One of my most recent jobs included the erection of 7 – 8 fence panels as well as the removal of a large, 10″ deep concrete base which was previously used to hold a car garage. The owners of the property explained that the reason that there was a random car garage in the middle of their garden was because the previous owner had built the garage himself with the view to creating access from the rear of the garden to bring his car through. Unfortunately, the council denied the owners request to have access from the rear of the garden, even though the garage had already been built! It’s crazy to think that someone would go to building a project that requires permission, before actually getting the permission required!

It’s also good to know that the concrete base removal was an extra that we done, all because we let the customer know that we provide other services as part of our landscaping work, which I will explain in more detail below. If you are looking to start your own gardening or landscaping business, be sure to let the customer know all of the services that you offer.

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How I got the job

I received an online web inquiry which is when someone goes to the website, goes to the contact page, and completes an online form asking for a call back. Our website relies on Google Ad-words for the majority of our traffic which works well with an average budget of £200.00 per month. The inquiry I received was as followed:

“To whom it may concern, I would like a quote if possible for concrete posts, bases and fencing being put in. I am unsure of the amount required but estimate 5-8 each. We are local . Much appreciated.”

I promptly replied with:

“Hi and thank you for your inquiry regarding the fencing needed in your garden. To discuss your needs further, I would love to come and have a look. If this works for you, please let me know your availability”

After a few more emails, Ethan let me know that he works away a lot, but his wife will be in during the week as she is on maternity leave and will be available to see us. So we agreed on a time and day to pop by and have a look. Remember, at this point, all that we think needs doing is the installation of a new garden fence.

How did the price up go?

Me and my business partner Allan arrived at the agreed day and time and was greeted by a polite woman called Kelly, who explained that she had actually just given birth just 2 weeks before! With the baby asleep, Kelly showed us the back garden to have a look at their fencing needs. Having 5 children myself, I found it easy to build a rapport quickly laughing about the kids, and how easy they are when they are so young!

The first thing I noticed was a large car garage where the fence should be, which meant that it wasn’t as easy as counting panels! We measured the distance between the last panel that we could see and the end of the garden before confirming that 8 panels will be needed, or rather 7 and an off cut to reach the end of the garden.

I asked who will be removing the garage to which Kerry explained that their previous builder will be doing the work. I told her that we can also provide the work, and that if they are to get let down to just give us a call for a price. Whilst we were on the subject, I asked if there was anything else in the garden that they’d like to see if we can help with. Kelly showed us a large tree stump from when Ethan had cut down a tree but couldn’t get it any lower, so I let her know that I will include a price for the stump removal and the waste at the back of the garden from where the tree had been cut down with no way of getting rid of it all.

Before leaving, myself and my business partner Allan spent another 10 minutes having a general chit chat about life, the children, where Kerry had grown up (funnily enough in the same place as my business partner, which is by no means local). I feel it’s important to build a friendship when looking at potential jobs, as everyone wants to get along with the person coming to provide work for them! As well as this, if there are 2 companies that have been to quote for a job, and lets say Quote 1 came to £1500 and were lovely people, but Quote 2 came to £1400 but weren’t so pleasant, I am a strong believer that Quote 1 would most likely get the work despite being more expensive. As well as this, be sure to talk about as much as possible, giving advice along the way, as knowledge is everything.

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How much did I quote to erect a new garden fence?

As a landscape gardener, depending on the ground etc., we usually average around 5 panels per day. With this particular job, we had no idea what we would be up against since there was no original fence to look at. As well as this, I saw an average sized tree standing directly in the path of the fence line which I knew would need to come out to be able to put the new garden fence in straight. On the email that I sent across to Ethan, I explained that we charge £22.50 per person, equal to £45.00 per hour for 2 of us, or £360.00 per day. Averaging 5 panels per day, the work would take 2 days to complete, and that we would include the labor for the tree stump removal and tree removal free of charge. We knew that we were cutting it fine, but providing that we worked hard, we were confident that we hadn’t under priced the job. The email sent to Ethan looked like this:

“Hi Ethan and thank you for having us come to look at your fencing needs. Please see below the quotation.

Materials 

  • 8 fence lap panels
  • 8 concrete 1 foot gravel boards
  • 8 concrete posts
  • 20 x post mix / cement

Total £500.00

Labour

We charge £22.50 per hour, per person, equal to £360.00 per day for 2 of us. The work will take 2 days to complete totaling £720.00.

Total for materials and labor

£1220.00

Optional extras

As discussed with Kerry, there is a tree that needs to come down in order for the fence to run through straight. This will be done at no additional cost and is part of the fencing job. In terms of labor, I will happily provide the tree stump removal and waste removal free of charge, how ever there would be some additional costs involved with regards to ‘materials’.

  1. We would need to rent a stump grinder at £90.00 for the day
  2. Holding a tier 2 waste carriers license, we are charged when taking waste to the commercial dump. As a result, we have to pass these costs onto yourself. In this case, we estimate this to be £120.00.

Total price including optional extras

£1430.00.”

I would say that it took about 3 days to hear back from Ethan with regards to the quote. To be honest, I thought that he had chosen to go ahead with an alternative company as we tend to hear back the same day, if not the next if someone wants to go ahead. To my surprise, this is what the email read:

“Hi Craig and yes please to the below quote including all optional extras. The car garage is gone now so I’m ready when you are. Kerry mentioned that you could have removed the car garage too, are you able to remove the concrete base and if so how much?

