I have been landscaping in the greater London area for about 23 years. I build gardens for several designers, all of which have been for private homes. As you know, renovating a garden is a luxury as opposed to a necessity. In the current economic climate, many people are holding back on committing to garden rebuilds. Therefore there is more competition for fewer projects.
I am fortunate that the designers I build for are very good and provide a steady flow of quality work. In most cases they recommend me to their clients, and most of the time I am not in a bidding situation.
Immigration is totally open between member countries of the European Union. The industry here (London) is under pressure from immigrant Polish trades people who are willing to work for much less. In most cases they are general contractors who try their hands at landscaping, usually doing, at best, a mediocre job.
Sound somewhat familiar, U.S. contractors? Read The Battle Rages On for tips on how to overcome a price war.
There are also an increasing number of English builders who are branching out and securing the landscaping contract on a project where they are renovating a house. In most cases, the results from these guys are a disaster. The clients, to their dismay, eventually discover that if you pay peanuts you usually get monkeys.
(Sound familiar, U.S. contractors?)
I have been called in several times to deconstruct and rebuild gardens done by general contractors. Some of the work is shocking. In one garden the contractor had used interior multi-finish plaster to render block work walls. It fell off about 12 months later. In another garden, the limestone slabs for a fairly large patio were laid upside down.
What kind of horror stories can you share with respect to shoddy work you had to come in and fix up?