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Richard Garland, MD, Sandwood Design & Build

For us, the tough period is really going to begin this year. We’re in the social housing market so it takes a while for our projects to come to fruition.

We’ve spent most of the last couple of years tendering to replace the work we’ve been carrying out, but at much lower prices. The business has seen about a 30 per cent drop in tender prices since the peak period a few years ago. I’ve let a few people go.

Some have also taken a wage cut - initially 15 per cent, but over the last couple of years I’ve restoredtwo-thirds of that. We’ve made great inroads when it comes to efficiency through working with Loughborough University on Lean construction. We’ve cut waste right through the construction process to the way work gets carried
out on site.

Looking ahead, if we make a small profit this year we’ll be pleased. We have a full year’s work lined up but at much lower prices.

The guys having to price the jobs have had a particularly tough time, but there has to come a point where you draw a line under a project and walk away. If we’re not going to break even, we won’t bid.

Two-thirds of our work used to come straight through negotiations but now we’re tendering everything, so when you’re competing with five or six other firms every time, you just need to price more jobs. That’s vast amounts more paperwork.

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