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Setting out a large landscaping project

How did a small landscaping contractor from Southampton secure a huge contract (their largest contract to date) out of area and manage it you ask? Let’s start at the beginning…

Bath Rugby Club wanted some landscaping works completed at their training ground, Farleigh House. They approached Marshalls, as the leading product manufacturer in the UK who put forward three of their best award winning domestic contractors who were a part of their register.

The brief was to create a large car parking area, lay paths and create a paved awards atrium with steps (lots of them) for the rugby clubs training facilities situated at Farleigh House.

The products they chose to complete the project was Marshalls Antique Silver Sawn Sandstone plus step kits, Scoutmoor Setts for the paved areas and Tegula Drivesett Traditional kerbs.

It was imperative that the project met the highest standards of workmanship with a fantastic finish as the training facilities are accessed by the media to film live coverage and reports so it was the first impression given to fans and followers of Bath Rugby Club (no pressure!!)

The client’s main concern was attention to detail so although the contract was technically a commercial project they requested a high quality domestic installer and hence the project was secured.

The project was the largest we, as a company, had taken on to date and was a baptism of fire so to speak. The timeframe was anticipated to be 3-4 months but it actually took 7 months due to a particularly cold and snowy whereby the team stayed on site (camping in the grounds!) during the warmer months.

The weather we had and the extreme low temperatures prevented work from progressing as we had hoped. With the backing of Marshalls we suspended laying in these conditions where frost could cause problems with the materials and the laying course (particularly where frozen materials can swell in the presence of frost and so their use can give incorrect levels and problems with compaction).

To give an overview of the project and size - there were over 600 steps engineered and cast in concrete in four separate pours, 2,400+ cuts made on the steps alone and 2,000 square metres of paving laid.

How did we approach the project?

As it was the largest project we have ever installed and managed, we thought it wise to partner with an engineering firm. We chose a local firm that we had a good relationship with and had worked with on previous projects.

Having our own team of engineers proved to be a key decision and we worked alongside Bath Rugby Clubs resident architect and engineering team and had numerous team consultations. These were to ensure the project was progressing as planned, to ensure all teams were working cohesively on the project and to ensure best practice when setting out levels.

Their own team of groundworkers completed the excavation works and we then laid the products, cut, jointed and finished the project.

How were the levels set out?

Setting out the levels was achieved using total stations, laser levels and good old string lines. The engineers set out the levels three days ahead of us, the laying team, for kerb heights which were then laid and then the roadways were excavated down from the finished heights on the kerbs.

How was accuracy maintained?

Accuracy on the project was maintained via regular checks by the engineering team to ensure all works were within a 3mm tolerance. We worked to the clients’ drawings throughout and for more precise cuts on the paving used a wet cut bench saw (which gives a better finish).

The client chose to use all Marshalls products and so had their help and advice with any technical queries or product issues that arose.

Overall, the project was a learning curve for us as a small company but gave us the experience of working on a £250k+ contract, working with a high profile client and working on a prestigious project (and it’s great for the portfolio). Our ‘takeaways’ from the experience are; to have a good engineer beside you to enable a complete overview of a project of this scale and to see any problems before they arise. Secondly, know your numbers, if we had not worked day and night number crunching before submitting our quotation we could have put the company at risk. Finally, be prepared for delays out of your control (due to the great British weather) and be prepared to suspend works if necessary.

Thankfully we did pull the project off …

“Mike worked seamlessly with our architect to bring the design to life. He was able to fine tune the architectural design to ensure it worked well with the product, as the finish had to be both aesthetically pleasing and practical. After all, the players are incredibly important to us, and from a practical and safety perspective, it had to be spot on.” Lee Callow, Facilities Manager, Farleigh House

For more information on Aura landscapes, visit their website: www.auralandscapes.co.uk 

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