I just thought that the builders would remove the base as part of the removal process but apparently not. I think that this should have been explained at the beginning so happy for you to give us a price for the additional work. Cheers. Ethan.”

And here we go again…..

“Hi Ethan and thank you for getting back to me so soon. Yes I would love to remove the concrete base! Please see below your quotation:

Materials

Although I am confident that we would get away with 1 x 8 yard skip at £280.00, please allow for 1 extra skip just in case. This brings the total materials to £280.00 – £560.00.

Labor

Depending on weather or not the base is reinforced, the work could take anywhere from 1 to 2 days to complete. Using the same day rate as the previous quote, this brings the total labor costs to £360.00 – £720.00.

Total price for materials and labor

£640.00 – £1280.00.

Total price for all work, including the installation of a new garden fence, stump removal, tree and waste removal as well as the concrete base:

£2070.00 – £2710 (depending on how many days the concrete base takes to break up and how many skips are needed)

OK, that’s enough with the emails…I promise! But to cut a long story short (I should have done that sooner) Ethan replied asking to go ahead, so that’s what we done!

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How did the work go? Did you finish on schedule?

We knew that we had up to 4 days to finish the job in budget, so had broken it down like this. We had to remove the concrete in 2 days, and install the new garden fence and remove the tree as well as the waste in the other 2 days. The best way to give you an insight to how the work went is to talk you through day by day (briefly, my fingers are beginning to hurt!) so here it goes!

Day 1

We decided that the best point of action would be to start on the concrete base before erecting the garden fence. As planned, we had all materials such as the fence panels, posts etc., as well as the 8 yard skip delivered first thing on that Monday Morning…just in case we changed our minds on the order of events!

After plugging in the extension lead, bringing round 2 wheel barrows and an electric breaker, we proceeded to start work. Allan asked to break the concrete whilst I wheeled the barrows to the skip, which I was happy about as I know what 8 hours of breaking concrete does to your body! By the end of the day, we had broken about half of the concrete, which wasn’t great, but wasn’t too bad as we would be on schedule…but only just.

Day 2

The evening before, myself and Allan decided to speak about the plans for the next day (day 2) to which we agreed that we didn’t want the stump grinding taking time out of our fencing days. So at 7AM on day 2, we were at the local plant hire company picking up the stump grinder!

Whilst I took over the breaking of the concrete foundation, Allan proceeded to cut the stump lower to the ground before removing it with the grinder. Once done, I briefly stopped what I was doing, tied a rope around the tree in the way of the fence line to pull it in a direction away from any danger, whilst Allan began cutting it with a chainsaw at the base. Voila, the tree was down in no more than a couple of minutes. We dragged it out of the way and carried on with the concrete. In fact at lunch time, we took the stump grinder back just to save getting up extra early the next day!

At the end of day 2, we were happy where we were. The tree was down, and cut into bundle bags ready for removal. The stumps were gone as well as the concrete foundation which we managed to fit into 1 skip, saving the customer a bit of money. Happy days!

Day 3

Day 3 didn’t actually start as planned due to our own faults! The first problem was when we got the the job and started preparing for the garden fence installation, and at about 9.30AM realizing that we had no building string left which we needed for our line! So off to our closest Screwfix, and £3.99 later, we had our new string. They didn’t have the usual one in stock that we would get, so had one on a reel. We got back to the job for 10AM, started to unreel the string line before realizing that the hole lot was tangled up! Then spent another 30 minutes trying to untangle it, with no luck! I couldn’t believe it!

Feeling annoyed with Screwfix (I know it wasn’t their fault) we went to Travis Perkins and spent £7.99 on some alternative building string, but the problem was that by the time we got back to the job it was 11.30AM already! We knew that we had to get at least 5 fence panels in on day 3 to have a chance at finishing the job on day 4 and keeping it in budget, as well as this we had booked in another job for another customer to start on the Friday which wasn’t looking good now!

At 12 o clock, our first post hole was dug and we were putting in the first concrete post. To our surprise, there was no concrete to remove, which was strange as there must have been a fence there at some point!

The soil was soft. There was no concrete to remove in any of the holes. And at the end of the day we had installed 6 panels in just 5 hours! We were back on track!

Day 4 – Our final day

To start, it was absolutely pouring down with rain but on the plus side, we had 1.5 fence panels left to install and to collect the waste from the tree at the back of the garden that the customer had left from a previous tree he had cut down. Although this waste still needed to be cut down and crushed into ton bags, allowing us to load it into the van.

I checked with Kerry that it would be OK to work in the rain as there was a good chance that the  lawn will turn into mud, but she said that it’s no problem at all and that it would come back which was great.

With the rain slowing us down, we didn’t finish until 6.45PM that day, but we did finish! I was drenched from head to toe and all I wanted to do at that point was get home into a nice warm bath. I’m sure I was feeling cold for a few days after that! In this line of work you have to take the good with the bad and be willing to work in all weather if your going to keep your customers happy.

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My thoughts on the hole job…

The customers were lovely which is always a bonus, the work was completed on schedule and was priced right. Ethan and Kerry paid for the maximum 4 days quoted, but saved £280.00 on the skip so they were happy too, and were also very impressed with the quality of work carried out.

We will be going back in a few weeks to lay some top soil and turf where the concrete base use to be and to be honest, I’m looking forward to going back. Although I do feel bad looking at the state of the grass that we left them with! Which is why it’s always good practice to check with the customer before working in the rain.

All in all, a nice job that I enjoyed doing and that went well.

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