Finding a competent contractor

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Some contractors will have particular specialities, but many will be able to carry out most types of lowland path construction work, if suitably managed. Contractor names can be obtained from local authority access officers, access and countryside trusts, Yellow Pages or by speaking to other organisations that have had paths built recently. A phone call to prospective Contractors will help gauge whether they are able to carry out the proposed path construction and related feature works and if project timescales are realistic for them.

Some of the different types of contractor are set out below along with a few things to consider when deciding which to select. The technical requirements and extent and complexity of path construction project will influence choice.

Path contractors

There are very few contractors specialising in lowland path construction as their main business. However, some upland path contractors have branched out into the wider field of lowland path construction.

Benefits - They will be familiar with path specifications, and should require minimal supervision for a high quality output. They know what needs to be done to build a path that blends well with the landscape. Some may also have experience of installing small span bridges.

Points to consider - Upland path contractors may be less experienced with the more tightly specified path construction work required for urban environments. Some contractors only have experience of building unbound surfaces and may have no knowledge and experience of laying semi-bound or bound surfaces.

Forestry / agricultural contractors

These contractors are common in rural areas. Their main clients are estates as well as the various forestry organisations for whom they build access tracks and roads. They tend to be small businesses. Quite a few of these contractors have ventured into path construction, mainly in rural lowland areas.

Benefits - These contractors are well accustomed to path or track building in forest or woodland sites. They are familiar with working on routes with difficult access.

Points to consider - They are less experienced with urban paths where a higher quality of finish is required. They may require close supervision to follow specifications and do work of good quality.

Small civil engineering / plant hire contractors

Their main clients are often bigger contractors who use them as sub-contractors. They will do small or medium path construction work between their main sub-contracting activities. They can undertake most types of lowland path construction: unbound, semi-bound and bound surfaces.

Benefits - There are plenty of small civil / plant hire contractors available. They can usually do small scale asphalt surfacing works.

Points to consider - Large contractors are their main clients and may have demands on their time which may affect programming in your path construction project. Tidiness and quality of finishing off can be variable as they generally deliver to tight cost margins and may be used to working on specific aspects of jobs rather than whole projects. They are accustomed to sites with good access and may charge extra if access is poor (seen as a risk).

Large civil engineering / plant hire contractors

These are large national companies with household names, although there are many other smaller companies who fall into this category. They tend to be public companies rather than family concerns. They will have certain specialities but will generally be able to do all types of lowland path construction work. They may sub-contract out elements of work to smaller civil engineering contractors such as small scale asphalt surfacing work.

Benefits - These contractors are common and readily available.  They are able to do everything from path construction works to bridge installation. They are highly professional and will work to approved quality standards. A suitable choice for large scale path construction projects.

Points to consider - These contractors are accustomed to working in professional environments with civil engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers. They usually work to tight specification and are closely monitored. Managing such a contractor may be beyond the capability of small scale path construction projects. Often, these contractors have larger overheads and are not interested in small scale works.

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