How telling us your budget affects your project

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Picture of Natasha Maerz

Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager

When having a construction or landscaping project done it is fair to say that most of us think that a contractor will come to our home, complete the project and then be on their way, leaving us with a new backyard or kitchen.

While this sounds great, this is really not the case when it comes to working with a company and getting a project done.

As a homeowner, it is up to you to do your research before hiring a contractor. That research includes finding a reputable company that is insured and skilled at their trade, someone you can trust, and knowing what you are willing and wanting to spend on your project.

Your home, situation, and the scope of work you want done is going to determine how much your project is going to cost.

So, why do we ask you for your budget?

We ask you for you budget, or what you want to invest in the project, because each project can be completed many different ways. As an example, let’s say that you are wanting to get a retaining wall done.

There are many things that can change the price of your retaining wall and determine what type of wall you are getting.

Things to consider:

  • Where the excavated soil can go
  • What type of block you are wanting to have installed
  • Who is doing the work
  • What the landscaping around the wall looks like
  • Timeline of the project
  • Access to the space
  • Weather
  • Add ons such as stairs and lights

Where the excavated soil can go

For an excavation project like a retaining wall, a lot of soil is excavated, and that soil needs a place to go.

If there is a space on the property where soil can be spread out or stock piled instead of having to dispose of, then the soil disposal cost can be taken off of the project price. (Keep in mind that this only works for large properties) .

What type of block you are wanting to have installed

There are hundreds if not thousands of options for what type of material you can use for a retaining wall build. While we always stand by Allan Block as being the best material there is when it comes to retaining walls, there are lots of different retaining wall blocks to choose from.

For instance, there is a type of retaining wall block that a company called Techo-bloc makes that looks like wood but is actually concrete. Specialty or more decorative retaining wall blocks like this will typically cost more than your standard block, and are usually special order and by pallet only.

This means that it may take longer to get the product, shipping may cost more, and if you need a pallet and a bit you still have to pay for two pallets since they do not come as individual pieces.

The color of the retaining wall block can change the price as well, as some colors cost more than others.

Who is doing the work

Retaining walls require a skilled, trained person to build them, but there are certain things that homeowners can do to cut down on the cost of labor and materials if they wish.

For instance, we have had homeowners take down their old wooden walls and use their own trailers to dispose of the failing wall. This way we are coming into a clean site and can excavate right away.

Another way homeowners can help cut down on the project cost would be to remediate their lawn themselves after a project is finished. Machines such as excavators, skid steers and track dumpers can damage lawns. There are two ways to fix this problem, one that cuts down on labor and one that increases it.

The first way the lawn can be remediated is by protecting the lawn by putting plywood on it, and having the machines only drive on the plywood. This option helps to ensure that the lawn does not get damaged, but it is time consuming to load up the plywood and bring to your home, put it down on the area (especially if the area is a long distance), and  pick back up and load it again to take it back to our yard.This adds more labor to the price of the project.

The other option is to drive on the grass with machines during the project and remediate that area once the project is complete. This could be by adding sod to the area, seeding the area, or doing a full lawn renovation.

Some homeowners are okay with seeding the area themselves, therefore taking that cost out of the equation.

What the landscaping around the wall looks like

Retaining wall can be a focal point of a backyard and there are endless amounts of add ons to make the wall look stunning and really elevate your space. These add ons include but are not limited to

  • Lights
  • Flowers
  • Ramps
  • Staircase
  • Finishings such as mulch, gravel or grass

When you are getting a quote or price for a retaining wall, that quote is for a basic wall and will not include any of the add ons we previously spoke about.

Adding any of those add ons will change the price of your retaining wall project.

Timeline of the project

If you are needing the project to be done as soon as possible (maybe you are selling your home) it may be necessary to have your contractor bring in a bigger crew to the get the job done faster. In this case your project price may increase due to the extra labor.

Access to the space

One of the main issues we see with projects large and small is the access to the space. Most residential yards have small gates or stairs to access the property, which does not allow machines to get into the yard.

