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    Hi All,

    Tim wanted me to open a post here so he could add a bunch of thoughts on how to bid on hardscape jobs.

    Thanks so much Tim!
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  • #2
    Hopefully this will put some insight on the HOW TO BID HARDSCAPE JOBS. Starting with Basic Patio's so you don't lose your butt. A big job can cause a lot of heart ache and stress for a small company, not only mentaly but become financialy devistating. More small companies go broke by not bidding the job correctly. Forgetting small cost details can cost you BIG $$$.

    NOTE; I am NOT a lawyer and I am not offering any legal advise, only good business advise.

    Part 1 THE DESIGN;
    Begin with a good design and that starts from talking with the customer and discuessing what they are looking for. If they have no clue (which most don't) then start by showing them some picture and catalogs with different designs, then you can impliment them together to make your own. Use color pencils and be prepared to draw it out a few times before you get it how you see it in your mind. Hint; I use a design Cad program because my freehand isn't the best anymore and this allows me to be very creative and move things around easier. A good valued Design Program will cost under $100. from any Staples or Office Depot. ADVANTAGE of design software is if you have it on your LAPTOP you can take it with you and show the customer in 3D motion the design and this part helps sell the job also. What would you like to see, a pencil scrible on crumpled paper or a 3D design complete with landscape in motion? The customer will be impressed the your attention to detail using the software. If you only have a Decktop PC then print it out in color and single line with dimentions and show them your blueprint will have about the same effect as 3D over and above the pencil scrible. You'll want to print your design anyway so you can ADD IT as an attachment to the CONTRACT and have the customer initial the drawings as approved. This is very important and will show guidelines of the scope of work to be completed. Plan on spending at least 1 hour with the customer discussing the design and making notes, remember to speek professionaly and always at the very least act as if you have done this before, but be honest, if they ask have you done jobs like this before tell the truth they will respect you more and you can reassure them you are most capiable of completing the job in a professional manner. You will want to add this time to your bid, design work can become a timly event and you need to be paid for it. The profit margines are there to be made.

    Question for the Customer;
    Do they want a Fire Pit?
    Do they want a Grill Pit?
    Do they want plant boxs or plant areas around the patio?
    Is there going to be any steps? steps that are most comfortable to walk up are on a 7-11 tread (If so check with local building code requirements for handrails and other step codes).
    Do they want any segmental accent walls, freestanding or corner columns?
    Are you to incorporate any accent lighting, area lighting or landscape lighting. If so you may need to sub out a licensed electrician to do the high voltage wiring and have it inspected.
    Permits; local, city and county may require permits to be pulled and the cost is minimual (here most city building permits are $25 to $50 depending on the city), if you are required to pull permits for your patio job make sure you have the city building inspector come out to the site and look over the work being done, keep this person IN THE LOOP he/she can be a good source for MORE JOBS TO COME.(hint) and they like doing this kind of thing also, makes them feel more important. ALWAYS CHECK WITH THE LOCAL AUTHORIES HAVING JURISDICTION ON PERMIT REQUIRMENTS.
    Water; do they want any water gradens, falls etc.
    Are you or the customer to prove the landscaping.
    Always add seeding and straw to complete the job around the edges of the new patio as needed.
    Is there going to be a need for leveling the area, is dirt going to be required to bring the yard up to grade of the patio.

    THE FOLLOWING IS FROM PAVESTONES TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION MANUAL. I have add a few thing to this that I have found to be helpful in many ways.

    Equipment List
    •Gloves & Safety Glasses
    •Lumber (2) 10' straight 2"x4" yellow pine
    •Sledge hammer or heavy rubber or
    plastic mallet
    •Shovel & spade
    •(2-3) 8' lengths of 1" steel electrical
    conduit pipe
    •Nylon mason’s string
    •(2) long tape measures
    •Carpenter’s chalk line
    •Wooden or metal stakes
    •Carpenter’s level
    •Line level which clips to a string
    •Pick, if ground is hard
    •Grease pencil
    •Aluminum edge restraint
    •Landscape nails

    Rental List
    Gas-powered plate compactor
    •Guillotine-type stone cutter or masonry
    saw with diamond tip blade for more
    precise stone cuts.
    Ask your all purpose rental store
    for prices and availability.

