Erecting marquees on hard standing

Our DIY Marquees like most commercial quality ones can be erected on hard standing. There is the small issue of how to anchor the marquee down (answer: longer tie downs to a nearby soft surface, bolting or use heavy weights) but otherwise it is easily done.

There is one small issue which you should make your customer aware of and that is what happens when it rains (and I’m not talking about our funny on the FAQ page). If a patio normally floods in heavy rain, a marquee won’t stop that occurring. If the hard standing has a slope then water may try to flow through the marquee.

The risks of this happening are usually very slight and whilst it’s worth mentioning to customers it’s not worth going overboard or scaremongering about it. If the forecast is bad there are some solutions:

  • Wooden floor throughout – this raises the floor up so the water passes under. The best solution but also by far the most expensive and most work.
  • sandbags or similar round the perimeter of the marquee.
  • strips of carpet underneath the groundbars – this was suggested to me recently by a marquee hire company and I think it’s an excellent and resourceful idea. Strips of old carpet rolled up and then squashed underneath the groundbars cuts out all but torrential rain from making its way in to the marquee.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Yet more marquees for sale going cheaply on ebay

We have some clearance marquees going cheaply on ebay.

These are from a batch of marquees last year but are brand new, still in their packaging (though some of the boxes may be a bit scruffy due to being in the warehouse for several months).

Bidding starts at 99p with no reserve. We normally sell these for £600-£700. They are slightly taller than our standard ones (30degree roof rather than 20degree) and have 500gsm PVC roof and sides. It’s a lot of kit for the money at normal selling price so these should be a bargain for someone.

6x6m Clearance marquee for sale on ebay

6x8m Clearance marquee for sale on ebay

Happy bidding

Spencer

New range of Pagoda peaked roof marquees for sale

6x12m pagoda peaked roof marquee Considering we first exhibited them at The Showmans Show 2013 and a lot of work had gone in prior to that we are very excited at finally being able to offer our new pagoda style peaked roof marquees.

They are based on our extremely successful Commercial range of marquees but incorporate a double (or single for 4x4m and 6x8m) peak. There are no centre poles and the interchangeable panels and other features of our Commercial range remain.

Pagoda marquees have always been popular as entrance areas in to larger marquees but they are now increasingly popular as marquees in their own right due to their use in The Bake-Off and other high profile marquees.

For those with existing DIY Marquees you can purchase just the roof and adapter pieces to convert your existing Commercial marquee in to a peaked roof one. They will eventually be in our spares section but that won’t be completed for a while yet, Alex our IT man has a lot of work on his plate at the moment and is already looking a bit stressed!

The peaked roof marquees are available for sale in 4x4m (single peak), 4x8m (double peak), 6x8m (single peak) and 6x12m (double peak).

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Check list for completed marquees

It’s good practice when you’ve finished a marquee (and before the event) to have a check list, one copy for the customer and one for you.

What goes on a check list is entirely up to you but here’s some suggestions:

  • Sign to say that they are happy with the marquee. It won’t cover you completely, they may find something and call you back but it does help to have a paper trail should anyone try to take action against you after the event (I’ve never heard of this happening but it’s simply good practice).
  • Sign to say that all furniture is there (by sign I mean one signature for everything)
  • Sign to agree to take responsibility for all of the equipment (unless you have separate insurance/damage waiver).
  • Sign to say they have been shown how to use any marquee heating and/or lighting.
  • A note to say where any equipment can be plugged in (and not to plug in anywhere else)
  • A note asking for any decorations around the marquee not to be attached using staples or non-removable tape.
  • A note mentioning no metalwork should be removed and side panels only removed if good weather.
  • A note asking for pets (dogs) not to be allowed in to the marquee. There were a couple of occasions I can remember finding presents from the family dog, they were not pleasant experiences!

It’s also good practice to have the emergency contact number on the bottom.

Note this is a check list for the customer (they have a copy, you have a copy) which may be separate from your own erectors check-list, something the team leader might fill in ensuring everything meets the required standards. Flooring is well fixed down, all straps are done on the outside of the marquee, no lighting or heating could come in to contact with PVC/lining, furniture all laid out, dance floor laid flat etc etc.

For those who are starting out this may all understandably be a bit of overkill. If you’re in charge and just putting a 6x6m shell of a marquee then that’s fine. The above should always be the aspiration though, as you get bigger, as your equipment becomes more diverse, the jobs become bigger and when more of the responsibility is delegated to others having check lists is simply good practice.

