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If it's too good to be true....

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

In this blog post we'd like to talk about landscaping, prices and red flags. We've recently been asked to conduct estimates for quite a few people who have already had their gardens and fences updated within the last year. Why? Surely, if they've already invested in their outside spaces it makes no sense to be asking for new estimates - right? Well sadly, these estimates have been to rectify works done, recently, that haven't been exactly what the client bargained for and it happens more often than anyone would like.

We sometimes get the feedback that our estimates have been higher than others and, put quite simply, there's a reason for this.

We sometimes get the feedback that our estimates have been higher than others and, put quite simply, there's a reason for this. We take a lot of pride in building outside spaces and fences to last. Cheapest isn't always cheerful and it's heartbreaking for us to see people's hard earned money squandered.

We've seen sub standard work, gardens left unfinished, fences blown down that were only installed in November last year and, in one case, a serious drainage issue that has left a client with a swimming pool instead of a patio. This means costly corrective work is now needed for his garden to even be accessible.

While we know that all companies have different overheads, different team sizes and their pricing will vary, the standard you receive for your money should be a quality one. So, with that in mind, we'd like to talk to you about 'red flags' that if you spot one - it may be time for another estimate!

Doing your own homework and checking out the companies you've trusted to visit your property is key to minimising problems later. Here's our advice on what to look for at each stage:

Before you ask for an estimate
  • Check out the companies' social media pages and website if they have one.

  • See if they have any reviews - are they, in the most part, positive? One negative review doesn't make a bad company but many would be a worry.

  • How long have they been trading?

  • Do they offer a full written estimate?

  • How do they store your data?

  • Have they worked for people more than once? Repeat business is a good sign people have had a good experience.

  • Is there a contract that protects you and the company in the event of any problems?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, brilliant!

When they visit

Next up is during the estimate appointment:

  • Did they arrive when arranged? This may sound a small thing but can set the tone for things to come. Delays can happen, we're only human, but did they contact you?

  • Can they offer sound advice on materials?

  • Can they offer suggestions for design or tell you when something perhaps isn't the right choice? Companies who don't, could be setting you up for a product or installation failure.

  • Do they know regulations for sub bases? Their estimates are likely to be less if not, as the materials bill will potentially be less.

  • Do they know about drainage solutions and regulations for paving near a damp proof course, for example? Getting this wrong can be a costly mistake down the line - and can even affect your home insurance!

  • Can they answer your questions? Nobody knows everything, but any legitimate company will be able to answer most queries or offer to find you a solution.

  • Do you like them? We've said this before but it really counts towards a good working relationship.

If they seem knowledgeable, fantastic!

When they supply the estimate

Now, when you've received the estimate you can compare pricing. You might want to think about:

  • What size company are they?

  • Do they charge VAT? This is unavoidable for some businesses and, while it makes them more expensive, it's worth mentioning.

  • Do they explain how your money is going to be spent? Is the estimate detailed? Ask questions if there's anything you don't understand, an honest company will happily answer them.

  • Do they include processes other companies haven't? Why? Companies that 'cut corners' can be cheaper but if key processes are missed, this can cause all kinds of issues later.

  • How many staff will they utilise on your project?

  • Do they invest in their team? Do they train them to be safe and up to date?

  • Which materials have they included? Does each company offer the same quality/standard?

  • Are they insured properly? You can always ask for proof of this.

  • How and when do they ask for payment and for what? Without a contract this can cause problems later if things don't go to plan.

Recent clients enjoying their new garden

“As in many areas of life, saving money on your landscaping in the short term can cost you big in the long run. Base your decision not just on cost, but on solid research and checking out credentials you can trust, and you won’t go far wrong.” Matt Allwright, BBC Rogue Traders

Cheap isn't always best and getting the best value for your money is more important now than ever. While a cheaper price will seem enticing, paying cheap can sometimes, though not always, mean paying twice. It's worth noting, that businesses also have to meet the challenges of costs increasing so be mindful of this too. They need to pay their staff a fair wage and meet their own overheads. This doesn't mean companies have the right to charge over the odds but, as we've seen first hand recently, too cheap really can be a false economy.

To request an appointment with us visit our website here

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