How to Choose a Tradesperson for Your Home Improvements
Dealing with Professionals
It may be that you are completing one or more of the jobs in this website as part of a much larger renovation or conversion project, and although you feel capable of laying a new floor covering you maybe do not have the time or confidence to construct a whole new staircase from scratch.
Or it could be that you would simply like architectural drawings prepared. Whatever you need, the secret is to find reliable professional help at the right price.
Choosing a tradesperson
- Always try and get a personal recommendation by asking around friends. If you walk or drive past a house where some work has just been completed, do not be afraid to approach the owners to find out whether they were pleased with the work and would recommend the builders again.
- If you cannot get a recommendation another option is to look through your local yellow pages. You will find there are literally hundreds of builders who all want your business. Look for those who are members of a recognized trade association such as the Federation of Master Builders. To belong to this organization the builder must supply references along with proof of adequate insurance coven.
- Bear in mind that a good builder will be booked up for weeks, if not months, in advance and they should be approached well in advance of when you would like work to begin.
- Having produced a list of prospective contractors who are willing and able to do the job, now is the time to ‘shop around’ asking for estimates from each builder. Write down your specification and give this to each one to ensure that they are quoting on a like-for-like basis.
- When the contractors offer their estimates do not necessarily opt for the cheapest but rather go for the best all-round deal. You may find that the least expensive has omitted certain costs, which will inevitably surface at the stage. The best estimate is likely to be the most detailed, where the costs have been broken down and each one can be justified.
- Look at other work that your prospective contractors have undertaken. Do not be scared to do this, if they are a reputable firm they will be pleased to show you.
- Architects — These skilled professionals can be worth employing if you are undertaking large or complex alterations. They can prepare all the technical drawings for you deal with the local authority, apply for any necessary permission and if the job is extensive, can supervise the contractors or sub-contractors. Architects practising in the UK must be members of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) from whom you can obtain the names of architects in you area.
- Surveyors — These people are skilled in evaluating the structural integrity of buildings. If you hire a surveyor because you are concerned about the structural condition of your property, their survey might typically cove such things as rot and infestation, whether there is any presence of damp in the building, the condition of the plumbing and other services, and the overall condition of the property. They will inspect your Home and may make recommendations as to what work they feel is necessary. For instance, if your floor is sagging in the front room, they may suggest that the floor should be replaced and will also able to tell you what caused the problems and the best way to prevent a recurrence.
Negotiating a price
- If you are intending to hire professionals to carry out major construction work on your home, it is vital to ensure that you pick a competent and reputable individual or firm and that a detailed costing and are agreed upon in advance.
- An estimate is merely an indication of what the final cost is likely to be and can be In the toms of a written or verbal estimate. An estimate is not a formal-contract.
- A quotation is a fixed price and will be the price that you pay. The figure is legally binding and forms the basis of the contract made between you and the professional. Any variation or changes on either side should be agreed in writing between the two parties. When looking at the cost for work to he carried out, the figure should not change unless you alter specifications for the work.
- Never offer to pay tradespeople up front, as this can encourage them to neglect the project — if money is to, be paid once work is completed this is a greater incentive for them to stay on site.
- If expensive materials need to be bought, however, it is acceptable for the tradesperson to expect that these costs will be met prior to installation.
- Give clear instructions and specifications for any work. Outline precisely what you are asking the contractor to do and what is to be done by others. This avoids misunderstandings and disputes later on.
- Payments should be agreed at an early stage and certainly before work starts. For larger contracts likely to take some time such as a major house extension, you will need to agree a schedule indicating stages when payment will be made for a specific portion of work. There are times when payments should be withheld, but on the other hand unnecessary delays will sour relationships. If the contractor has done a good job then they should be paid promptly, certainly within their terms of payment.