How To Choose A Landscaper

How to choose a landscaper. A short guide with downloadable checklist to point you in the right direction as to who to employ to landscape your garden.

Choosing a Landscaper

You have made your mind up to have your garden landscaped but who do you choose? Google landscapers in your area and there will be many pages of landscapers offering their services to be the right people to take on your project. Finding a landscaper is very much like finding any other company person to do a job for you. The main difference is that getting someone in to fit a boiler or lay a carpet may take just an hour or two. You will be dealing with a landscaper for a number of weeks or even months.


Below is a list of considerations that you may wish to have in mind if you are in the position of hiring a landscaper. There are many points here which I would be personally consider important enough on their own merit to choose whether I would employ a landscaper but it is for you to decide what you are looking for from a professional landscaper. It may not an easy job but and takes a bit of time, but it is worth the small investment in time for the amount of money you are going to spend.

Do your homework and check the landscaper out online before you approach them in person.


You have committed to contact a select number from the list above. How can I decide who to choose from there?

12: What are your second impressions?
13: Are they perceptive and interested in your project?
14: Have you been given a full written quotation or estimate on company letterheaded paper?
15: Is the quote or estimate clear as to exactly what it is actually for?
16: Which specifications have been used to price the works?
17: Have you been offered a schedule of payments or are you asked for all the money up front?
18: Have you been supplied with a client brief?
19: Have you been supplied with a scaled plan of the works detailed on the estimate?
20: Do the company have the correct insurance to complete the job they have quoted for?
21: Do they have a Waste Carriers’ Licence?
22: Have you been offered you got a contract for the works?
23: Have Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) regulations been discussed?
24: Has health and safety of the job been thought about?
25: Do the company work from a mobile number or are they working with a fixed landline?
26: Do the company provide welfare facilities for their staff?
27: Can they supply you with references?
28: Is the company VAT registered?
29: Is the landscaper a one-man band or company with employees?
30: Can they do the job ‘Straight away'?
31: Are the landscapers responsive to your needs?
32: Are you collecting bids from different landscapers?
33: Do you like them?
34: Have they done what they said they were going to do?
35: Do they have exceptional customer service?
36: Have you checked the company out on www.gov.uk?
37: Are they reliable?
38: Are you falling for the dream or are you getting what you want?
39: Who will actually do doing the works?
40: What's your gut feeling?

That’s a long list of questions but remember, you are not spending £5, £25 or even £225 on a purchase here. This is going to be a spend of thousands of pounds. If you were buying a car would you just buy the first car you saw in the first garage you looked in?

 

To expand on the questions above, here are a few of our thoughts and pointers for you to consider.

 

1: What is their website like?

The very first thing you do is Google the term ‘landscaper’ in their area. Great start. Check what you are looking at however and whether you are happy with the options from Google page 1. Many will be sponsored, and the rest are probably good at getting their web site to the top of the rest of the list, not necessarily great at landscaping. Whilst on the site, check out if the web address is http:// rather than https:// . If you are entering your name and address onto a site without the ‘s’ it is probably not secure as the data is not data encrypted

Kirman Design: You are looking at our web site right now and we hope you like it.

 

2: What are your first impressions of the company?

Looking at company web sites gives a good indication of what you are going to get from the company themselves. Does the site look good, work well, have lots of photographs of their own (not somebody else’s) work on? This is difficult to check at this point, but worth bearing in mind.

Kirman Design: We are professional, enjoy what we do and seek to do the best job we can with any given project and budget.

 

3: Are they members of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL)?

Being a member of a trade organisation is a great start to choosing if the landscaper is trying to show they are different, better or want to set themselves apart from other companies competing for your business. The Association of Professional Landscapers) is one of the two trade organisations which landscapers can apply to be members of. Although any landscapers can apply to be members, traditionally APL landscapers undertake work for domestic clients and are smaller in size although now this is becoming less the case. To become a member, the landscaper:

  • Must have been trading for a minimum of 2 years.

  • Must go through a rigorous inspection process.

  • Must get at least six client references from previous clients.

  • Must be inspected both on site and in the office yearly.