    •Base Material:
    •Vehicular Traffic: 1.2 cubic yard of crushed
    limestone or reclaimed concrete (very fine)
    for every 75 sq. ft. of project at 4 in. depth.
    •Pedestrian Traffic: 1- 94 lb. bag portland
    cement for each 30 sq. ft. of project.
    Roto-till into existing subgrade. (We use limestone for all project).
    •Edge Restraint: Aluminum edging with
    landscape nails.
    •Driveway Concrete Toe: 1- 94 lb. bag of
    portland cement for every 25 ft. of concrete
    toe. Add the equivalent of a 3-to-1 ratio,
    sand to portland. Also use #3 rebar through
    the center of toe.

    Step 1 – Excavating
    For our first step, we laid out a rectangle which most
    closely approximates the patio’s finished shape, by
    placing a stake about 2 ft. past each corner.
    To guide accurate stone laying, it’s important to
    establish parallel sides and 90° corners. You can make
    an accurate 90° angle using the 3-4-5 triangle
    A. Drive a stake at the primary corner and wrap a
    string line right at the corner.
    B. Measure from the stake 3 ft. along a straight base
    line. In this case, it’s the home’s foundation. Make
    a mark on the foundation with a pencil.
    C. Lay the string out in the general direction of 90º
    from the house. Make a mark 4 ft. away from
    the house.
    D. At your first 3 ft. pencil mark, measure 5 ft. out
    diagonally towards your 4 ft. mark on the string.
    When the mark on the string is exactly 5 ft. from
    your first pencil mark, you have created a 90°
    angle from the house.
    Next, determine your finished patio height. The patio
    height should be slightly above the surrounding
    ground so that rain water won’t stand on the surface.
    E. At your first stake against the house, tie the
    string-line at the level that you want to represent
    your finished patio height. Attach the other end to
    the outer stake.
    F. Attach a line level to the middle of the string-line.
    Slide the string up or down the outer stake, as
    needed, until the string becomes level.
    Establish an adequate patio slope so rainwater will
    drain away from your home.
    G. Mark the level point on the outer stake. Allow at
    least a 1 in. drop for every 8 ft. away from the
    house. Example: A patio 16 ft. out away from the
    house has a 2 in. drop.
    H. Slide the string down the outer stake to the proper
    slope and secure the string-line.
    I. Dig out the soil to the proper depth. TIP: Use a power
    sod cutter for best results. Use a shovel and pick, if
    necessary, to dig a “rough” depth to within an inch of
    the final depth. Use the string-lines (and additional
    cross lines) to determine proper excavation depth. In
    this case, 3 1/8" in.
    J. Continue your excavated area 6 in. out past your
    string-lines and to the depth determined in below the finished patio or walkway surface.
    K. Roll up the sod and store it in a cold damp place to
    keep it moist. When the job is complete, replace the
    sod around the edge of the paving stones.
    Step 2 – Preparing the Base
    As you might expect, the secret of a long lasting patio lies
    in a good base for the paving stones. The thickness of
    your base depends upon the soil; low lying, wet soils
    need a thicker base than well drained soils. Four (4) to six
    (6) inches of well compacted, finely crushed stone should
    be enough.
    However, the type of base material available varies from
    region to region. Local Pavestone Company retailers can
    recommend a suitable base and help you figure how
    much you’ll need. Pavestone Co. retailer can also help
    gather and, perhaps, deliver your other supplies – coarse
    washed Pavestone paver sand, edge restraints and
    paving stones. One pallet of stone weighs 1.5 tons.
    Remember, paving stones are heavy. Home delivery
    should be seriously considered.
    In some areas with sandy soils, you can use Portland
    Cement (1-94 lb. bag per 30 sq. ft.) called cement
    stabilization. Spread Portland Cement over excavated
    sandy soils, then roto-till the Portland Cement
    into your existing native soils. Compact it with a
    vibrating plate compactor as we did on our project. After
    compacted, lightly wet the area to form a rigid base. This
    is called cement stabilization and is used for “foot traffic”
    areas only.
    The gas powered plate compactor, approx. $60/day
    rental, saves a lot of hard labor when compacting the aggregate base. Later, you’ll want to
    compact the surface of the paving stones too. You’ll find
    it well worth the rental fee. It’s a heavy machine that is
    quite easy to use, but should be used by adults only.
    Since your finished patio surface will conform to the
    base, showing any dip or rise, it’s important to assure
    that the base is flat and the slope is just right.
    Edge Restraint - If you are using aluminum or plastic
    edging, nail to secure your edge restraints using
    landscape spikes, being careful to accurately follow your
    string-lines. If you are using a concrete toe, go
    ahead and screed your paver sand 5 in. beyond your
    finished edge and lay your paving stones. The toe will be
    installed near the end of the project.
    Step 3 – Screeding the Sand
    Place two parallel pieces of 1 in. steel conduit pipe about
    5 ft. apart onto your base. Place coarse sand between
    the conduit pipes. Screed it back and forth with
    a straight 8 ft. 2 x 4" board to make it smooth.
    Then, carefully fill the gaps made from removing the
    pipes. Do not walk on the paver sand. Complete 8 x 8 ft.
    square sections at a time, laying the paving stones
    before smoothing the next section. *Note: When laying
    paving stones next to an existing concrete surface, the
    sand should lay exactly 2 1/8 in. below the concrete
    surface. Cut a 2 1/8 in. notch out of your board to speed
    up the screeding. Check your sand height by placing a
    paving stone on it against the concrete edge. It should
    stand 1/4 in. above the fixed surface. Compacted paving
    stones drop exactly 1/4 in. and “no more” in the
    1 in. foundation of coarse sand.

