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  • Going Wall Install Rate

    For those who dont know, I am based out of Northern NJ. Our delivery Rates have really gone up. I actually just got asked to put in a segmental retainer wall, for a client. Quarry Stone by Techo-Bloc to be exact. When I price a wall, I go by the cost to but and deliver all the materials, and then I figure in labor. However 90% of the competition just prices by the square foot, in between 20-30 dollars per square foot for walls. Just to stay competitive, what is the going rate now on walls, is it still in that same margin, or have people increased that due to cost of doing business these days. I always like to compare, and I compared the price I came up with for this wall with just doin $25 per square foot, and they were drastically differnt, matter of fact at $25 per sqft, the job wouldnt even be worth it. Its like $5500 just in materials. and the wall is 176 sqft. then another 52 linear ft for the caps

    what number per sq ft have u guys been hearin this year

  • #2
    I guess it depends on the type of wall system you are using and I am not familiar with the variety that you mentioned.
    We do some Keystone and Balcon walls that start at $45 per sq. ft.
    Best way to come up with a number is estimate it the way you have been.
    Make sure you are satisfied with the profit margin, and then convert that mathematically into a price per square foot.
    Hope that answered your question UE ?



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    • #3
      Just to shed a little insight onto the wall pricing, there are several factors that determine the price.
      One very important factor is:
      Length of wall and height. A wall that is 1' tall and 400' long versus a 50 wall that is 6' tall.
      the 1st wall is 400 square face feet x ($35. per square face foot)=$14,000.00
      the 2nd wall is 300 square face feet. x ($35. per square face foot)=$10,500.00
      Which wall will be more profatible?
      If you price these jobs by the square face and the price was the same for both, you would get KILLED on the 1st wall. I am sure that you already know that the hardest and most time consuming part of the wall construction is the foundation. For the most part, the foundation prep. should be the same (possibly a little more base material on the taller wall but this is not a big factor). So if it takes 1 hour to dig out and prep 5' of foundation, and 1 hour of labor is priced at $55.00 per hour, about $550.00 in labor to prep the 2nd wall and $4400.00 to pre the first wall. So this is why square footage pricing is dangerous. Please do not get me wrong, we do still price out our walls by the square face foot, however we do not have a fixed number.
      Also, grade your are working with, finsih grade, height of wall and grids needed, material selection, and project location are all very important factors that are not the same from job to job.
      Hope this helps

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      • #4
        That is some really great insight! Thank you for sharing! Do you have any photos of some of the walls you have made to share with us?
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        • #5
          I have a lot of photos. No vids yet though I would like to look into learning how.
          I do not know how to post photos here but I will figure it out tomorrow if time allows. Also I would always be happy to answer any questions one may have.
          L. Michael Mampieri
          M & I Landscapes
          Blacklick, Ohio 43004

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          • #6
            You should be able to attach files when you click on the add reply button and then at the bottom of the page will be an attachments area.

            What type of guarantees do you provide on your retaining wall builds? What would you suggest other lcos do?
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            • #7
              I will work on getting some pics posted. Most of my work is on a different computer.

              As far as warranty, One year in my opinion is standard however for some larger commercial projects that I have completed I have had to extend it to 2 year. In my opinion and through experience if the wall is going to move, it will do so within the first year anyway. Usually the first freeze and thaw are when most issues pop up. There are a lot of mechanics to building a wall that will determine the structure of the wall. If one has built a sound straight (meaning in line) wall and did not cut corners, there should be no worries about any warranty issues. I have had to fix some walls, and the honest reason is because we tried to cut corners that I thought were not important!
              An example was that I was reading a set of plans and thought that the foundation be 18” thick and 1 course of wall should be buried. Well that would have been 26” down below grade for top of dirt. Away we dug. Got to the site to check on the guys and do a foundation sign off and re-opened my plans to realize I made an 8” mistake. So I thought that I would try to save a few bucks and put 8” of disturbed soil back in and compact it with a grade-all (huge forklift type machine). The guys ran over that several times with the machine and then we set our foundation and layed the first block. As soon as we got a heavy rain, guess what happened…that dirt that we put back in settled. Guess who had to pay to repair it? Yup…trying to save $1,000 in gravel cost me about $20,000 in labor and replacing some material. GREAT lessen to learn!
              L. Michael Mampieri
              M & I Landscapes
              Blacklick, Ohio 43004

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              • #8
                Oh wow!

