A site visit is a key part of the garden room buying process and is a valuable tool for both the customer and supplier.
Not all suppliers offer them
Many garden room suppliers have done away with the site visit process, the companies that have often only offer a standard design which they feel can overcome any site obstacles, they also feel that site visits are expensive, so if they remove them from the equation they can offer a more competitively priced garden room, this is all true of course, but it would be wise to read the small print to see who is liable for any problems/time delays caused by access or an uneven site once on-site.
A site visit is complimentary
Five or six years ago it was not uncommon to pay for a site visit, the cost would then be offset against the cost of your garden room if you proceeded to purchase, but those days have gone, and the market has become a lot more competitive so, it would be unusual to be charged for a site visit today.
On the whole garden room suppliers cover the whole of the UK and with petrol prices as they are its good practice to only request a site visit if you are seriously considering buying a garden room!
Preliminaries can be done by email
Some preliminary work can be done by email, in fact some suppliers use email correspondence as their form of site visit, basic questions about the site can be discussed, with the customer sending through photos and basic site measurements, this is obviously not a fool proof method, and it’s impossible for the supplier to test the ground conditions with this type of survey.
Who does a site visit?
This will vary from supplier to supplier, some firms have a dedicated sales person who is experienced in selling, whilst with the majority of firms ‘the boss’ will visit, this has many benefits because they have an intimate knowledge of their product, they are often the designer and have hands-on knowledge of how their garden rooms are built.
What to expect from the visit
Site visits can vary in time from less than an hour to several hours and the time it takes will depend on the complexity of the design, and the number of design choices you have to make.
Your chosen supplier will arrive on site with examples of their work, samples of various material finishes, measuring equipment, camera and often a spade to test the soil conditions.
The site visit will often begin outside looking at the proposed site; it’s important to discuss the access route to the site and assess if the panels are going to be transported easily. There are very few occasions when access is too difficult for a supplier – it’s not uncommon for all of the materials for a garden room to be transported through a house or lifted over a wall where there’s no gate, but it’s important that the supplier knows about any potential obstacles at this stage so they can prepare for them.
You’ll already have an idea of where you plan to place your garden room, and the supplier will talk through the practicalities of this location with you, taking into consideration Permitted Development rules, the location of trees, etc.
At this stage, you would expect the supplier to take photos, make detailed notes and use measuring equipment to assess the size of the site and how level it is. It is not unusual for the supplier to dig down into the ground in a small area to assess how far down the solid ground is for the foundation system, they will put the earth back so as to leave the site tidy.
Once the site has been assessed the supplier will have a good idea of what the site can take, and the size and style of building you are after, you would then sit down and talk about the finer details – the fun part choosing finishes etc., and as we say they will normally bring material samples for you to choose from.
The amount of design decisions you have will depend on the design, a basic standard range will have few options to choose from, whereas a bespoke design you will have choices to make on every aspect of the design from the shape of the building, the type of doors and windows through to the finish of the electrical sockets.
Some suppliers will be in a position to quote for the garden room there and then, and complete the order form, secure the deposit and book a delivery date before they leave, whilst others will leave you and compile a document for you including drawings, often 3D illustrations of your proposed building, a detailed specification, a quotation and schedule of works, they will send this to you for your perusal.
As we said earlier its good practice not to request a site visit if you’re not serious about buying a garden room, but in requesting a site visit you’re not obligating yourself to buy from that supplier, if you don’t gel with the supplier or the design is not right there are no hard feelings or hard sell!
A site visit really is important
We have alluded to them in this article, but problems can occur in projects where a site visit is not conducted, often just small misunderstandings, but a hassle you could do without! Problems we have heard about include delivery drivers offloading all the materials in the front garden because they didn’t know the building had to go through the house, or the side gate is too narrow. Extra expense for the client because the ground is softer than the supplier was expecting so required more foundation work, or the site needing extensive clearing/levelling because the supplier didn’t realise there was a huge drop!
As you can see a site visit is an integral part of the garden room buying process, we hope this article gives you some insight on what to expect from one.