When calling a contractor for an estimate on building a wall, it’s important to know how the estimate is actually calculated. This gives the customer a better idea of what they are paying for and of different charges they may incur in the event they want to change their mind about one or more aspects of the wall. Having this information can also save the customer some unexpected costs, and prevents frustration when making changes to the original plan.
Many people assume that the cost of building a wall is based simply on the height of the wall. However, this is really not true. Most of the labor that goes into building a wall involves the prep process. The crew has to dig and level the ground, and put down the footing for the wall. This is the majority of the work, and after the footing is placed stacking and mortaring the blocks is actually the less difficult part of the process. Therefore, approximately 60 percent of the estimate will be based on the labor involved in placing the footing for the wall. The other 40 percent accounts for the actual materials and stacking the blocks. Obviously, the type of materials chosen for the wall will impact the final estimate, but perhaps not as much as one would think.
It surprises many customers to know that it’s usually unsafe to raise the height of the wall once the prep process has begun. The width and depth of the footing must be proportional to the height of the wall so that the wall will be sturdy and stable. A taller wall will require a wider footing in order to create a well-built structure. Therefore, once the preparation process has begun and the footing has been set, raising the height of the wall is not just a matter of stacking more blocks on top. The entire footing would have to be redone. This also applies to redoing existing walls. Nine times out of ten, a wall has to be torn down and rebuilt if the customer desires a higher wall.
For these reasons, it’s extremely important to decide upon the final height of the wall before beginning construction. The entire estimate depends upon making these and other key decisions in advance, and if plans change it will not be a simple matter of adding a few blocks to the cost of materials.