    Step 4 – Laying Paving Stones
    Start in your square corner and work your way
    out in a triangular direction. Most projects are bordered with Holland Stone to form a clean edge and a picture frame
    effect. A Holland Stone border was used in this
    project. Lay each new paving stone against the
    previously placed stone and slide it straight
    down. Do not slide paving stones across the
    sand, as it will disrupt your carefully screeded
    sandbed. Install each paving stone without
    leaving gaps. Nudge them tighter by tapping
    with a hammer handle or rubber mallet.
    *Note: Never stomp a paving stone into place.
    Should you find the paving stones not aligning,
    stop and find the problem. Check the starting
    corner to make sure it’s exactly 90°, and adjust
    the border stones if necessary.
    Step 5 – Cutting the Paving Stones
    Once all of your paving stones are in place,
    some areas may require cutting to form a
    particular line or edge. Draw a line on the
    surface of the stones with a grease pencil
    (crayon-like pencil). Splitting the paving stones
    with a guillotine cutter will work for simple cuts.
    But for angled cuts and better results, you’ll
    need to rent a wet saw with a diamond blade,
    about $65 to $80/day rental. It’s
    quick and accurate.
    *Caution: Be sure to wear safety goggles when
    cutting or hammering stones.
    Step 6 – Edge Restraint
    Aluminum or plastic edging is our
    recommended edge restraint. Aluminum is
    lightweight, flexible, easy to use, and does not
    warp. Use long landscape spikes to secure your
    edge restraint along all exposed sides.
    When aluminum edge restraint material is not
    available, you can make a concrete edge called a
    concrete toe . Concrete Toe (Optional) – Good for Driveways
    When all paving stones are cut and laid in place,
    use a flat shovel and dig a trench around your
    finished edge. This is done by digging straight
    down, 2 to 4 in. below the bottom of the paving
    stones and out 4 to 5 inches. Dig straight down
    with a flat shovel, making sure not to disturb the
    paving stones. Next, follow the directions on a bag
    of Portland Cement to make a thick cement mixture.
    Shovel the mixture into the trench and smooth from
    halfway up the paving stone, in a 45° angle to the
    ground. Let it set. For driveways make the toe
    larger and set a piece of #3 steel rebar in it.
    Step 7 – Compacting
    Finally, set the paving stones firmly into the paver
    sand with the plate compactor. Like mowing the
    lawn, make only one pass. Use a mallet and wood block to set hard to reach areas. Sweep sand into the surface cracks and vibrate them one final pass, sweeping more sand in as necessary.
    Two passes with the plate compactor is
    sufficient. The paver sand, in the joints, will pack
    down after a few rainstorms. Keep extra paver
    sand on hand to refill the gaps as needed. We use polymeric sand for all jobs. This type of sand is resistant to weeds and insects, it has a sticking agent added to it to keep it in the joint. Be sure to use all safety equipment required.