  • Must adhere to a high level of health and safety standards.

  • Must prove that the business is being professionally run, so they must prove they have the correct insurance etc.

Nothing is fool proof. Ask the landscaper when their last inspection was, and maybe even what mark they received. Members are marked with a percentage and the nearer they get to100%, the better/more they are compliant with the assessment. There is a minimum mark to achieve to pass but this is a pretty elusive figure to get your hands on, even for members!

More information: https://www.landscaper.org.uk

Kirman Design: Kirman Design are members of the Association of Professional Landscapers.

 

4: Are they members of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)?

BALI is the other trade organisation that landscapers can apply to be members of. Traditionally, BALI members tend to be larger companies with a larger turnover and tend to deal mainly with commercial clients and maintenance contracts although again, the boundaries are blurring somewhat with this. To become a member, the landscaper:

  • Must have been trading for a minimum of 2 years.

  • Must be a business, section of a business or a division of a business that sells landscape construction or maintenance /design products.

  • Must pass the organisations vetting procedure.

  • Agree to abide by the associations Code of conduct and Terms and Conditions.

More information: https://www.bali.org.uk

Kirman Design: We are currently in the application process of becoming BALI members.

 

5: Are the company 'Trustmarked'?

TrustMark is the Government Endorsed Quality Scheme covering work a consumer chooses to have carried out in or around their home. When a consumer uses a TrustMark Registered Business, they know they are engaging an organisation that has been thoroughly vetted to meet required standards and has made a considerable commitment to good customer service, technical competence and tradingpractices.

Key Consumer Benefits

  • Delivering confidence with consumers, and choice through Government Endorsed Quality.

  • TrustMark provides a level playing field of quality and assurance, regardless of the type of trade you are seeking to engage.

  • Enhanced protection through their network of Scheme Providers and Trading Standards integration, in the event that things do go wrong.

  • TrustMark provides a range of free advice and information to homeowners, empowering them with the knowledge and choice to make the best decisions when it comes to improving their homes and gardens.

APL members (above) are automatically members of the TrustMark scheme but you do not need to be members of the APL to become a TrustMark member.


More information: https://www.trustmark.org.uk

Kirman Design: Kirman Design are a TrustMarked Company.

 

6: What are their reviews like?

Looking at Google, Facebook and other web sites may give you an indication of what the company are like. Most have a comparatively small number of reviews and that is because landscapers are not selling lots and lots of things to lots of people. They undertake small quantities of jobs per year, sometimes in single figures if they are large jobs. The odd poor review should not put you off but look for reviews written by friends and family and look for the genuine reviews which are helpful. Do check that any reviews sound genuine and not formulaic?

More information: https://www.google.com/maps

Kirman Design: We are more than happy for you to look at our reviews on all the review sites. Here is the Google’s site.

 

7: Consider the depth and breadth of their work.

Does the company’s web site show a wide range of work represented? For example, if you are looking for a Koi carp pond being built, then it would probably not be the best plan to look at company that have lots of driveway photographs on the site. It’s also worth looking at the detail in the projects too; materials which are used and the way they have been finished. If you have a project which is unusual or awkward or different in some way, then you might not find the same project represented online but you will be able to see if the company are capable of adapting to clients’ needs and briefs.


Kirman Design: At Kirman Design, the client is the focus of everything we do. This is why we have a design process to get to the bottom of what the client’s actually need and what is possible, physically and within any given budget. We have a wide variety of work we can show you from tiny gardens, driveways and traditional gardens through to contemporary and experimental show gardens. Please feel free to browse our landscaping and garden design portfolio. We have many of our other projects we can show you if you give us more information about what you are looking for.

 

8: Have the company got an office?

Not imperative but really good to be able to go in, have a chat with the people that you are potentially going to employ. At that point you can see how they present themselves and ask lots of questions about your project. It would be helpful if you take in some photographs of the site and also think about a realistic budget for your garden.

Kirman Design: We have an office located at Bents Garden & Home in Glazebury, Cheshire. We do work across the northwest but being located at ‘Garden Centre of the Year’ does help us be accessible to our clientele across a wider range of hours. We open at 8:30am and close at 4pm, 7 days per week. Just give us a quick call if you are coming specifically just so we can make sure we are not on a site visit.

