Budgeting for Contractor Projects

Budgeting for a ProjectEveryone wants to improve their land, be it a makeover for their home’s backyard or the grounds of their office. The question is can you afford it? Today New England Enterprises talks about budgeting: planning out the cost of your project to know what’s within your price range, and to get a better understanding of what makes up a contractor’s estimate. The following budgeting tips are geared towards excavation and landscape construction, our own specialties.

Saving and Setting a Price Range

The first big step is knowing how much you’re willing to spend and what resources you’re willing to tap into. If you find that what you’re willing to pay and the budget for the project don’t meet up, what are you going to do? Is the project related to repairing an issue? Can it be covered by property or homeowner’s insurance? Are you willing to take out a loan or use a credit card to help cover payments? It’s vital for both sides (you and the contractor) that you’re able to answer the question: what are you willing to pay?

The Basics: Materials and Labor

The basic costs for any project are the cost of the materials that will be used and the cost of the labor to install them. Looking at them more closely:

  • Materials cover the cost of the contractor purchasing the items they are installing, from stacks of pavers to landscape fabric to gravel backfill. By understanding the materials that go into a project, you can get a better idea on the hard costs of the project. Learn about what materials are required for projects in our blog.
  • Labor covers the costs of the people and equipment used to install the materials. This includes wages for the workers and supervisors (which includes costs like insurance), the operational costs of machinery (fuel, maintenance, etc.), and the transportation costs to and from the work place.

Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s cover the three major services.

Budgeting Landscaping: Know What You Want

This single word covers a staggering amount of projects, from grading and replanting a lawn, to a complete makeover of acres of apartment grounds. Knowing what you want before you contact a landscaping contractor allows them to make a plan for you: otherwise you don’t have a clear idea of the costs, and they don’t have a clear idea of what you want. Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the scope of the work? How much do I want changed?
  • Do I want to include excavation and hardscape into the project?
  • What is my vision for a high, medium, and low-cost version of the project?
  • What will the return on profit (curb appeal, maintenance costs) be for the project?

Budgeting Hardscape: Built to Last

Projects like retaining walls, patios, and walkways are some of the most dramatic makeovers that can happen to a property, but they can also be the most expensive in terms of material costs. Understanding the costs of the various materials and the work that goes into them (such as retaining walls), is a great place to start. Another thing to understand is the amount of preparation that goes into long lasting hardscape, and how cheap installations can turn into expensive repairs down the line.

Budgeting Excavation: Soil and Toil

Many projects require excavation: some might be entirely that, such as foundation excavation, while others might have excavation be a small aspect of the project, such as retaining wall or driveway installation. Excavation includes three major parts:

  1. Basic Labor: including prepping the dig site, Call Before You Dig, and actual removal of soil and rocks. Soil composition can dramatically alter costs, so knowing what will have to be dug up ahead of time is useful.
  2. Disposal of Soil: All the soil need to be disposed of unless it’s being reused in the project. This means not only having to use heavy equipment, but also disposal costs.
  3. Equipment Allowances: The equipment, from the backhoe digging to the dump truck that hauls the soil away, and all machinery in between all have operating costs.

Homewyse has a useful excavation calculator that can help you budget in the price range for excavation costs.

By knowing what you’re willing to pay going into a project, and having an idea of how much it really costs to complete that project, you’ll find it much easier to work with your contractor on the actual plan. Contact New England Enterprises when you’re ready for that step, and we’ll help you make your project a reality.