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I'm getting estimates on pond excavation to add to my small scale fish farm. I've had one estimate with three or four more excavators coming out soon.

The first guy seems honest and very knowlegable, but was a little puzzled when I brought up the word "core trench" that I would like him to put in under a dike he will have to build up on one side. When I explained what it was, he said he usually does some scraping with a blade and that is sufficient with the high clay content I have I have my doubts as I have some seepage in one area the dike of my trout pond and that contracter admitted he did not even scrape off the sod! He won't be coming back.

Anyway, he wants $1000.00 per day to dig three ponds, one 80 by 40 by 9, another 40 by 40 by 7, and the last only about 25 by 30 by 5. (Small ponds work better for intensive aquaculture as they are quicker to drain and fill, seine etc.) He will have to move some earth around, but not very far. What can't be used on the premises my neighbor will allow me to take over and spread on his field.

What do you think? $1000.00 per day sound reasonable?


If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.






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I forgot that he said it would take 3 to 4 days.


If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.






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Here in Wisconsin a good sized backhoe is $95 per hour, A bulldozer is $65-95 an hour depending on size, a dump truck is $65 per hour.

I paid well over $1000 per day for my pond work, and it was a cash deal. There were 2 men working on it. Get a set price if you can. Excavators are number 1 on charging more than estimated. $1000 a day seems fine but if it takes a few extra days it gets expensive fast.

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Cecil, That comes to $125.00 per hour for an 8 hour day. If he is providing multiple pieces of equipment, being operated full time, it may be ok. For a dozer or loader it seems high.

However, some of the oil field guys with the newer, more powerful equipment are getting that here.

All in all, I think I would ask for a written estimate with hourly rates. I would be careful. Remember, a dozer has more than one speed and some operators are much more efficient than others.

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Many pond builders charge by how many cubic yards of dirt are moved. Sheep's foot roller is very important in pond construction and packing a core trench even in high clay soils. If they don't have a double barrel sheepsfoot roller I don't even ask them for an estimate.

Get your price for each pond completed not by the day. They can prolong work for extra dollars.


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I would be very skeptical of anyone bidding a job on a "per day" basis. Too many variables. A little late showing up, a little early quitting, a machine breaking down, an opertor not showing up. What adjustments would be made based on those factors?

I think only the government would accept bids like that!.

We would all like a "firm" price for budgeting purposes, but I would prefer having a customer-contrator relationship with the ability to make adjustments during the job to ensure a quality end product.

probably the greatest single asset a customer needs is refernces of the contractor and a basic price rate for the going hourly rate.

good luck on your project.

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The best guys around here get about $100/hour. It goes down from that rate. Get a list of his references and call them. I'm a firm believer in "You get what you pay for". If this guy's top notch, then he's not too far off the mark.

If it were my money, I'd try to make sure that one day equals 10 hours. Good luck.



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i will be nice the way i say this,but you are crazy if you cut this guy loose on your project without a set price.he will break it off in you at 1,000.00 per day.that's not a bad deal if he does it in the amount of days the two of you agree on,but guess what 1,000.00 a day cost when he tells you it will take a 3-4 days longer because of this and that.good luck.

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I think that around here if you were to try and hold someone to a fixed price you would get over charged more often than not. Fixed price means they have to charge you for "risk" and that costs a lot of money. There are so many unknowns on both sides of a good sized pond project.

The most important issue is whether you develope a trust between you and your contractor. You need to have a mutually fair situation so that he does not get hosed by surprizes he may find under ground and you don't pay "risk" dollars for problems that don't happen.

Bottom line is that you pay now or pay latter. Get referenceces, See a job they are doing now in your area, be there while they work, (not to be too nosey but to work with them on "on the fly modifications or changes" that may be needed)and trust your gut.

Good luck.

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Cecil - I hate to sound stupid , but thinking about having a small bait pond dug . what is a core trench ? . Harvey

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i agree with lee,you better get a flat rate.this guy might be on time but, he might bite you for 3-4 extra days.that's alot of money when you thought it was a 4,000.00 job to start with.also i would check with other people to see how good of a job he did for them.

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Cecil, this may or may not help but based on hiring excavators and gravel companies professionally, we use a rule of thumb to estimate their costs of approximately $0.5 each time a ton (approximately 0.68 yards) of material is moved. This number is accurate for excavation, loading, etc, dozer work is a little different. If it has to be excavated, allowed to dry then loaded into a truck that's $1 per ton. Keep in mind that we always pay by the ton so they bust their hump to get in and get out as quickly as possible. This may give you some idea of the profit associated with the job on a per ton basis. If you are paying by the hour (as the posts indicate above) it's a big gray area. Keep in mind that fuel prices may inflate costs a little this year.

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Cecil,
The cubic yardage figures per pond are 1066 cu. yd., 415 cu. yd., and 139 cu yd. This gives a total yardage of 1620 yds. @ $2.00 a yard would be $3240.
The county average here in east central Kansas for soil conservation ponds is $1.45. The core trench yardage is a pay item. Ponds Homepage Three ponds I built at around one dollar a yard (to cheap). The top pond was an abandoned Rail Road fill.
If he would core the dams, save some topsoil and retopsoil the dams, and get it all done for $2 a cu yd it would be a fair deal.
I would suggest asking for a not to exceed price.
Also specify how deep you think the core should be dug. And if he plans to topsoil the dams.
Good luck.


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Cecil,
My yardage figures are a little high because I didn't take slopes into account.
I figured square holes.

Kent Henderson


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