 

9: Have they won any awards?

Again, not imperative but useful to know if they have. The pinnacle of awards in the horticultural industry is an RHS Gold medal. These are hard fought for and generally well-deserved medals which are achieved from exhibiting in RHS shows. Some say they are ‘RHS medal winners’ and generally this means they are Bronze, Silver or Silver-Gilt awards rather than gold. Southport Flower Show is an independent show obviously based in Southport. It also has categories for show gardens. Show gardens can be built in a variety of styles and funded by various sources so you may see gardens with sponsors products strategically placed or you may see way out gardens which you would never build for a client but show gardens are about ideas and pushing the boundaries

More information: The RHS: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events Southport Flower Show: http://www.southportflowershow.co.uk/

Kirman Design: Kirman Design have won many awards for both our design and landscape construction including RHS Gold. A full list can be viewed here.

 

10: Do they have a good reputation?

All companies permanently seek to have a great reputation as this is the foundation of business success but it is for you to see what is important to you with regards to a company’s reputation, through all the points that are covered here.


Kirman Design: Have a look at our web site, come in and talk to us, speak to our previous clients if you wish. We have been located at Bents Garden & Home for the past 13 years and members of the Association of Professional Landscapers for over 10 years. We offer a bespoke service, deliver great customer service, have staff that are respected and happy in their jobs and we take a holistic approach to all aspects of the business.

 

11: Do they interact professionally with social media?

Not a deal breaker, but it is a good indicator of the company of the way the company operates. A company that interacts with other professionals and clients says one thing whilst another that shares family photographs, political views or cat videos says something different.


Kirman Design: Please feel free to view out social media accounts. The links are located below:



You have taken the plunge and chosen to call or go and see a landscaper. What do I need to look for at this point?

12: What are your second impressions?

Second impressions? Yes, that’s right. You are meeting them in person for the first time rather than through the anonymity of the web so it’s a good chance to see if they are smart in appearance and turn up on time.

Kirman Design: All the company wear shirts with logos and names on their shirts. Our vans are not sign written as it tends to be a magnet for thieves unfortunately, but we do try our best to keep them clean!

 

13: Are they perceptive and interested in your project?

If they just give you a blank look then there is something wrong. Whilst chatting to you about what you want, they should give you some advice, ask lots of questions and at least stay long enough to get to grips with the tasks in hand. Ask them how many years they have been operating.

Kirman Design: Kirman Design have been operating since 2006, so we have many years of experience to tackle anything that a client asks us to do. We will spend as long as it takes to get all the information we need from you. If you are coming into the office, it will help if you bring photographs of the space. We will also make you a brew if you want to get warm or refresh your thirst!

 

14: Have you been given a full written quotation or estimate on company letterheaded paper?

You should have been given either a detailed quotation or estimate which lists all the works in detail, or a simple quotation or estimate with a cost on which links to a detailed specification. All this should be printed on company letterheaded notepaper.

Kirman Design: We give a full written estimate for all projects which are dated and detail the works that we have actually incorporated. If appropriate, this will include drawing(s) and specifications.

 

15: Is the quote or estimate clear as to exactly what it is actually for?

Any paperwork involving the cost of a project should include all relevant sizes, material types and as necessary, method of construction.

Kirman Design: We will provide a detailed estimate with all materials, sizes and dimensions where appropriate, specifications used to base the estimate on.

 

16: Which specifications have been used to price the works?

This is one of the most contentious issues of all when getting estimates, especially when you are getting like for like estimates or quotes. The trade organisations don’t want to touch this issue with a barge pole and in fairness, this is because each construction project is different, so the specifications will be different. This is sometimes used as a fob off however as there are basic minimum specifications that should be in place no matter what the job. A really common question should be “How deep are the foundations for my patio?” People very rarely ask they question as you can’t see these at the end of the day. The issue is that this is really important, in fact fundamental to how your patio, wall or other structure is going to perform in years to come. Your estimate should clearly say the minimum depth that is being dug out. This is even more important when you are getting like for like estimates. If one company dig out half the amount as the other, they save on skips to dig out, material to put back and plant hire and labour to do both. This can add up to thousands of pounds over a big area and if you don’t know what both estimates are based upon, how are you going to know if one is cheap and one is expensive? It’s like comparing apples with pears! So where do you find out such information? Well, there is a distinct lack of information available about specifications in the industry generally but Paving Expert (see below) is a good place to start. Manufacturers brochures like Marshalls or Bradstone also would be a good place to look. It’s boing but worth it.

