller than what I speced, and left the site looking like a mess, but did it for cheap.

    As mbella said, I made an assumption based on the neighborhood, and type of house, but my assumption turned out to be wrong. Had I understood the budget, I would have bid it differently.

    Now, I always ask...

    Went to look at the next job where the guy wants a driveway installed. First question out of my mouth is "What kind of a budget to you have for the project". I get my answer, bid the job in line with his budget, and the job sells.

  3. neversatisfiedj

    neversatisfiedj LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,028

    I've had a couple of customers get really furious when asked what their budget was.
  4. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I agree ,They don't get irate or anything but act as though I just asked them what the balance in their bank account was!They think if I know their budget,I will automaticly spend it all.
    When I ask they give me several answers one is
    "Well how bout you come up with a plan then we will tell you if we can afford it or not"after that I say "ok but the plan will be this amnt of money if you decide not to go with me".
    Or they say they were unable to come up with a budget because they don't know the price of materials.?So they want a hugh pergola and vines streching alond the entire backyard,a Arizona flag patio in the corner,one also in the front,a water feature,flag pathways allround,and lota of plants and 3 trees and a split rail fence.Mind you this is all on a mnfcturd home site with almost 0 room to work with.Asked them their budget,they gave me the above answer,I spent 3 hours on a design,came up with a bid of $9000.00 to $10,000 and boy did that put the breaks on FAST,we sat down to talk and they started saying they were thinking more like $4000.00
    I said ok then you can't have this ,you cant have that,this is what we can do for that amnt of money.But who ate the 3 hours of design time?
    me that's who!
  5. treedoc1

    treedoc1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 319

    Therefore...just like mbella said, ASK FOR THEIR BUDGET!

    What person selling a service doesn't qualify their leads?

    In hardscaping, everyone of you should have a rough idea of the cost to your company to produce a patio, wall, or other item.

    I know it runs me $24 for dust work, $29 for mortar work, and extras go on after that for exceptions. If you and they can't multiply a rough quote on the spot, verify you are in their ballpark, By all means continue to waste your most valuable resource...your time.
  6. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    So what. If they are serious about a project they should have a budget, or at least an idea of how much they have to spend. Don't get me wrong, if somebody wants a downspout piped out, the price is the price. I don't need a budget. The pipe has to go from point a to point b. However, on most hardscape and softscape projects, a budget number is needed. There are so many variables and options in most projects that the estimate needs direction. The direction needs to be in the form of a budget or a specific plan.

    I guarantee, if you're paying somebody to do design and estimates, you'll get a budget number. Either that, or you'll pay somebody for a lot of wasted time.
  7. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

    I always ask for a budget...........I also tell the price shoppers ...dont look for a cheap price....tell landscapers you have $10,000 to spend and what can I get for that 10 grand. Just did a $17,000 job and the neighbor wanted the same.......give me a patio/sprinkler system/lawn etc etc until he found out it was between $10,000 and $20,000...well over his budget of $3000 :rolleyes:

    This year I sound like a supermodel...."Sorry we dont get out of bed for less than 10 grand"
  8. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I do agree that a budget should be asked for and I do ask for one,I am just saying there are those who won't tell.Want you to guess or are afraid you'll spend it all and the old man wont have any beer $ left.
    On the other hand,I have those who just say do it and don't even ask for an est,and don't care ,just do it.They know about what it's gonna cost them,and never complain when you give them the bill.Doing one like that right now.
  9. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Hi, I always ask up front, usally I dont get an answer, regular clients usally dont ask, & 99% take the job if I "Ball Park" it. I'll always break it into sections after the front foundation, it seems on avg. they cost 4-6000.00.......A no dig perennial bed can be as low as $275 with starter plants, takes about 1 hr & travel time [ 100 bucks in material ]........Commerial jobs always have a "Budget", as more than likely they've taken bids a year they didnt have it there budget,,,,,,, :)

Share This Page