19
   

Fair Payment for Some Yard Work

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 01:21 pm
I've complained about my very challenging backyard slope before (lots of weeds, hard to get at with the angles and the permanent trees/ plantings). I always tend to get sick this time of year and a couple of years ago my doc said I most likely have a leaf mold allergy.

I tried doing fall clean-up last year anyway with a mask, didn't work. (Got sick.)

Gonna outsource that part this year.

There is a local kid looking for odd jobs including gardening, a junior in high school. I contacted him and asked for rates, he said whatever we pay him is fine. Smile I did find that refreshing. But meanwhile a) I want to be fair, but b) I have hardly any idea what WOULD be fair. We had a crew of professional gardeners at the very beginning who were EXPENSIVE and way more than we'd pay him (they worked for the former homeowners and we wanted to maintain the yard for a bit while we got settled in, we could only afford them for a few months).

I'd guess it would be about three hours of fairly hard work, but not incredibly hard (I've done it for five years). I may add some things on like getting rid of a badly placed small tree.

So, what do you think? Hourly rate, and if so, what? Pay for the whole job rather than hourly (and again if so, what)?

Thanks!
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Type: Question • Score: 19 • Views: 10,676 • Replies: 50
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Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 01:25 pm
@sozobe,
I pay the kids that help me $10 an hour. cash.

my tools, my instructions,

never had a complaint about wages.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 01:26 pm
@Rockhead,
Depends on where you live, but at least the minimum wage.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 02:02 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:

I contacted him and asked for rates, he said whatever we pay him is fine. Smile I did find that refreshing. But meanwhile a) I want to be fair, but b) I have hardly any idea what WOULD be fair.

I don't find that refreshing because it is likely not true. If he negotiated a rate with you in advance, then you would both be satisfied with the result. As it is, you can overpay him and then he's happy or you can underpay him and then he'll tell all his buddies how he worked so hard and you stiffed him, but the chance of you arriving at the right pay scale by chance is slim.

So back to your question, I would offer him a fixed amount equal to the minimum wage times the amount of time you think it should take, have him agree to it beforehand and then throw in a kicker if he did an especially good job, but I wouldn't mention the possibility of a kicker in advance.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 02:09 pm
@engineer,
Agree absolutely with negotiating either a definate hourly rate or fee for the entire job, and I believe hourly is better, since the job might turn out to be bigger or smaller than either of you expect.

Somewhere between minimum wage and ten dollars sounds right, unless the job involves tools or equipment that he will be furnishing. Also more if he is transporting stuff to the dump.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 02:18 pm
@roger,
Those are good caveats. If he has to supply some of his own equipment you should pay more. If the job is skilled labor, then you should pay more. Since this is a job where you know the expected labor hours, I would pay for an entire job rather than hourly so that he can set his own pace. If he chooses to work more slowly because he is new to that type of work, then he can without either of you watching the clock. Likewise if he is industrious or can find a better way to do the work, he can up his effective hourly rate.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 02:51 pm
Are you saying raking leaves?

He could blow them with a blower in 45 minutes and bag them in 15.
So hourly just does not get it, IMHO. Bid this out by the job.

"Getting rid" of a tree is hard labor. Digging, pulling, chopping, etc.
Again, pay by the job.

If you want professional gardeners, then expect to pay for them. Those people are supposed to know pruning techniques and all about plants, fetillizers, planting, etc - so they do have some expertise. They tend to charge by the crew, man hour rates, and have a contract with the homeowner.

Sound like you will be overseeing this young fella and he will get directions from you for doing lawn work. That's a little different.

0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 02:54 pm
@sozobe,
What's the teenage babysitter rate in your area? Maybe you could use that as a guide.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 03:02 pm
@sozobe,
Twice a year we have an older man and his son come in and do yard work. They prune the overgrown climbing rose bushes, pull weeds, rake leaves, and do a general sweeping up of trash and dog poop in both the front and back yards. Last Fall we gave them $60 and a whole turkey for their family's Thanksgiving dinner.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 03:17 pm
@engineer,
Thanks all!

Quote:
I don't find that refreshing because it is likely not true. If he negotiated a rate with you in advance, then you would both be satisfied with the result. As it is, you can overpay him and then he's happy or you can underpay him and then he'll tell all his buddies how he worked so hard and you stiffed him, but the chance of you arriving at the right pay scale by chance is slim.