More information: Short of any national or common agreement on what specifications should be, a good start to look at what the specifications should look like can be found on the ‘Paving Expert’ website: http://www.pavingexpert.com/
Kirman Design: Kirman Design have a full set of specifications which are based either on industry best practice, British Standards (BS) or manufacturers guidelines. These are given out with estimates and are available from Kirman Design. If you have any questions about industry specifications, please give us a call on 01942 604976.

 

17: Have you been offered a schedule of payments or are you asked for all the money up front?

If there is no schedule of payments listed in the estimate or otherwise on offer, then why not? Landscapers have to fund a great deal of materials, sometimes up front so asking for a deposit and staged payments is standard practice. There should be a payment at the end too which is only payable after the works have been completed and snagged.

Kirman Design: We will always give out a schedule of payments with any contract acceptance. The deposit is usually due two or three weeks before the works are due to start. We have staged weekly payments from then on until the end of the project with a final payment due when the works are completed. Sometimes this gets broken up if for example we are waiting to plant the garden due to the season or due to weather. This is fair as there could be a point where we are owed thousands of pounds for the sake of planting a few plants or a snag something which we are waiting for the weather for and costs very little. Like most companies, we are quite small and our cashflow is really important.

 

18: Have you been supplied with a client brief?

A client brief should have all the pertinent details about what you require within your garden. It will list all the things which you are needing which will fall within the scope of the works which are being quoted or estimated for.

Kirman Design: We will complete a client brief after discussing your project and will be given to you nearer to the beginning of the project. This gives us our direction with regards to the design and scope of works.

 

19: Have you been supplied with a scaled plan of the works detailed on the estimate?

Having a scaled plan is really important for you to know exactly what you you are actually going to get and where everything is going to go. There is little point thinking later that your patio is not big enough to fit your furniture onto when the build is nearly finished!

Kirman Design: We will always produce a plan for the works we have quoted for with the exception of a few jobs which it is not necessary.

 

20: Do the company have the correct insurance to complete the job they have quoted for?

What insurance do landscapers need?

• Vehicle insurance. (This will cover their vehicles and damage done to client’s vehicles or property).

• Public liability insurance (Not a legal requirement but essential if companies are interacting with members of the public. It covers clients and their property if they are damaged or injured as a result of the works undertaken on site).

• Product liability insurance. (This will cover personal injury or property damage caused by products sold or supplied through a business).

• Plant insurance (This covers machinery for example diggers and dumpers etc. Theft and damage caused from them on site).

Kirman Design: We have all the above insurance in place for our and our client’s peace of mind.

 

21: Do they have a Waste Carriers’ Licence?

You must register for a waste carriers’ licence if you transport waste, buy, sell or dispose of waste or arrange for someone else to buy, sell or dispose of waste. This includes garden waste and companies can be fined up to £5,000 if they do the any of the above and don’t register.

More information: The Environment Agency register for waste carriers licences.
Kirman Design: See our waste carriers licence here.

 

22: Have you been offered you got a contract for the works?

Where you are having a few plants installed or taking on a large garden transformation, all projects are covered with a contract. If you do not have a piece of paper, then there is still a legal agreement between yourselves and the company carrying out the works. In order to iron out all the potential if’s buts and wherefores, you should receive a written contract from the company. Don’t be afraid of this. It is as much for your sake as it is for theirs. Don’t just sign it without looking at it. It might be dry in content but read it as there maybe things in there you do not agree with!

More information: Citizen’s Advice
Kirman Design: Kirman Design contracts are based on the Federation of Small Business contracts with various additions to make it specific to our business.

