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Greg

Rototilling Fees

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Greg
Hello Club. I haven't been involved with the club for a while due to many time consuming activities. Boy has this place changed. It looks great! A friend of a friend has learned that I have a tiller for my AC B-112, and wants to hire me to till his front yard so he can start over with the lawn. I've donated my time many times to cut gardens for friends and family, but I've never hired the service out before. Can anyone offer any suggestions on how to price this? About all I know right now is that the yard is about 1500 square feet, but I don't know the soil condition, so I don't know how many passes to expect. The two obvious approaches are, by the clock, or by the square foot. I'm located in Massachusetts, in case pricing is regional, which it probably is. Thanks for any thoughts on this. Greg Calder

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HubbardRA
Best bet is to hire yourself out by the hour. Most people charge an hourly fee for the machine and an hourly fee for the operator. That way, if the land owner stops and holds you up for some reason. You will be paid even though the tractor is not in operation. The tractor rate will cover wear and tear and possible breakage. My grandpa plowed gardens for people and this is the way he did it. He said that if you don't break it between driver and tactor, that people think you are charging too much because they see it all as driver salary, but if you separate it they will gladly pay the same amount or even more. Just my 2 cents.

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MN_FISH
I would charge by the hour. That way if the yard causes problems like 3 passes or have to drive at a snails pace your covered for your extra time and wear & tear on your equipment. Don't know how much an hourly rate you could charge? You maybe could check with your county agent at your county extension office. I know they have county average rates for custom rates & farm equipment rental. Have fun.

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MichaelGT
Greg I agree with the others on charging hourly rates for machine and operator. For machine rates, I would check to see if there are any rental places that rent rototillers (rear or front tine), and charge that rate for your equipment. Charge the hourly rate for what your time is worth. Also, if he is starting the yard over, I would suggest that the yard be sprayed with something that kills all vegetation (like Roundup) and rototill after everthing has died. Otherwise, you will be chopping the grass roots, and it will be more difficult for him to start a smooth yard. Just my thoughts from experience. Michael

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arnoldir
I have previously done tilling on a per sq ft basis and lost my shirt due to how hard the soil was. Multiple passes and damage to my machine. I'd agree with the per hour method. Find out what a local rental center gets for just the tiller and go from there. For lawn ripouts, I'd advise that you start the job the day after a hard rain or put sprinklers on the lawn for several hours before starting. moist soil is much easier on the machine.

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mowerman1193
I see a ad in the local paper for tilling jobs and they say in the ad($25 for the first hr.and $20hr. after).Not sure what the rate might be where you are but you might try looking in the paper for some ideas.

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thedaddycat
If you're going to be breaking ground, maikng a first pass with the turning(mouldboard or Brinley) plow will loosen the soil up for you. It will also locate the big rocks which you can then avoid tearing up the tiller with........

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IronPony
Get something signed that says you will not be responsible for collateral damage. Better safe than sorry.:D Normal utilities are usually 18+" underground but things like sprinklers and TV/cable wiring, who knows? Dan

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SmilinSam
I charge about $30 an hour is what it averages out to. About $50 an hour for sod. Its hard on the equipment...and the operator... I wanted to quit tilling for people a couple of years ago so I quit advertising. Didn't stop the calls though. So, now I do about a dozen regulars each year and whoever they happen to tell...

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Greg
Thanks for the great feedback! I agree the per hour method makes the most sense since you never know about the soil, and breaking it down by machine/operator is a good idea too. The utility disclaimer is a VERY good idea which I never would have thought of. I was leaning toward $25/hr each for me and the machine, which seemed kind of expensive. But cutting sod can have its moments. I'm glad I modified my B-112 with a hydraulic lift though, that has made it easier. I probably shouldn't ride around with the usual beer in the cup holder though. That might not look enough like work...8^)

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thedaddycat
Relating to the Utility Disclaimer, have the guy get a "Call Before You Dig"(or your local service) permit. That may take a few weeks, depending on how busy they are. If it's anything like here, he'll have to mark the area of work with white paint, then they come out and mark where anything underground is, like phone, electric, water, cable TV, etc. When I rented a Case 580 several years back, they forgot to mark the cable TV wire. When I took out a six foot or so section digging out a tree stump, they had to come fix it for free since they never notified the cable co. or marked it. The crew that showed up was going to chew my butt for screwing it up until I gave them the permit number.........

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Dutch
The "call before you dig" may be overkill since utilities are required to be installed much deeper than the depth of tilling. But it never hurts to be cautious. The problem is, you are required to stay 18" - 36" away from any marked lines. So, if a utility runs through the "lawn", you'd be on your own anyway if you tilled. Around here, there is a company named CLS the performs the mark out for all the utility companies. Most guys claim CLS stands for Can't Locate S*** because they are often wrong. I have ripped out several cables and gas lines myself.

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sask
My father-in-law had the telephone company mark their lines before he had a new underground power cable installed on his rural property. The guy who came out marked the service lines but forgot to mark a fibre optic line that happens to run across his land (THE major line that handles the majority of our provinces telecommunications). Luckily my father-in-law remembered that the line crossed his property and called the telephone guy back about it. That was one embarrassed and very thankful employee. The estimated economic loss of cutting that line would apparently have been in the neighbourhood of $10,000/minute.

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Brent_Baumer
I would not till right after it rains and I would not soak the lawn before hand. I have gotten in too big a hurry and not let my garden dry out enough before tilling in the spring and ended up with clods and marbles. The soil does not break up nicely when it is too wet. It will stay in clods all summer and harden like rocks until the clods get wet then freeze multiple times in the winter to break them up again. Brent

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gjh
Don't know if tilling is considered digging; but it is the law that you call Dig Safe before you dig in Massachusetts & Ct. A Dr. rented a bobcat or something similar last year, hit a gas line & blew up his $600,000 home, fortunately no one was injured. I wish dig safe would respond & paint out the utilities before we perform our field surveys in Boston. We have to show the utilities based upon surface castings, valves, etc & schematic, 100 scale drawings to connect up where we think the lines run. Sewer & drain isn't bad cause we pop the lids, elec, phone, gas are tough cause they can snake the line wherever they want, so it's a guess. Still the contractor tries to hold the Surveyor responsible, no matter what kind of disclaimer we put on our plans. That's life in the big city!

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BLT
I just do it for the fun of it. They are all establised gardens and are less then a dozen and about 20 X 20 feet or so. Never takes much more then 20-30 minutes to do a good job, if the ground is right. They always ask how much and I say it's up to them and generally end with a $20 stuffed in my shirt pocket. Some of top that that off by dropping off a case or two of beer. They are just happy to get it done. I have a ball just doing it. Most of them are close to my house so I just run done the street and do it.

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