Author Archives: Joel Bock

Estimates, Bids, and Time and Materials (T&M)

Estimates, bids, and time and materials (T&M). I often hear people in the community using these words interchangeably, but in truth these words mean quite different things to the business person who is contracting for services to the public.

Estimates: These are usually given if the potential client wants a price very quickly—just to see if it is within their ball park budget. It is just that, an estimate, and a contractor does not expect to have the client hold them to this price or to the price range. Often, we will give a low and high number as a range to the estimate. This is particularly done if there are a number of unknown challenges or risks involved to implement the task. An example of a common unknown challenge is when one has a break or multiple breaks in an irrigation system due to an accident or severe freezing. We do not have X-ray vision to know how many breaks there are and how many pipes or heads must be dug up and replaced to get the system to work successfully again.

T&M (Time and Materials): Occasionally, after giving an estimate to a client, the client wants to go ahead and have work accomplished. We try to make the client aware of what is included in a T&M job. Normally this does not include a contract. The first step is to sleuth out what needs to be done on site. This time is billed to the job. There may be some cleanup needed with removals involved, this will include labor for a trip to and from the recycle or dump site which is also billed. If a challenge is encountered during the job which needs special tools or equipment, there will be time to travel to purchase the equipment or to return to the shop to fetch it, if we own it, and this time is billed as well. Often, clients will not understand this situation because they want to pay only for the time that they see our employees on their site.

Bid: Most often we offer a bid for a job. This involves a contract which states what is included in the bid. We do our best to include the removals, the trips to and from the dump, the shop, the store and how many days and hours of labor it will require. If something is encountered during the job which is entirely outside of the contract, we will need to stop and give the client a bed price to perform the “additional to contract” work.

In a T&M job, the client takes on the risks of what might happen on the job. In a Bid job, the contractor takes on the risks of what might happen on the job and charges for it. Often it is less expensive for the client to work as a T&M job unless there is something unearthed which is unusually expensive. Most clients prefer a bid for their work as they then have a firm price to expect at the end of the job and they might feel that they do not know the contractor well enough to trust him/her, so they would rather take the risk of paying more for the product, rather than trusting the unknown or unfamiliar business person.

Phil‘s Garden Tips and Tricks for October

It is now the waning days of Summer. The kids are back in school and your commutes have changed as a result. Take a moment as you drive and enjoy the slow change of the seasons. The rainy season will be with us by the end of October! September and October are my two favorite months of the year, for dry but cooler weather and generally sunny skies.

September Gardening Tasks:

  • Slack off on watering in the beds, but water some if your soil is dry. Less water now hardens plants off for winter.
  • Weed. Yes, still.
  • This month and next month are the best months to plant or renovate lawns, particularly as the air gets cooler and before it gets completely cloudy and cold.
  • Bait for slugs.
  • You can begin trimming off the tops of those perennials that have finished blooming and have turned brown to clear up the clutter.
  • Now is a good time to take rhododendron cuttings to start new ones if you are so inclined.
  • September through March are the best months of the year to transplant or plant. The very best month is November.
  • Prepare compost piles for recycling vegetation from garden and deciduous trees this fall. For a more detailed look at what makes good compost, read this blog post on composting.
  • Pick and store winter squash, if ready. This is usually late in September.
  • Use a copper spray for peach and cherry trees during dry periods.
  • Spray for bacterial canker of blueberries, leaf cane spot and juniper twig blight (after pruning away dead and infected twigs) during dry periods.
  • Bring houseplants indoors after cleaning and re-potting if nights get too cool. If possible, keep them out through October.
  • Pick tomatoes and potatoes.
  • September was the last month to plant your winter vegetable garden west of the Cascades. Examples are winter hardy kale, Brussels sprouts, different Italian greens, broccoli, raab, turnips, cabbage, kohlrabi and more.
  • September was also the final month for regular lawn fertilizer application (use a special Fall/Winter mix later in November).

How to Over Seed Your Lawn

The best time for over seeding (filling in bare spots) or just seeding in general is September/October/November or March/April/ May.

  1. Scratch/rough up the bare areas in the lawn with a leaf rake or a hard rake if necessary.
  2. Sprinkle some seed over the bare areas. Cover it about ¼” deep with a grass seed mulch.
  3. Wait about a month to see what happens. If green tiny shoots, like dog hair, begin appearing, you are doing well.
  4. If no green appears—or not enough to create happiness—repeat the performance every three weeks until you have grass.
  5. Keep the bag of grass seed in a cool place (like a garage) over the winter. In the summer put it in a refrigerator. (Watch out for rodents, they love the stuff!)