 

23: Have Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) regulations been discussed?

Whatever your role in construction, and that includes the person commissioning the works (the client), CDM aims to improve health and safety in the industry by helping you to:

  • Sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish.

  • Have the right people for the right job at the right time.

  • Cooperate and coordinate your work with others.

  • Have the right information about the risks and how they are being managed.

  • Communicate this information effectively to those who need to know.

  • Consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed.

A domestic client is any individual who has construction work carried out on their home, or the home of a family member, that is not done as part of any business. While CDM 2015 places client duties on commercial clients in full, such duties for domestic clients normally pass to:

  • The contractor, if it is a single contractor project, who must take on the legal duties of the client in addition to their own as contractor. In practice, this should involve little more than what they normally do in managing health and safety risks.

  • The principal contractor, for projects with more than one contractor, who must take on the legal duties of the client in addition to their own as principal contractor. If the domestic client has not appointed a principal contractor, the client duties must be carried out by the contractor in control of the construction work.

If a domestic client has appointed an architect (or other designer) on a project involving more than one contractor, they can ask them to manage the project and take on the client duties instead of the principal contractor. The designer then takes on the responsibilities of principal designer and must have a written agreement with the domestic client, confirming they have agreed (as principal designer) to take on the client duties as well as their own responsibilities.

Any designer in charge of coordinating and managing a project is assumed to be the principal designer. However, if they do not have a written agreement with the domestic client to confirm they are taking on the client duties, those duties automatically pass to the principal contractor.

More information: The Health & Safety Executive guide to CDM regulations for the domestic consumer.
Kirman Design: CDM duties are taken on by Kirman Design as the principle contractor or by Kirman Design as the principle designer if Kirman Design have designed the garden also.

 

24: Has health and safety of the job been thought about?

Before the job starts, the company needs to think through each part of the job and work out what the risks are going to be when the job is undertaken. This should be covered with risk assessments. Companies of less than 5 employees don’t have to write any risk assessments down on paper but they still need to do the assessments non-the-less. The risk assessments are not just about staff on site doing the work, they cover everyone on that site including clients, children, delivery drivers and other people coming onto the site so it is important that it is done.

More information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm
Kirman Design: Kirman Design complete a set of risk assessments before the works commence and site/job specific assessments are stored in the site van.

 

25: Do the company work from a mobile number or are they working with a fixed landline?

Using a mobile number for a business is not in itself wrong, it just doesn’t instil much confidence with the fact that the company may not be around for long or indeed exists at all. There maybe problems if you contact them in case of a problem with a guarantee in years to come? Check the company has a physical location advertised.

Kirman Design: Our office number is 01942 604976.

 

26: Do the company provide welfare facilities for their staff?

All employers must provide welfare facilities for their staff however short the employment period is). They must ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ provide appropriate welfare facilities for staff whilst at work. Welfare facilities are those that are necessary for the well-being of their employees, such as washing, toilet, rest and changing facilities, and somewhere clean to eat and drink during breaks. There are 3 or 4 people working on building your back garden. Ask yourself this question: Where will they be going to the toilet? Why not ask your prospective landscaper the same question as you really don’t want them weeing in the shrubbery…

More information: The Health and Safety Executive
Kirman Design: Kirman Design will provide an on-site toilet on site for all employees for any works of 4 or more days or less if the client agrees. Toilets have sinks in them which can be used for washing their hands. This included in the estimate you will be given. On smaller jobs where a client does not want us to have a toilet on site, the staff on site will use a local public toilet or supermarket. They will not wee on your Rhododendrens!

 

27: Can they supply you with references?

This is sometimes really important for a client to go and talk to people that have had work done with them in the past. Going and looking at work is great as you get a first-hand look at what the company’s handiwork. Don’t be surprised if this is more difficult to a company than it sounds as not everyone wants prospective clients turning up on their doorstep each week. The other issue is that clients sometimes don’t look after the gardens that are built quite as well as the companies either would like or how they left them so they may not be that keen on passing on details for that reason either. The other issue is that they are hardly going to send you around to clients that they built a poor job for either so it’s a little more complicated as to what would be achieved with this.

