Expert advice for planning projects for your home or business
Plan in advance
Write down a description of what work you would like undertaking in as detailed a way as possible. The clearer it is in your mind, the more likely it is that you will be able to describe it to your chosen trusted tradesman. Aim to obtain a specification and drawings of the planned work.
What is the difference between a quote and an estimate?
Is VAT included?
Ask whether VAT has been included or not? This can often be an unpleasant surprise if not accounted for.
What if I want to make a few changes to the plan?
Make sure all changes in the brief are in writing and a new quotation has been received and approved before work commences.
Do I need planning permission or building regulations approval?
If you live in England or Wales, you can find planning and building regulations advice for many common building work projects at www.planningportal.gov.uk.
If you live in Scotland, find out more about your responsibilities for Building Warrants at http://scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you will find more information about planning and building regulations at www.buildingcontrol-ni.com.
Do I have to notify my neighbours?
If the work you are planning affects neighbouring properties, then you will need to discuss with them about what you are planning before any work starts, especially if you need a Party Wall Agreement.
Is your chosen company qualified and capable of carrying out the work?
Make sure you choose a recommended tradesman or company and check their qualifications and experience of carrying out similar work. Ask to see references from other satisfied customers. You may require a specialist artisan for certain niche projects.
How long should the work take and when can they start?
When you accept the quotation, make sure you get confirmed start and completion dates, preferably in writing. Ensure you and the approved tradesmen agree on details such as what time they will arrive and leave and if they will come every day until the job is completed.
Do they provide any guarantees?
You need to select an accountable and reliable tradesman. Ask if the work is covered by a guarantee, how long the guarantee lasts and whether it is backed by insurance so that, should the company cease trading, any defects will still be remedied. An insurance-backed warranty is desirable, particularly if the job is sizeable.
Do they inspire you with confidence?
Think about how a company responds to your enquiry; do they turn up on time, how well do they listen to find out what you need to have done, how carefully do they survey and measure? Ask when you can expect the quotation and check whether it arrives on time.
Pricing and payment
If the quotation from your preferred company seems high, it is usually still worth talking with them. It doesn’t always pay to go for the cheapest quote, as in most cases you are really paying for the experience of your workmen. Discuss your options if you need to reduce the price and ask for any revised quotes and specification in writing.
Make sure you never pay the whole amount up front and always keep a percentage of the cost back until the project is finished and you are satisfied.
When you do make payment, ensure you pay the company that has done the work and never an individual person, unless of course the company is owned and run by a single individual.
Check that your invoices are accurate, the VAT is separately itemised and always get a receipt for every single payment you make. Obtaining a receipt is vital as without any receipts, you have no proof of payment.
If the work is to be conducted inside your home, check whether you need to remove any furniture or carpets and curtains and ask what safeguards the company will make to protect your home.
So, as you can see there are many things to consider before you embark on your project, but with a little careful research and planning there shouldn’t be too many obstacles to overcome. If you require further advice, please feel free to contact us here.