How much to pay??

msjay2u(7)April 25, 2009

The cost of living here is pretty low although we are not in the bottom of the barrel. I need to hire someone to do some of my yard work for me since I have a date it has to be done by. I am running low on time and I have to get my place together like quick.

I am planning on getting a load of dirt and having it dumped. This load will have to be dispersed very close to the pile to make my raised beds. I have to build a couple of wood platforms for my company when they come. My ground is very soft so I was thinking of building some floors that are about 4" off the ground so the tables can go on them and not sink in the ground. (That will probably be pallets with wood panels on top of that...easy) I need to get all my planting and weeding done, and I want all my stuff established byt the time July comes. That means raised beds, plants planted, weeds killed, barn cleaned out really well. How do I come up with a price to pay the workers? Should I pay by the hour or what? If I pay by the hour they drag the job out if I pay a set price and they do it in a couple of hours I figure they got paid like $30-40 an hour! Hell I don't make that much!! I also sometimes hire people just to work along side me helping as needed or me helping them as needed, depending on what we are doing.

I am so bad at pricing jobs. How do you guys figure out how much to pay people?

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Well, I usually am the one doing the labor, ha ha, but if you want to pay them by the hour, you will have to act as forewoman and supervise them the entire time.

If it is strenuous labor, it's best to pay more than minimum wage. Unless you have some high school kids that need work close by, you probably won't be able to pay slave labor wages, lol! You may want to pay by the job instead, try to estimate how long it will take to do the job, how much you can afford to pay and then go from there. Also, a good thing to do is look in the local classifieds at the manual labor ads, and see how much they are paying. That way you can get a sort of good idea how much manual labor jobs are paying. Offering cash is a good thing too because no one wants to have to report that sort of thing.

30 to 40 an hour for unskilled labor is insane, though, I mean masons make that much, or plumbers, lol! Not yard work or landscaping. I used to look in the papers for that sort of work, I would see ads for roofers for $10 or $15 an hour, and landscaping from anywhere from 6 to 10 bucks an hour. If you guestimate how long the job will take, then maybe take the hours X say 9 or 10 an hour then total that amount. Hope this helps..good help is hard to find!

A few years ago I raked the leaves of an older neighbor of ours. She had said the guy who did it quit after an hour! Later, I saw why...she had 4 humongous oak trees in her yard, and she waited till all the leaves were off the trees. It took me 12 HOURS to rake her yard...she paid me $50, I didn't take any breaks except to eat a sandwich, and I figured I made...what is 12 divided by 50? A little over 4 dollars an hour. Definitely NOT worth it. I worked my butt off too. I had never raked that many leaves in my life, where I grew up, we raked them BEFORE they got to be 12" of leaves...geez oh man!

Best to pay by the job, lol! Good luck MsJay!!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 6:16PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I'd pay by the job and not the hour, too. Most landscaping guys will give you free estimates, and if you have a couple of them come out and eyeball it as you tell them what you need, you should find a happy middle ground. But yeah, be right there with them as they work without SEEMING like you're watching them (smile and offer lemonade breaks!).

We are in the land of Overpriced here in southern California, but two years ago we had a guy come out and top dress & reseed our front lawn. Three guys did the work and they provided both the seed and manure. It took maybe 40 minutes and cost us $120.00. Our lawn & parkway are pretty large, but still a suburban house lot lawn.

Hope this helps!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 10:22PM
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I put an ad on Craigslist and I had a guy come out. I said on the ad I would pay $8 but this guy did so much like cutting down small trees, put the wood up on the side of the barn etc and I wound up paying him $10 an hour. I liked that part of what he did. i hired him to do the fence though and realized that he did not really know how to do the fence and I got mad because I had to figure out how to get the fence right myself. He worked for about 3 weekends.

The next guy I hired was to help me with the path I did in the front of the house. I could not mix that cement up myself. so he dug the dirt down and everything was going good. We used the mold and did a few so he knew what to do. I said I had some things to do in the back and I went in the back and started a fire and did a lot of things and when I came back he was still on the same piece of mold. I know I was gone an hour. He worked on that piece an hour?? I wrapped it up and finished it myself the next weekend, but not without penalty though because I was sore as heck. He definitely milked the job. I always feed them lunch and have plenty of cold Gatorade avail. With getting paid $10 an hour plus lunch (Subway) I did not think that was a bad deal.