Some see setting up a marquee hire business as very easy. Others see setting up any business as a potential headache. At DIY Marquees we work very hard helping people set up marquee hire companies by taking a lot of the stress and worry out but promoting good practices so they can thrive in the long term.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

What’s needed in the toolbox of a marquee hirer

At an enjoyable meeting over the weekend I was asked what should be in the toolbox/van of a marquee hirer. What’s the typical equipment you should set yourself up with?

Obviously we can supply most of these but they are reasonably standard equipment available in many places:

  • Snips/wire cutters. Essential for cutting down cable ties used to attach linings and lighting.
  • Spare cable ties – used for linings and lighting and 101 other uses
  • Gaffa Tape – ideally in white. Just avoid the temptation to temporarily patch PVC using gaffa tape – when it comes to permanently patching the adhesive the tape leaves prevents the glue/weld from giving a good bond.
  • A repair kit is always useful just in case.
  • Carpet cutting knife (stanley) or similar, hammer, toolbelt & nails
  • Detachable eyelets are useful
  • Sledgehammer & goggles
  • Stake puller of some kind make life a lot easier than trying to loosen stakes with a sledgehammer
  • Steps – commercial grade, shorter than 2m to work under the eaves but giving a safe working height of 3m
  • Some offcuts of wood – useful for chocking tables in transport, supporting the odd footplate that’s in a slight dip
  • Hacksaw – just in case (incredibly rarely required)
  • Gas spanner – if you use gas heaters
  • Funnel – if you use diesel heaters
  • Pair of spanners (if using bolted together marquee like our deluxe range)
  • Vacuum cleaner or leaf blower – whatever you use to clean the floor
  • Washing up liquid, cloth & bowl – for giving the marquee and any equipment a once over
  • Baby-wipes – some people use these to ensure clean hands before fitting any marquee linings
  • Hard hats – it’s debatable as our marquees are mostly assembled on the ground whether they are classed as lifting over head height and therefore require hard hats. From experience I can say that you come across as a much more professional outfit if you wear hard hats until the structure is complete so I view it as good practice.

You wouldn’t need all of these initially, some you may never require but having most of these in your van/toolbox will make day to day life running a marquee hire business a lot easier. It will also save dashes to local DIY stores to get whatever tool you’re missing!

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Christmas 2014 opening hours

Our opening hours over xmas:

Monday 22nd Dec: Open as usual 9-5
Tuesday 23rd Dec: 9-4
Wednesday 24th Dec – Sunday 4th January: closed
Monday 5th January: Skeleton staff 9-5 (a downside of having a family business is funerals affect a greater number of your workforce)
Tuesday 6th January onwards: Open as usual 9-5

Thank you to all of our customers old and new, all of us here at DIY Marquees wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Spencer

Advice on starting a marquee hire (or any) business

I meet a lot of people looking to start up a marquee hire business, it is one of the best parts of my job. A lot of people who come in to see me have never worked for themselves and see it as quite an aspirational position. Often the decision has been made to work for themselves long before the idea of marquees came around. And to be honest working for yourself is great, you do have to go in to it with your eyes wide open though and this is something else I often find myself discussing with potential marquee customers.

The first, most important point when starting a new business is having your close family on-board. Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of time, energy and work which would only be rewarded in the medium-long term. It is very difficult to do without the support of those around you. The last thing you want is for your start-up business to seriously affect your relationship (especially if you’ve married in to a family of solicitors and QC’s!).

The pro’s and cons of starting up your own marquee (or other) business:

Pros:

  • Greater flexibility
  • Greater job-satisfaction. Not just because the work you’re doing is for yourself rather than some else or an organisation but because most marquee work is making people happy
  • Potentially greater financial reward (it depends on what job you’re giving up of course)
  • Greater involvement in all parts of the business. You may have had a job in marketing but in a start-up you’ll be involved/responsible for every different part of the business.

Cons:

  • Greater responsibility
  • Less financial security (the rewards are potentially greater but there is always the risk of the business not taking off).

And in-between both is a certain blurring of your work/life hours. You can often do non-work things during work time but then you’ll often have to do work related our of hours.

Working for yourself or working in a small business can be a culture shock but ultimately a move most people view well worth it.

A good friend of mine went from working in a huge multinational to a small start-up business. On the second day he was shocked to be told to drop everything as a photocopier had arrived downstairs (they were on the 5th floor) and everyone had to go down and lift it up the stairs. But this is what happens in a small business, everyone has to be prepared to be involved in any part of the business (manual handling or otherwise).

