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The garden: quote accepted

In the end I got two different builders to quote for doing the landscaping work on my garden. They came in within 10% of each other which I thought was pretty remarkable, and gives me reasonable confidence that is indeed the “price for the job”.

The main difference between the quotes was that one proposed to use reclaimed railway sleepers, and the other said he could get me a good discount on new oak beams, since I would be needing around 300 of them. I’ve been doing some research, and I was getting more and more uncomfortable at the thought of reclaimed sleepers. They are not necessarily as “green” as they sound. Almost all the old British Rail sleepers were used up a few years ago during the foot and mouth crisis, to build pyres for animal carcases. So the reclaimed sleepers which are available now are, on the whole, imported from Eastern Europe, where they may have previously been treated with God-knows-what chemicals – creosote being the least of the concerns. As a result, I’m informed, they can stink to high heaven in the heat, which would not be pleasant directly outside my kitchen window. Furthermore, the chemicals have an unfortunate tendency to leach out into the surrounding soil, poisoning any plants in the vicinity, which wouldn’t help with my plans to grow climbers up the retaining walls, let alone be any good for my herb garden!

So I’ve chosen the marginally more expensive quote, with the new oak sleepers. I’m told that they should last a good 50+ years once installed, which should see me out. The builder came round again yesterday to double-check his measurements, and for us to make sure we both fully understand what it is he’s going to do, and I have accepted his quote. He hopes to be able to start at the beginning of September, for about 5 weeks.

Yikes! It’s suddenly seeming very real! I’m not looking forward to them actually doing the work – I’ve lived through building work before when we had the extension done, and it’s not pleasant. But I’m really looking forward to it being completed, especially since they seem confident of finishing it well before winter sets in. I’ll keep you posted – this one will run and run…..