I have not found anyone that I can tell them what I need and they do it. Like the last guy I hired I told him I been trying to get the dead vines from the grapevine that were tangled up in the wire out. I cut the vine as much as I wanted it cut and I told him to get the vines out and pull out the broken pole, put in the new pole and make sure you put cement in the hole and put mulch on the ground under the vine path.
I was doing something else in the yard and fiance was also doing soomething. Somehow the guy found a saw, I did not even see him go in the barn, he cut my grapevine down to the ground, and cut all the supporting wires out of the existing structure. When I came and saw that i was in shock and could not even speak. I know I told him a couple of times to only get the dead vines out and I never said anything about cutting the wires out. Then he reused the old pole did not put in deep enough in the ground and basically I have to do it over again. All he did right was put the mulch on the ground under the vine. Well hell, he killed the vine, so I did not need the mulch down. I told him thank you, paid him and when he called to see if I needed anything else I told him no. Now I have to go buy more wire, somehow restring it, put the right pole in the ground and plant another grapevine. I was told that grapevine was planted around the time when my neighbors got married (this was their aunts house) and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary!! arggggh!

Velvet you paid those guys each a dollar a minute. LOL. I guess I will set the parameters of my jobs up and call around and get estimates BY THE JOB NOT THE HOUR.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:31AM
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Sherwood Botsford(3a)

If you pay minimum wage you get minimum work. Pay 20% more than the going rate for common jobs.

If you can do the job yourself, work with them.
If you can't do the job yourself, work at another job where you can watch them.

After 5-6 days of this you can leave them unsupervised for short periods of time.

If hiring kids, remember two things:
1. Some have a work ethic, some are slackers.
2. Many don't have much stamina. They are good for 2-3
hours then they crap out on you. This can be extended by feeding them a sandwich every two hours.

The first time you hire a kid, you hire him for two hours. When you hire him you tell him that whether he gets asked back depends on how he works those two hours.

Hiring pairs of kids can work well. You still have to supervise, but they will chatter at each other while they work. You may have to say things like, "Chat all you want, but I'm paying you to pull weeds."

Some jobs define well: Mow the lawn and trim the edges.
Pull all the grass out of this flower bed. You can see if its done or not done. Some jobs don't define well. Planting can be done carelessly or carefully, and it's hard to tell just by looking at the end result. Spreading fertilizer is impossible to tell.

Whenever possible define a goal. "Today we are going to weed the peony bed.

Once when I hired a local kid to help, I found that even weeding together, I was almost twice as fast, and was better aboutt he little ones, but it was still a win: Having to be there to supervise her made me work consistently and longer than if she wasn't there.

Sherwood Botsford
Sherwood's Forests Tree Farm
"Trees for Rural Living"
(780) 848 2548

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 3:55PM
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hee hee sounds like you have experience hiring teenagers.

I decided I am going to bite the bullet and get some estimates from landscapers. Maybe my original post sounded like I was cheap or something but I actually pay more than the $5 something minimum wage. i just don't want to get screwed over by the professionals. I am willing to pay but not over freaking pay and yes I think some prices are ridiculous. I refuse to pay a landscaper more than I make an hour plus I know they typically hire immigrants and pay them pennies.

But to be honest I haven't even gotten an estimate from a landscaper, I just assumed it was through the roof and prematurely panicked. LOL


    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 9:11PM
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Sounds like you are having a family reunion. I've found that I just get as much as we can done. Mainly, because I'll never get thru with all the things I want to do.

Our little town and area has several small publications that have ads listed in them. My DH has even put an ad in our town paper before as handyman/painter/small project's/yard work.

Your family/friends should be there to visit and not critique your home and farm. I always tell my husband if somebody is looking that close or doesn't like something they don't have to be at our house. We do what we can and work on the rest when we get a chance. Don't sweat it, it'll be okay.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Japanese Redneck Blog

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 8:57AM
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Well actually every year I make an excuse to have lots of people come from the family and it makes me get in gear and get a lot of stuff done. Last year I had my Grandmothers birthday party. The yard was looking nice and then at the last minute I asked the guy to come and pull some of the kudzo out of the trees. He uses a bobcat. Well the ground was particularly soft that day and I had trenches all through the yard. It rained before the party and it looked like i had streams all over the yard. LOL we had some good laughs over that when I told them what happened. They still can't get over the fact that I live in the country!

My family is not judgmental at all and they usually love what they see. Remember I am from the city. No one is coming to critique my home but I do take a certain amount of pride in it and try to make it look the best I can. This year I am having a memorial service for my mother. She passed away last year so we are all going to get together and tell stories, eat, have a good time and also I have to give her ashes out to some of the family. My Mom was a good gardener although she NEVER revealed any of her secrets. I am hoping to have the yard looking pretty so people will think I "inherited" her gardening skills. YEAH RIGHT...They gonna have to leave before the weeds take over though. LOL

I am making my punch list and then I will hire someone to get er done, at least some of it.

Thanks everyone. This has all been helpful.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 7:09PM
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