Machine access is a big chunk of what determines a projects overall price.

If large machines can easily get in and out of the yard then the labor and man hours decrease.

If the access to the space is tight, the price can go up. This is due to having to get rid of trees and plants that are blocking access to the space, or having to build roads with soil or gravel to get into the backyard. (In some cases both of these need to happen to gain access to the space).


Why it may feel weird to give us your budget

You may feel that once you let us know what your budget is we will use that exact price for your project regardless if that is actually the price or not.

When asking for a budget we are asking you to tell us what you feel comfortable investing in your project. We do not want to quote you a $50,000 retaining wall when you have set aside $20,000.

Our goal is to work with you to get to a price that you feel comfortable with that will meet your needs and expectations, and leave you happy at the end of the project.

If your budget is $20,000 and the project is $15,000 we will happily tell you that we can complete your project under your budget! 

How we do our best to complete your project within your budget

Once we have a budget for your project we will look at what the project entails, what your site looks like, what your expectations are, and if we can make it work.

In some cases your budget and our price just don’t match up regardless of what we try to do to meet it.

In that case we have customers who save up for the project and then book it when they are ready.

Again, giving us that budget allows us to be creative with you so that we can deliver exactly what you want, at a price you feel comfortable with.

How do I figure out a budget for my project

There a couple of things that you need to consider when figuring out what your budget is.

  • What are my project expectations
  • What can I afford
  • How long do I want this project to last
  • Does this project need to get done right now
  • What does a typical project like this cost

What are my project expectations

Using a retaining wall project again as our example, thinking about what you expect at the end of the project will help you determine how much you want to invest in it.

If you are envisioning a retaining wall with stairs, lights, plants, and a paver sidewalk that leads up to your wall, your budget will need to reflect that. If you are looking for just a simple retaining wall, your budget can be more conservative.

What can I afford

It is important to sit down with all of the decision makers in your home and see if you can afford to get a construction project done now, or wait.

You want to be comfortable throughout the project that you have the money to invest in it, and should something come up during the project, be able to comfortably cover that expense without going into debt.

Though rare, there have been cases where upon excavation we have found dry wall that needed to be disposed of, or had other problems arise that added to the cost of the project. 

How long do I want this project to last  

Are you going to be living In this house for the next 20 years, or are you planning on selling soon? Do you need a new roof that will need to be done before this other project? These are the things you need to think about when figuring out what you want to invest into a project.

If you are going to be living in your home for a long time it might make sense to you to have a retaining wall built that is going to last 100+ years.

If your roof is failing and needs to be done maybe the majority of your money needs to go to that and the retaining wall will not be able to be as extravagant as you might want it to be.

Does this project need to get done right now?

While you may want your backyard to look good and have everything tidied up and squared away, you may not be able to invest as much money as you should into a big construction project. In that case, waiting until you have money saved up might be a smart play.

On the contrary, if you have a wall that is failing and needs attention right away or it will wreck your home or surrounding areas, you may need to pull the trigger sooner.

The beauty of that is that it is possible for you to get a retaining wall done as basic as possible (while still being structurally sound) and then once you have saved up more money have your contractor come back to finish the landscaping. (Remember to have this conversation before your wall is built, as some things with the wall, such as stairs, may need to be done during the build and wont be able to be added on later)

What does a typical project like this cost?

When figuring out a budget it makes sense to figure out roughly what projects like yours costs.

Again, every space is different and there will be variables when it comes to what will increase or decrease the cost of your project.

Things like permits, engineering, and the purpose of your retaining wall will affect the price.

You are going to find that when you research how much your project is going to cost that prices are all over the map. The reason each company has different prices for their projects is that each company offers a different project build.

What do we mean by that?

No two project are alike. The person building your project may or may not be certified and trained in the build, the amount of material used can be different, and how the project is built varies.

Our goal when working with you is to get you a project that you will be happy with while also staying within your budget. Do not be afraid to share that number, and remember if you are unsure what you want or can spend, you might need to wait and do more research before starting a big project.