What to consider when appointing your own contractor
As with any business, there are good, and not so good tradespeople out there.
Some of you may already have access to a trusted reliable builder. When you do it can feel like winning the jackpot! Because whoever you choose will likely have free access to your home – and your teapot – for the duration of the building work. So you need to find not only a skilled resource, but one you can build a mutually respectful working relationship with. And, just as importantly, one with the right personality for you.
But if you don’t have such a contact in your iPhone (or Android!) we have a few pointers to find the right contractor.
Complete due diligence
Make sure the tradesman or company is legitimate. You can check this on the GOV.UK website.
And it’s a good idea to check if they have an office landline number. If something goes wrong after they’ve been paid, it’s all too easy for a builder to avoid your call on their mobile.
Do they belong to a Trade Association?
Although membership can’t guarantee perfect work, if there are any problems, it’s more likely you will be dealt with professionally and fairly when seeking resolution to complaints and issues.
To be able to join a Trade Association a builder (each trade will have a different one) will need to meet specific criteria and demonstrate exceptionally high standards of work. They will be checked regularly and risk being ‘struck off’ if they are found to be below the expected standard.
Do they have appropriate insurance in place? If, worst case scenario, something goes wrong, is the builder covered?
- Builders Public Liability
- Employer’s Liability
- Installers All-Risk Cover
- Professional Indemnity
Always remember to check how long the workmanship is guaranteed for; and get this confirmed in writing.
Also, find out how long the company has been in business. A 10-year guarantee is worth nothing if the company closes down every few years and re-opens in a different name. Which, sadly, does happen.
Get your quote in writing and make sure the builder documents any future alterations to the quote.
Similarly, it can be a good idea to get a written estimate for possible unforeseen additional work up front.
This one of the most effective ways to be sure of a builders quality; and today, social media allows us access to open forums. People love to recommend when they’ve had excellent service.
Equally most are not shy in sharing horror stories. Do remember to read both sides of a review however. If it’s terrible, but the builder has been allowed to reply, do read it. There may have been one-off extenuating circumstances. And you can learn a lot from the way a business responds to a review!
You can also ask your shortlisted builder to provide contact details of previous clients who would be willing to share their experience.
Positive signs to look out for
It’s a good sign if your builder is well organised and wants to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s before any works commence.
It may take a little longer and involve several phone calls and visits but it’s better that you are both on the same page from the start. And also the work can be scheduled and you will have a more accurate start date and completion date.