Building Guides

Skip Hire

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Secret Number 1: “How can I tell which skip companies in the Yellow Pages are the good ones?”

Unless you personally know the company, you can’t. Any fool with a wagon and a skip can get an advert designed and printed to entice you to call them, but mainly it’s a lottery not just in terms of prices and service, but also in terms of what actually happens to your waste – something that depressingly few of us actually think, or even care about.

Skip companies are not actually regulated at the time of writing. The good ones operate their own licensed waste transfer stations (regulated by the Environment Agency) and are members of the Institute of Wastes Management (a professional body that promotes education and raising standards in waste management).

The bad ones are just cowboys that often fly-tip your waste and therefore add to your council tax bill – ‘cos the councils are the ones who have to clean it up!

Did you know? “Every 35 seconds, somebody, somewhere is fly-tipping in the UK”

You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to be depressed about this fact.

This figure is so high because so many people opt for the cheapest skip hire or “man with van” they can find. Because these cowboys cannot afford to dispose of the waste properly, it ends up costing all of us more money.

Secret Number 2: “Why do skips cost so much money?”

Think about the overheads involved:

Skip Wagon: £35,000+
Skips: £500/each for standard builderSkip
Vehicle Insurance: £2000/year per vehicle
Public Liability: £1250/year per vehicle
Employer’s Liability: £1250/year per vehicle
Skip Wagon driver: £25,000/year
Fuel: £20,000/year
Office staff: £18,000/year per member of staff
Landfill taxes: £18/ton increasing by £3 every year until 2010 where it will stand at £35/ton
Recycling costs: Cost of buying shredders, trommels, weighbridges, picking stations etc – £millions

Soon adds up doesn’t it?

Add into this the cost of cowboys stealing proper companies skips (it does happen), plus the costs of being a licensed carrier and having a licensed waste transfer station – £££s!!

Getting rid of waste is not a cheap business (unless you do it illegally), but it has to go somewhere!

Secret Number 3: “Why isn’t my skip dropped off and picked up when I ask for it?”

This isn’t always the skip company’s fault – too many people don’t understand that hiring a skip is not like calling a taxi.

Just think about what goes into the average skip lorry driver’s day – it’s heavy haulage we’re talking about here, and lots of things can go wrong on a pick-up or drop off that will slow down the whole day’s schedule, such as a customer putting toxic waste in a skip, overfilling it, or the driver being given incorrect drop off details by a customer. We actually publish a national trade magazine for the industry called “The Skip” – You might have seen it in 2005 on BBC1’s “Have I Got News For You” – and through this magazine we are pushing for more skip companies to incorporate new technology like Vehicle Tracking to improve delivery schedules and take-up of this kind of improvement is increasing all the time.

We are using this magazine as a platform for creating the “National Skip Hire Association” – a trade body that will eventually be seen as a “kite-mark of quality” so you know you are going to be using the very best.

In the meantime, you should be patient waiting for your skip because it’s rarely a case of deliberately bad customer service. If you expect a skip to arrive at 9am on the dot, you will almost always be disappointed.

Any skip company giving you an exact time of delivery and pick-up is likely to be just saying that to secure your business. We think it’s fair and reasonable to aim for an AM or a PM delivery.

Secret Number 4: “Why won’t they take the skip away if the rubbish is just over the fill line?”

It’s not the skip driver being unreasonable – it’s the law!

They are legally bound to not carry unsafe loads and unfortunately many people order smaller skips than they need in order to save a few quid.

Our advice – order a larger skip than you think you need because you will always fill it – just don’t go over the line!

(This is not a sales gimmick, it really is true that saving a couple of pounds is a false economy with skips).

Secret Number 5: “What actually happens to my rubbish when they take it away?”

If you’re not asking this question, you should be.

Landfill space in the UK is running out fast. It is estimated that by 2010 there will be virtually no landfill space left in Britain and the government is increasing the landfill taxes that waste management companies have to pay every year.

The best skip hire companies are investing heavily into new plant and technology to the point that many of them are recycling over 90%! Using these companies will eventually reduce prices and massively increase recycling rates – something we should all be interested in.

The bottom line is – the cheaper the skip, the less likely it is that the waste is being responsibly managed.

Secret Number 6: “Why won’t my local skip company take a credit card or even tell me prices over the phone?”

This is mainly a historical thing. Most skip hire companies have evolved over the past 25 years from construction and demolition companies, and the traditional way they do business is either by issuing invoices or cash-in-hand!

Also, a lot of companies still charge for waste disposal by the tonne and won’t always quote an exact price because they don’t know exactly how much it’s going to cost them to get rid of until it comes in.

We at are committed to telling you exactly how much your skip is going to cost and giving you the best service possible.

We ONLY take credit card payments for our skips. The good thing about this is you don’t have to be in when the skip is dropped off or picked up PLUS it’s easy for us to give you a refund if you are justifiably unhappy with our service (which is very rare).

Secret Number 7: “Why do I get quoted so many different prices for the same service from different skip hire companies?”

The answer’s in the question – you don’t get the same service from different companies!

You get different levels of service from different companies. Most of the time, you get what you pay for. After you’ve had a bad experience, you’ll wonder whether it really was worth saving £20 by going with the cheapest you could find.

Plus there are other factors such as skip permit prices.

All skip companies are supposed to tell you that you need a permit if the skip is to be on a public highway. These permits are provided by the local council – sometimes the company by law has to sort it out for you, sometimes you’ll have to go direct to the council yourself.

The variances in skip permit price across the UK are staggering – some councils charge nothing and issue them the same day, some charge over £70 and make you wait weeks before issuing.

It’s one of the reasons why TopSkips is working hard to establish The National Skip Hire Association – to fight local government and get some sort of standardisation of permit prices. In our view, permit prices are a tax on poorer people – if you haven’t got a drive or any private land, you will probably have to pay for a permit to put the skip on a public highway! This leads to more cowboys and more fly-tipping.

In the end…

It’s up to you. You now know pretty much everything necessary to make an informed choice about which skip hire company to use.

If you want all the guesswork taken out of the job and a guarantee of:
Excellent customer service levels
Fully online safe & secure payment system
A free-phone number so it won’t cost you to enquire about anything
Responsible waste management and a commitment to recycle at least 70% of waste collected
Fixed, published prices
Full UK-wide service

.then you could always use We operate a network of over 400 of the very best skip hire companies throughout the UK that go the extra mile to please our customers because, most of the time, TopSkips are THEIR biggest customer!