We have all been there when someone asks us what our budget is for something. The wheels start turning in our heads, and we think, “Shouldn’t they know much their service costs?” and, “If I say what my budget is, are they going to charge me that price even if they can do it cheaper?”.
When buying a car, most people figure out what their budget is going to be before they arrive at the dealership. Some things that they may consider when coming up with a budget are what type of vehicle they want (car, truck ect.), and what make and model they like. They consider whether they would like a used vehicle, or if they want to buy a brand new one.
When you go to a dealership with these things in mind and tell them your budget, they are able to find you a car that suits your needs, and what you can afford. If you went to buy a car with no knowledge of a budget, your car dealer would end up showing you everything from commuter cars to vintage show cars, because they have no idea what you can afford. This can be frustrating for everyone, because both you and the dealers time may be getting wasted.
This example is the same for a budget for a landscaping project, no matter how big or small a project is. The budget gives your contractor an idea of what can be done for you, and if they are realistically able to do the job for that price, or close to it.
So, how does your budget affect your project?
When you let your contractor know what your budget is, you are able to get a customized project that was made specifically for you, and your space. They will be able to look at material costs, labor, and design, and tweak it for your project.
When you are looking to get a project done, there are two main things that you need to consider. One thing is the scope of work. The scope of work includes what your contractor is going to do, what additions they do for you, and what is included. The second thing that needs to be considered is if this project is a construction project or a landscape project.
The difference between a construction project and a landscape project is how your space is treated during the project, and how your space looks after the project is completed.
Let’s use two examples to explain. For the examples the patio will be built in the same yard, made out of patio pavers, and will be the same size.
Example 1: Budget $3,000-$5,000
The patio is built with patio pavers, and joint sand is used to “lock” the pavers together. No plywood is put down to protect your grass, and the machines going into the backyard will tear up your grass, leaving ruts. The excavated soil from your yard is piled on your driveway, to be disposed of later. During this time any vehicles that the homeowner uses will need to be parked on the street, and your driveway could get stained due to the dirt sitting on it. At the end of this project, there will be a big to do list for you.
This to do list is all of the things that are considered the landscape part of a job. This includes you pressure washing your driveway due to the staining of the dirt that was piled on it during the project. You will need to pick rocks out of your grass that were left behind when gravel was being brought into your yard. Since the Skid steers and excavators make a big mess of your lawn, the lawn will need to be reseeded and any ruts left by machine tracks will need to be filled.
Once reseeded, the lawn will need to be watered at least once a day for a couple of weeks. The pavers will be left unsealed and may still have efflorescence (white film) on them, so it will be up to you to wash them with an acid wash and seal them. Due to the cost of this project this is a construction type project. Construction projects are great for homeowners who like to do things themselves. The patio itself is made the same as example 2, but the end result as far as what the space looks like will be totally different.
Example 2: Budget $50,000-$80,00
The contractor starts the project off with bringing you samples of patio pavers that you can choose from, and what color of sand you would like to use to “lock” the pavers together. Before the project starts, plywood roads are built to protect your existing grass, and any plants or fence panels are safely removed, and kept to be reinstalled once the project is over. The patio is built, along with a fire pit, and the patio has a decorative border around it. The pavers are washed and sealed so that the patio is protected, and has a nice wet look to it. All excavated dirt is put into a truck immediately as to not stain your driveway.
If your driveway is gravel, fresh gravel is brought in to skim the top and make everything look new. Fence panels and plants are put back, looking untouched. The plywood roads are taken down, and the grass is raked out, and reseeded. The street and surrounding areas are swept and blown off. Besides having a beautiful new patio, it looks like there was never anyone in your yard. This project will get done on time, even if the contractor needs to do overtime to complete it.
Reflected in the price is the fact that this type of project takes a lot of labor to keep the site clean, and it may be well worth it for you if you do not have the time, or the interest to do these things yourself. This is a turn key job, and you won’t have to lift a finger after the contractor leaves. The scope of work that is being done for this budget makes it a landscape project. One of the reasons homeowners hire a company to do projects is that they want the project done right. The contractor is already on site with equipment, so why not have an expert tie everything in together nicely so you can start enjoying your space right away.
What if I don’t tell my budget?
If you do not have a budget in mind, or do not want to tell your contractor what your budget is, you might want to consider rethinking your project. First off, it is imperative that you and your contractor have a trusting relationship, and that you feel that you can communicate openly. If you do not trust them enough to tell them your budget, why trust them to do a job for you and come into your home?
If you do not have a budget, a contractor may feel that they can come up with a project that is the best money can buy. When contractors are given free rein to do what they want, they are going to design a dream project with all the bells and whistles to go along with it. That sounds great, however, can be very frustrating for all parties because in reality we all have limits on what we are willing to spend on certain things. This can lead to wasted efforts and time. The number of things that can be added to a project are endless, and without that baseline of how much to spend on each aspect, the budget can get out of hand very quickly. In a sense, the budget keeps the project in check because it gives everyone a guideline of what to expect. Having an investment dollar helps avoid unreasonable expectations from both the homeowner and the contractor.
Remember, the purpose of a budget is to help your contractor design you something that you are going to be happy with, that fits in to what you can reasonably afford. Next time you are thinking of getting a project done, be sure to do some research, and think about what your project entails. This way you can come up with a realistic budget that you are completely comfortable with.
For more information on the cost of projects you can read, “How much do French Drains cost?”.