We are always happy to discuss any ideas you may have in starting up your own marquee hire business (or even helping an existing one), we have a lot of experience both in having done it ourselves and in helping many many others over the years.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Used marquee for sale

We’ve put one of our demo marquees on ebay: ex-demo diy marquee for sale

It could do with a clean but otherwise there is a lot of marquee there for what I would expect to be very very little money – it is starting at 99p with no reserve.

Happy bidding

Spencer

Case study: Mr Jones wants to cover as much of his garden with marquees as possible

We recently had a visit by a Mr Jones, he was planning a party and wanted to extend his house in to the garden using marquees. This is a pretty common scenario for marquee hire companies especially during the winter months.

Mr Jones came in with a diagram of his garden with the marquees he thought he need, two 4x6m marquees, one 3.6×3.6m pagoda and one walkway:

Jones01

The garden is not easy as it’s a very funny shape and on the surface this looks to do the job. My concerns were:

  • Weathering to the house would be difficult. The 4x6m marquee against the house should at least be a 6x4m one for ease of weathering. A pagoda is sloped on all 4 sides and so difficult to weather against a house.
  • There would be many joins. This is not a problem regarding weatherproofing with our guttering kits but it can be a hindrance to party atmosphere and circulation. The risk is the end 4x6m marquee would feel cut-off and under-used (note if this layout went ahead a good suggestion would be to put the food and/or drink in this 4x6m to ensure it is used).
  • Walkways are ideal for connecting marquees together but in this scenario you aren’t really gaining any useable space by having the walkway in the middle there. It’s a bit like a sideways corridor.

So having explained all of this I suggested an alternative approach, a 4x12m marquee and a 4x4m marquee on the side:

Jones02

  • This is much easier to weather against the house (both marquees would have their flat gables towards the house)
  • There is only one join and it is much easier to weather the two marquees side by side
  • You have a larger main area for the guests to circulate.

Note that in this example Mr Jones is actually ending up with slightly less of his garden covered and my alternative option is cheaper than his original suggestion. I can however guarantee that this second idea will be an improvement on the atmosphere and circulation of the party.

As mentioned in other articles I would still recommend having the food and drink out in the marquee (maybe at the far end). People (especially blokes) linger by the bar, having the food and drink outside guarantees the marquees are used fully and everyone doesn’t end up in the kitchen.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How to look after marquee linings

Marquee linings give a real wow factor to any marquee but they do need looking after. This means keeping them clean and as crease-free as possible.

Please note this advice is for the luxury marquee linings that we (and one or two others) manufacture here in the UK. It is not suitable for the cheap satin linings made in the far east.

How do I know if my linings are luxury or satin? Satin material is white/silver, very shiny and prone to wrinkling. Luxury lining material is usually (but not exclusively) ivory/cream with a matt finish.

Tips on looking after marquee linings:

  • Keep them dry. Just like marquee covers if you put linings away wet they will reappear mouldy.
  • The ideal way to store linings is neatly folded – that’s how we (and by we I mean the ladies here who are far better at this than the rest of us) store our linings here. However on site folding isn’t practical so the next best is to concertina the material and then roll it up. The last thing you want to be doing is scrunching up a lining to fit in to a bag or something. Luxury lining material is not as prone to creases as satin but if left for a long time scrunched up they will form.
  • Make sure your hands are clean before starting to play with any lining.
  • Keep the linings clean – if they’re dirty after a job put them to one side for cleaning.
  • Our linings can be washed in a normal domestic washing machine, they are inherently flame retardant so can be washed any number of times.
  • Stubborn mildew may need bleaching first (and then washed thoroughly)
  • Putting the linings up when they’re damp (ie straight out of the washing machine) means they dry in place and you don’t have any creases at all.
  • If you do have lots of creases in your lining then a steamer will get them out ( can take a while though!)
  • Have set bags for your linings, ideally ones that are colour coded – there is nothing worse than being at a job and finding you’ve packed the wrong size roof lining!
  • Most of the time dirt on linings comes from dirty hands when fitting, a dirty floor or in transport if not properly protected. Being thorough at these times will give your marquee a better standard of finish and avoid you being tied up regularly cleaning linings .

We have been manufacturing marquee linings for over 20 years, if you need any advice on linings (whether for our marquees or not) we are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks for reading

Spencer