We will settle on a fee before he actually begins the work. He's coming over to look at what needs to be done, then I'll bring up a fee (that's what I'm trying to figure out), and he'll say yes or no at that point but probably yes. At any rate, there will be a negotiation before the work happens.

Punkey, it's more than just raking leaves, in fact that's the least of it.

The slope I have in mind is a really treacherous swath that I hate dealing with. It's maybe 30 feet by 60 feet (that's a guess), all of it a pretty steep slope. There are two enormous cottonwoods in the middle of that area, and a redbud that's really awkwardly placed*, and honeysuckles that go insane every year and do their best to colonize everything. (I'm talking about 8-foot growth in one season, can't stand those things.)

I cleaned everything up through early summer but since then I haven't done much (the rest of the yard yes, but not that horrible slope), and there are lots of scary weeds, vines, burrs, etc., etc.

There is also poison ivy in there probably -- I got most of it (all I could find) in the last summer clean-up but there always seems to be a bit more.

I want to get that all cleaned up for two reasons: 1) clean slate for next spring and 2) so the slope can be used for sledding if we get snow. (Last year there were too many leftover burrs and wayward honeysuckles and the slope wasn't fun unless it was a really huge snow.)

The slope is mostly covered with pachysandra and ivy, once the weeds are removed (as in it's not only weeds, and will look good once that stuff is removed).

I don't care at all about leaves really, sozlet got most of the leaves from back there (and SHE promptly got sick, probably has the same allergies), the ones that remain can be mulch.

I will provide tools (clippers, gloves, yard waste bags, etc.) and direction.

I'm leaning towards $50 for the job with wiggle room if it turns out to be bigger than expected. Or maybe $15/ hr with the expectation that it'd take about 3 hours.

Would you guys worry about him dragging it out to make more money?

Teen babysitters make about $10/hour.


*That's the small tree I meant, the trunk is maybe 3 inches in diameter, all I'd have in mind is cutting it down and stuffing it in yard bags.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 03:21 pm
@Butrflynet,
The "older man" is Sal. He comes to our house several times during the year to clean up our large front yard and the rear yard. He charges $9.00 per hour because he's retired. I always double his pay because he does a very good job and we've become friends. Dolly and Madison doggies love Sal and he adores them.

BBB
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 04:02 pm
Like rockhead said 10 bucks an hour. If he does a good job give him an extra $10 as a tip, and ask him if he'd like you to recommend him to friends.



0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 06:40 pm
@JPB,
Quote:

What's the teenage babysitter rate in your area? Maybe you could use that as a guide.
I hope that you agree that hard labor should earn more than babysitting....
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 06:49 pm
I agree with Rockhead and Chai.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 06:53 pm
my boy who is 16 says that if babysitting is 10 hard outdoor labor should be $15, with a tip. When I was a kid this kind of job was double the babysitting rate.

He gets about $15 for routine lawn mowing, and the rate for babysitters around here is $8.5-9.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 06:56 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
I hope that you agree that hard labor should earn more than babysitting....


nahhhhhhhh

way more responsibility as a baby sitter than doing grunt work

0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 07:00 pm
Another vote for $10 an hour. I would have been happy as a kid with that. You can always give a bonus at the end if he does a great job.

Throw in sodas and a snack and you're employer of the year, Soz.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 07:06 pm
@sozobe,
I think $50 for the job is good because of the added personal risk factor and I would insist he wear safety gear like gloves and boots, both for his safety and for your liability. If I were doing the job you described, I would be using power tools, but I would not lend power tools out to a teenager who is not experienced in their use.

On an unrelated note, I wouldn't pay a sixteen year old $10/hr for babysitting.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 07:09 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
a sixteen year old $10/hr for babysitting


My youngest is 16 so it has been a few years, but I only paid close to that for unusual situations, like staying out till 2am, or we called her last minute and knew that she dropped something to help us out. $10 for normal kid watching is insane.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2010 07:38 pm
@hawkeye10,
We paid $8/hour for one kid and $10/hour for two kids. We only hire babysitters that have CPR training, though. (I say "paid" because our last regular babysitter just graduated from college and doesn't sit anymore, and we haven't exerted ourselves to find a replacement.)
 

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