Kirman Design: We can always put you in touch with people that we have done work for if you really want. We may not be able to find clients with a garden perfectly like the one you have. If you look at our reputation with being members of the APL, BALI and the Society of Garden Designers then that goes a good way in explaining the way we are proud of what we do and the fact that we proud of the work we do.

 

28: Is the company VAT registered?

Not strictly speaking a method of checking whether the landscapers are any good but… with half to two thirds of the cost of a job taken up with materials then assuming that the current UK VAT limit is £85,000, this threshold is reached very quickly. Assume for example, that a landscaper works all year, this means they will hit the VAT limit at around week 35 out of 52. The question is then, what happens for the remainder of the 17 weeks? Do they just work part of the year then holiday in Barbados, or is there something fishy going on with their tax arrangements? There may be nothing wrong with what they are doing but good to know what is going on to ensure you are not embroiled in any HMRC tax investigations. May also be worth checking that their VAT number is valid. It won’t be the first time a false VAT number has been added to an invoice and the 20% is pocketed by the owners.

More information: European VAT number checker
Kirman Design: Kirman Design are VAT registered. Our VAT number is: 983832969.

 

29: Is the landscaper a one-man band or company with employees?

Nothing wrong with ‘One-man bands’, in fact some of the best landscapers we know are one man bands. Most of the time, this is a commercial choice as it is rarely simple to grow a business successfully with all the necessary skills needed in one person. The problem starts when you have a one-man band and they are about to start on Monday and have gone down with flu and the job gets delayed by a week or two as it’s just them. They also have to do everything on site, ordering, dealing with customer enquiries, problems with deliveries, taking them away from the main business at hand: your garden!

Kirman Design: We are a company operating with between 4 and 6 people and bring specialist skilled contractors in when necessary. The office runs the administration of the jobs whilst the landscapers on site get on with what they are skilled and skilled at: landscaping.

 

30: Can they do the job ‘Straight away'?

The landscaping industry have peaks and troughs as with other outdoor based industries. With the best will in the world we cannot just jump at the drop of a hat and get on with the work the day after it has been agreed. Well, most cannot as they plan their work out ahead of them and generally, we are pretty busy. If a landscaper can actually do the work pretty much immediately then you need to think carefully why this is the case as it does not happy that often to professional landscapers!

Kirman Design: We are busy all year round and have a queuing system so everyone waits in turn. We find this the fairest way of approaching the problem. We still have peaks and troughs so if you came to us in October, you would only have a shorter than in April/May onwards.

 

31: Are the landscapers responsive to your needs?

Have they listened to what you want, or are they just delivering the same plants, the same stone, the same design as all the other jobs they have done? If they have listened, your garden should look excactly how you want it, not how they want to build it!

Kirman Design: Every job is unique. We build a wide variety of landscaping works for the wide variety of people that want us to work for them. Have a look at our landscaping portfolio and design portfolio to see how we tailor each build to the space and to the client. Look at your prospective landscaper’s portfolio and see if they show a wide variety of skills, work and planting styles and see how they compare.

 

32: Are you collecting bids from different landscapers?

Have you got other landscapers giving you estimates/quotes? This can be a good way to check the amounts of money you are being told that it is going to cost is not just pie in the sky.

Kirman Design: If you are getting other quotes that is good. Just make sure you are comparing like with like. You need a full specification with drawings in order to get like for like costings. There is little point getting quotes from two separate companies for ‘exactly the same jobs’ when one is for example digging a drive out to put a foundation in of say 300mm when the exact same drive material is quoted at 20% cheaper from another company and they are putting in a foundation which is 150mm. Quality of workmanship apart, of course it will be cheaper. The second is saving money on skips to remove waste, material to fill in the hole, labour to complete these tasks and of course the VAT element which is part of these costings. Know what the specification is first, then getting prices for that specification the key.

 

33: Do you like them?

Simple… do they smile, are they happy, can you get on with them. “I don’t need to get on with them” I hear you say. Well, maybe not, but you will have them around for weeks, maybe months so we think it’s really important that both parties get on.

