Bulk Material Delivery, Homeowner Beware.

As firewood season is upon us, I thought a conversation about bulk material deliveries would be timely.  I was thinking about a client who called me last year asking me how much I would charge to deliver 10 yards of topsoil to his property.  He ended up getting other prices and going with someone he didn’t know who was advertising in the paper.  These clients live up the street and I was riding a bike in the neighborhood at the time of one of their deliveries.  When I saw the client a week later, I asked how many deliveries the company made.  When he told me two, I was confused and asked if he ended up buying 10 yards of soil.  When he said yes, I broke it to him that he didn’t get what he paid for.  He looked confused but I knew that to be the case because it is physically impossible to carry 5 yards of bulk material in a 2-3 yard truck body.  I hate to say it but I think light loads are more common than you would think when you are basing your decision on the lowest price.  A similar story happened to some relatives.  They bought two cords of wood and it was delivered in two pickup trucks.  As a consumer, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to familiarized yourself  with what a yard of bulk material or a cord of wood should look like.  You’ll never be 100% right, especially when it is already dumped on your driveway but as it is being delivered, take notice of the size of the load based on the size of the truck.  A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet or a pile 4′ x 4′ x 8′ and a yard of bulk material is 27 cubic feet or a pile 3’x3’x3′.  Compare that to the back of a short bed pickup truck which is approx. 65 cubic feet.  If a delivery of firewood arrives in the back of a short bed pickup and it is tightly stacked to the top of the sides, it can only be approx. a  1/2 cord.  A long bed pickup is approx. 80 cubic feet.   A small dump truck similar to the picture below is considered a 2-3 yard dump truck.

3 yard dump truck

The best way to protect yourself is to know what size truck is delivering the bulk material and comparing the size of the body to the volume of material in that body. To come up with what a truck body can physically carry, multiply the length of the body by the width by the height and divide by 27.  That calculation will give you how many cubic yards the body can carry.  A little bit of guessing is always a part of the equation due to the fact that a load of bulk material with never arrive sitting in a truck body perfectly level.  Because of that, there is a certain amount of trust involved with ordering bulk materials from a company so dealing with a reputable company is always a good idea.

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Richard Schipul
Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


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