Value for Money when choosing a Gardener
Most of the problems via the Help Desk have been from individuals who feel that their voice is ignored as in the case of this latest enquiry. RAs need to be run emocratically so that members do not become unhappy with their neighbours. Today I received the following enquiry via the Help Desk and I thought I would share it with you to get your comments too....
Hi, I just recently discovered that the Gardener of our RA is payed way to much for what he does. I have asked to revise his work and have submitted a quote from another gardener which is a 1/3 under the charges of the current gardener. Is there a requirement of the RA to revise costs? Is it up to the RA to make decisions about who is employed? I feel like the current gardener is a friend of the commitee as all my suggestions have been dismissed and I do not feel this issue is treated with fair and good practice. Advice would be very appreciated.
Private gardeners can cost anything from £10 ph or more and of course, cheaper may not always be best. Often they use their own tools but some may even ask to use yours. They may or may not be insured for accidental damage, public liability etc. so if something goes wrong or there is an accident on your property, you could be held liable.
When it comes to RAs hiring a gardener to maintain and care for communal areas, things can get complicated so great care must be taken.
Two or more members of your committee should first of all make a list of what actually needs to be done. This will enable them to request quotes from reputable gardeners with timelines for each job to be done at specific times during the year. You will also be able to ascertain whether or not you will need to purchase plants (bulbs, seeds etc. even turf or weedkiller). This will also enable you to set aside money and budget accordingly.
The role of the RA is to get the best services for their members at the best rates. It's then the Committee's role to provide members with the information so they can vote so that everyone knows how much they will need to contribute each year.
RAs should always look at the costs of any type of communal work to be carried out. There is nothing wrong in employing a friend of a committee member, but the same rules still apply - best value for money with work to an acceptable standard on which everyone can agree.
It doesn't matter when you like in a block of flats with communal grounds or whether the whole road employs a gardener to help residents maintain their front and/or back gardens, sharing the cost will be better for everyone. There will also be the safety aspect of knowing the individual who is doing the gardening and protect vulnerable people in your vicinity such as the elderly and disabled, as well as those on low incomes.
I would, therefore, suggest that this question and answer is shared with members of your committee, together with any comments below (if any) that arise so that a collective decision can be reached.
Your comments will be a greatly appreciated - thank you.