Bidding a big new home development sod job.

You never know when a big job is going to come your way. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, one lawn care business owner got a call to install sod at 300 new properties with the average property size of 10,000 sq ft. Such a job could take a small lawn care company over a year to perform and cost a fortune in materials. Let’s look into the job specifics and the advice others gave on how to potentially deal with such a bid.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have a question about sod. This guy contacted me yesterday and wanted me to give him a bid on installing sod. Well as I was talking to him, I find it’s not just a job for installing sod at one house but instead it was for 300 houses. He wanted a quote to include grading (I don’t know how the land is), sod, and installing sod. He wants this price per sq yard. What would you guys charge per sq yard? Anything would help. I have installed sod before and I know it is very labor intensive.

Most properties around are 10,000-12,000 sq ft. Sod in my area comes on a 250 sq ft per pallet. It costs about $0.21 per sq ft., plus delivery charge, which is around $100. Then you have to tack on the cost to unload it. I think for a semi load it’s $100 to unload. This job is so big, I may not even waste my time even attempting to bid it.”

A second lawn care business owner said “in order to bid this, you have to break everything down. Let’s start with the average sized property of 10,000 sq ft. I would charge about $1,000 for a job that size. Now let’s look at how I got the figure.

To just install the sod would take my lawn care company 3 hours with 6 guys and be a total of 18 man hours.

Each is paid $8 an hour.

Then you have to include pick up & drop off time for the sod which could be another hour each way.

So that could bump it up to 5 hrs x 6 guys x $8 an hour = $240.

Plus foreman salary average $150 day

Plus install bonus $25 /10K sq ft.

So $240 + $150 + $25 + let’s say $250 in over head, that’s less than $700 total. They could do another job after that in the same day. So $300+ in profit is not bad.

Before I started my lawn care business, I worked with a sod company that grew and installed it’s own sod and charged $.10 a sq ft to install with a $400 minimum and $.32 cents a sq ft for the sod. They had a free delivery policy after purchase of 600 sq ft. They didn’t do any grading work but rolled it and fertilized after wards.

With this large of a job, I’d see if there was a sod company in your area that does installs. If so, get a price and let them do the work. They are set up for it with specialized equipment needed (forklifts, man power, skills). Then you just do the sprinklers and grading.

The company I worked with was the 2nd biggest sod supplier in my area and we had 6-7 man crews that could install 30K sq ft a day easy, 50K a day if the sod was on big rolls. Try doing that with a crew not used to working with sod.

We were set up to do it and knew what we were doing so we did it faster than any other company in our area. We did a lot of installs for landscape companies. Some things to keep in mind though is that your sod may be a different variety and come in different sizes.”

A third lawn care business owner added “250 sq ft is a small sod pallet. Here they are sized 400-500 sq ft. We charge about $.75 a sq ft. That’s for everything, sod and installation. If it’s a small job then we will add another $50 per pallet. So for a 400 sq ft. pallet your looking at $300 each installed.

But before you jump at doing it yourself, ask yourself, can you handle the cost and labor on a job like this? If not then sub contract it to a sod farm. Even if you only make $50 a pallet or even $25, you won’t even be getting dirty. You are looking at 300 homes x 10,000 sq ft of sod! That’s 7,500 pallets at 400 sq ft. At $25 a pallet your going to bring in$187,500 without touching it. At a $100 a pallet it will cost you $750,000 dollars to buy the sod yourself.

Ideally you would charge $2,250,000 dollars for the total job but I think you would be way high on that bid. I would expect they would want to pay way less with that kind of volume as you will on the sod. You could get that much grass here for $50 a pallet it would cost $375,000 in material and at just $50 a pallet to install the total cost would be $750,000.”

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