Kirman Design: I’d like to think we are pretty amiable company and are and want to

 

34: Have they done what they said they were going to do?

Did they turn up on time? Did they call you back when they said they would do? Did you have to chase them all the time for information or an estimate? If the answer to these questions is ‘Yes’ then do they really want your work?

Kirman Design: We get very busy, especially in spring so it may not be a reply in minutes if it’s not a straightforward question or a complicated job to price, but we will tell you at the time when we will aim to get back to you so you are not wondering if we have forgotten you. We are not perfect, but we do try to get back to you as soon as possible, even if sometimes that is difficult. We will always keep you informed as to where we are with things however if we are not going to get back to you when we said we would.

 

35: Do they have exceptional customer service?

If you don’t feel you are getting great customer service now, you certainly won’t get great customer service when the job starts to go wrong and things aren’t quite as rosy as they looked on the web site…

Kirman Design: We are based at Bents Garden & Home. Bents are renowned for great customer service and this carries through to all the concessions on the Bents site.

 

36: Have you checked the company out on www.gov.uk?

Companies House is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. You can get some information for free about companies that are incorporated here. Incorporating a business means turning your sole proprietorship or general partnership into a company formally recognised by your state of incorporation. When a company incorporates, it becomes its own legal business structure set apart from the individuals who founded the business.

The information available includes:

  • Company information, for example registered address and date of incorporation.

  • Current and resigned officers

  • Some document images

  • Mortgage charge data

  • Previous company names

  • Insolvency information

You can also set up free email alerts to tell you when a company updates its details (for example, a change of director or address).

More information: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company
Kirman Design: Kirman Design do not appear on this search as the company legal entity is ‘Sole Trader’. This does not mean there is just one person in the company, it’s just a legal term for a company not incorporated.

37: Are they reliable?

Difficult to tell this information from a web site or just by talking to them. References of other people they have worked with might help

Kirman Design: 99.9% of the time we do what we say we are going to do. We are not perfect though and do have ’senior moments’ occasionally for which we apologise for right now! The rest of the time we do what we plan on doing, after all, it really isn’t in our interest to not to!

 

38: Are you falling for the dream or are you getting what you want?

Have you ever bought into a dream and at the end of the process, were still not quite sure whether you got what you want? It can be really easy to get sucked into a dream whilst discussing the joys of sipping glasses of prosecco on the patio on endless sunny summer afternoons by the pool!

Kirman Design: We are not salesmen. We will tell you what we think, warts and all. Sometimes it’s not what people want to hear but at least you will get the truth about how it is from us, like it or not.

 

39: Who will actually do doing the works?

You have bought into the company’s ideas, and sales chatter. You have checked out their insurance documents and feel you want to contract them to build your garden project. Are the people actually building the garden, the same people that you have just checked out? Ask the question. If they are not then you need to find out who they are and do due diligence with these companies too, after all, they might have no qualifications, insurance and could be nothing like the glossy web site promised. There are a couple of reasons for this. Either the company is really busy, and they are sub-contacting work out to others or they are acting as a go between client and landscaper. If this is the case, then it may be worth asking the question about commission and who is paying what to whom. This can be legitimate but worth checking as sometimes financial agreements have been made behind clients backs which are at best ethically questionable and worst, illegal.

Kirman Design: On occasion, we do sub-contract work to other companies. The guarantee is still a Kirman Design guarantee however and Kirman Design will always project manage the works to make sure the standard of works is just as high as it would be as if we had done it ourselves. Kirman Design generally only use APL or BALI registered companies to undertake such works. No additional fees are paid either way by us for whatever reason under these circumstances.

 

40: What's your gut feeling?

Lastly, how do you feel about them? It’s a simple question. Did you like them? What is your gut feel? Do you get a warm feeling inside that they will probably do a good job or are your alarm bells ringing not to touch them with a barge pole?

Kirman Design: We hope you do like us. Pop into the office and we can discuss your project over coffee, and you can see for yourself what you think.

Other information: Citizen’s Advice - “Before you get building work done.”

To help you with your choices, we have produced a simple checklist that you can download and print to use with the notes above. The file is in pdf format. If you need a viewer then please click here.