    • #3
      Now that you have gone over the design and installation process lets get down to business with estimating a project.

      For a example project our customer Ms. Smith wants a 10' x 20' *patio.

      Notes: Yard is level out to 20 feet and the patio door is 6" above the exsisting concrete patio, we are to remove the concrete patio and install the new Rec & Square Patio with border in its place. Customer will do all landscape themselves.

      Job Cost Estimating Worksheet (Pave Stone)
      Project Name: Ms. Smith
      Quantity Cost Total
      Removals: Concrete, Asphalt, Brick, Other 1 $750.00 sq. ft. $750.00
      Dumping Charges 1 $300.00 $ $300.00
      Driv approach (min $1000.00) $0.00

      Base Prep: Excavation to 9-11" (Driveway or Patio) sq.ft. $0.00
      Excavation to 1" (Patio/Sidewalksl) sq.ft. $0.00
      Flex Base 4" base/1.2 tons per 50 sq.ft. 4 $44.00 ton $176.00
      Sand 1 ton = approx. 100sq ft. 2 $38.00 ton $76.00

      Pavers: Total area for pavers = * * * * *200 sq ft. $0.00
      Border = * * * * * 60Ln ft= * * * * 44 sq ft. sq ft. $0.00
      Square & Rec. Feild (Less Border)= * * * * * *156 * sq ft. 200 $3.12 sq ft. $624.00
      Delivery 1 $190.00 truck load $190.00
      Fork Lift Charge included per load $0.00
      Drop Charge included 1/2 truck $0.00
      State Sales Tax (pavers only) included 6% $0.00

      Edge Restraint: Alum Brick Stop Ln ft. $0.00
      Concrete Toe Ln ft. $0.00
      Plastic Brick Stop 60 $2.33 Ln ft. $139.80
      Spikes 120 $1.25 pieces $150.00

      Equip. Cost: Concrete Saw Diamond Blade 3 $75.00 per day $225.00
      Guillotine Splitter 3 $50.00 per day $150.00
      Compactor 3 $75.00 per day $225.00
      Roto Tiller per day $0.00
      Skid Loader *(Mini) per day $0.00
      Skid Loader *(Large) 1 $300.00 per day $300.00
      Other $0.00

      Other: Steps $0.00
      Utilities to encase concrete $0.00
      Overlays $0.00
      Joint Sand Polymeric 5 $36.95 $184.75

      Installation: 3 Men x 8 Hrs. x *2 Days 48 $35.00 $1,680.00

      Sub Total: $5,170.55
      PROFIT @ % 0.15 $775.58
      SUB TOTAL $5,946.13
      TAX %
      TOTAL PAVER BID $5,946.13

      Cost per sq. ft. less the expense of removing concrete patio is $22.98.

      There you have it a complete estimate using the Quick Estimate Program.

      I hope this has helped some and if not I am willing to answer any question.


      • #4
        Tim this is an amazing post! Thank you so much!

        Do you happen to have any images of what you designed on your computer before you actually created that hardscape project?

        It would be fantastic to see some before and after. From conception to completion images.
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        Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.


        • #5
          This is fantastic Tim, thank you very much for posting this.


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