                Have you ever run into finicky customers who complain after the landscape construction is completed that they don't like it and want it another way or simply want their money back?

                What advise do you have for dealing with difficult customers?
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                • #9
                  Good Question!!! My best advice is the more time you spend with the customer before the project, the less time you have to spend after. What I mean is if you spend as much time with the customer before starting the project, you will have a good idea of their needs/demands. It is a lot easier to iron problems out before starting the project then when everything is complete.
                  Now with this said, I still have challenging or more demanding customers regularly. One thing that you have to remember is the customer is the one paying for this service. You have to put yourself in their shoes...$10000.00 for a patio, you bet I am going to get it the way I want.
                  If it is nearly impossible to satisfy a customer, I try putting the ball back in their court. For example...A set of steps. The customer wanted 8" rises and you gave them 61/2" rises without talking to them first. This would be your responsibility to fix the situation! Now if Rise was never discussed (shame on you) you can work around this. Ask the customer what they are displeased with. They will provide you with an answer. You then ask them "Mr. or Mrs. Customer, if I make this modification to the steps, will you be pleased with the outcome of this project?" 9 times out of ten, you will get a satisfied customer this way because they had a chance to get everything out on the table that was bothering them. If you repair everything they ask, even though you know that it looks better with 61/2" rises etc... they have no recourse. However if you never bother to seek the problem, you can never remedy the situation.
                  Sometimes you have to loose money on a project to keep a customer happy. This is very frustrating to do. If however you leave that dissatisfied customer you are likely to get a bad name quickly. Someone will provide a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague advice on NOT choosing a company rather than positive advice about a company. If a customer feels like they got “ripped off” of $10,000.00 they will tell everyone. Seems like everyone was talking about getting ripped off at the pump when it was $3.00 but when it is below $2.00 it seems to take a back stage is an example that comes to mind.
                  Just my two cents on customer satisfaction but what do I know…I am just a starving dirt farmer!
                  L. Michael Mampieri
                  M & I Landscapes
                  Blacklick, Ohio 43004

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                  • #10
                    Thank you for that insight!

                    Have you found yourself learning more and more early warning signs when dealing with a customer? Do you do anything to prequalify them? Have you ever backed out of a project before you started because you felt the customer was going to be too difficult?
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                    • #11
                      Great questions.
                      No, I do not pre-qualify! I used to judge but that lost me a few jobs!
                      Never go by house size, car driven, color, race, religion etc! I have been taken on 2 jobs in my 10 years of business. Both jobs were customers who fit your stereotypical White collard wealthy business person.
                      A small house should mean to you a smaller mortgage meaning more money to spend on landscape.
                      A more mid range car should mean smaller or not even having a car payment which equals more money to spend on landscape.



                      There is such a thing as an intuition (hope I spelled it correctly). And your feeling of a customer should be very important but like I said before, the people I least suspected got me. So the moral of the story, get a good contract in place, get a solid deposit and clearly discuss payment terms before the project. Do not expect the customer to know them because it says so in the contract. Read it to them and explain it to them. Ask them if the understand the payment terms. Ask them if they have questions. Explain to them the payment forms you accept (credit card, check, cash, money order, debit card, gift card etc...)
                      A customer that typically ask about financing or if you take credit cards generally does not have the money to pay for the project in "liquid assets" or in a checking account. This does not have to be a red flag; however look more into their questioning.
                      Another key warning sign is a customer tells you how to do a project. This is a typical DIY homeowner. You have to be very upfront and honest with this type of customer. Nicely explain to them that they hired you for your professional services and that is what you are going to deliver. You have developed processes over the years that have proven to be very effective and that is the way that the job will go. Basically you are telling them that if they know so much about this why they don’t do it themselves.
                      L. Michael Mampieri
                      M & I Landscapes
                      Blacklick, Ohio 43004

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                      • #12
                        Good points!

                        What would you suggest is the best way to accept payment on such jobs? How do you break it up? A down payment and then what?
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