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“Are there drains underneath the area that will be paved?” asks landscape contractor Shaun Alexander from Flintstone Landscapes and Construction in Berkshire. “Find out, because replacement could be expensive.”
“Excavation and waste disposal is costly,” says Shaun. “Work with your landscape contractor to try to keep excavation work to a minimum and, where possible, dispose of waste yourself.”
A good landscaper will encourage you to go and look at some previous driveway jobs they have done. If they have lasted for a couple of years already, it’s likely they will stand the test of time.
“Make sure you have a clear plan of exactly what your contractor is going to pave,” recommends Shaun. “A full blown design might not be necessary, but make sure you know how many metres of paving will be undertaken. Ask the contractor to mark out the area to be paved on the ground before work commences in order to be sure you know what you’re paying for.”
“Ask your contractor about using recycled materials,” says Shaun. “Good landscapers will be happy to oblige.”
Agree a plan and don’t make changes once work has begun. Changes can add time and cost to the project.
“Costs can spiral if you don’t have a contract with your builder. RICS offers a simple, plain English contract which is legally binding – you should insist on this,” says Shaun.
“Talk to an architect about low cost materials that might be suitable for your property. Alternatively, ask about how the design could be tweaked to reduce cost. A little planning goes a long way with extensions.
Sometimes, extra works that weren’t in the original contract crop up along the way and can’t be avoided. Agree the price for these in writing as and when they occur, rather leaving this until the end of the project."