A site visit is a valuable part in the garden room buying process. It offers you the opportunity to ask detailed questions about your project and will help you make your final decisions as to which supplier to work with.
Most garden room suppliers off er a free site visit. They will send a representative of the fi rm – in many cases, the boss – to discuss your options and take a detailed survey of the site.
With most garden room suppliers offering UK wide coverage it can be expensive to conduct site visits, so it is good form to narrow down your search to two or three suppliers and ask them to visit you.
Not all suppliers off er a physical site visit
You will find in your initial research that some suppliers don’t off er site visits. These are normally suppliers who off er more basic designs with few customisation options. Often these suppliers will ask you to survey your own site and report back to them. This will often take the form of emailing photos of the site, drawing diagrams of the access route from the road to the proposed site and identifying any possible obstacles such as tight access or overhanging trees or cables.
Some suppliers use video conferencing tools like Skype to conduct initial meetings with the client. We have even heard of people taking the computer out to the garden for the supplier to see the proposed site!
These self surveys do have their place. The suppliers argue that they pass the cost savings they make onto the customer when pricing their garden rooms. They also say that their designs and building systems are so adaptable that they can cope with anything an un-surveyed site might throw up.
What to expect from a site survey
You will have a pre-arranged appointment with a representative of the garden room company (who conducts the visit differs between suppliers). Some will send a director of the company, others will send their designer. Some firms have a dedicated sales person that they send.
Whoever conducts the visit, it will take much the same format. You would expect to have an initial chat about your expectations for the project, i.e. the size, shape and your intended use for the room.
You will then go outside and look at the proposed site. At this stage the supplier will be assessing the location and judging if where you are planning to site the building will mean it complies with Permitted Development. They will assess the positioning of trees and where their roots are in relation to the site and, most importantly, assess the ground conditions for the foundations.
Either at this stage or later in the visit they will take photos and detailed measurements of the site and walk the route from the road to the site to ascertain if there are any obstacles that will hinder the movement of the sections of the building.
They may well use a laser level to get an idea of how level the site is and they will want to assess how solid the ground is to choose the right foundation for the site. They may dig a small hole in the area of the proposed site to see how deep the solid ground is – they will make good the site before they leave.
Once you have viewed the site you’ll go back inside to discuss your options in more detail. Now is the time to explain what you expect from the building, including design elements you like and those you don’t want included.
It’s a good idea to let the supplier know what your budget for the project is. Some people are wary of doing this, feeling that the supplier will push them to spend more, but no reputable supplier will ask you to do this. Actually, it’s very useful for a supplier to have a clear budget to work with as it allows them to help you choose the best combination of space, design features and finishes.
The supplier will have examples of their previous work to show you in photographic or video formats. They will also have material samples for you to choose from. If the visit is conducted by a designer you may find they do some quick ‘napkin sketches’ for you of what they think they could create for you.
With some of the modular designs the suppliers offer configurators which allow them to design the building whilst they visit you. They may even bring a printer with them to print off the designs. With these systems they are often in a position to give you a price for the project there and then, and if you are in a position to do so, take your order.
Other suppliers will go away and work on a few design and specification options for you. They will then send you a pack containing plans, elevations, 3D visualisations, specifications and a detailed quote for the work.
As you can see, a lot goes on during a site visit and it’s a great way of getting a feel for the supplier you are going to be working closely with.