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Old 20.02.2013, 14:14
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Getting a gardening firm for earthworks: advice

My husband and I have bought our dream house, and have a budget to landscape the garden into a paradise for geese (rather than the somewhat overbuilt, overgrown-with-uninteresting-vegetation wasteland it is at the moment). It's a big garden and we expect to pay around CHF 100k for the work we want done, which includes structural improvements to the terrace and the slope and removal of foundations for random buildings which don't have planning permission.

We're considering two local gardening firms who say they could do the work in the next five months. One is a young guy who came round in wellies and overalls, looked round the garden in detail, asked relevant questions, took away the rough measurements we've made and came back with a detailed cost proposal. It is quite high (CHF 136k) but includes a number of things we don't need done, carefully itemised, so we think we can get it down to near budget and have got back to him asking if that would be possible.

The other seems to be a slightly bigger firm, and we had a salesman round today. Shiny shoes, suit, didn't actually go into the garden. He seems reasonably knowledgeable and had some good ideas about what we could do, but wants CHF 2.5k for detailed measurements before he will actually give a quote. His firm could do the work a bit sooner (which would be good) but the measurements and proposal would take a month, by which time the other guy is likely to have filled his calendar.

Which would you go for? I don't necessarily mind paying CHF 2.5k for detailed planning work before hearing a quote and I understand that is fairly normal for Switzerland, but I'd rather work with a smaller firm employing fewer middlemen, and I'd rather not pay CHF 2.5k to hear a ridiculously high quote.
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