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Before You Start Building Work, Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

First Some Covid stuff, that may change.

  • Plumbers, electricians, and other tradespeople will also come to your home and do maintenance as long as they are free of coronavirus symptoms. They should sit at least 2 meters away from you and stop any people who are weak.
  • Whether the job you're getting completed isn't urgent, you should consider delegating it to someone else.

Back to the Article

  • Citizens Advice wrote some excellent advice about preparing for building work. You can read the full article here.
  • Otherwise our understanding to the advice below.

Measures to save time and money

When it comes to getting construction jobs, upgrades, or maintenance completed on your house, these measures should help you save time, money, and tension. They'll also assist you in avoiding issues with vendors such as decorators and electricians, as well as engineers, plumbers, and other trades people.

builder working

Step 1: Determine whether you need authorization or consent.

Before you begin construction on your house, you may need to obtain several types of authorization or consent.

Often double-check if you require:

  • Building regulations clearance can be required also for minor changes, such as removing windows or doors.
  • Planning approval is normally needed when you choose to create something new or make a big alteration to your home, such as an expansion.

When you employ a builder that is licensed for a "competent individual program," you won't have to file for construction regulations approval yourself. This is a list of government-approved schemes.

You'll have to send a planning notice or a full plans submission to the Building Control Body if you don't use a builder who is licensed with a qualified individual scheme. You would also pay a fee for them to come check the job you have completed.

Seek permission or clearance

To apply for building regulations consent or planning permission, you can need to employ a surveyor or architect. If you can't afford it, go to the nearest Citizen's Advice and inquire about the Chartered Surveyor's Voluntary Service.

Whether you're in a protected area

When your house is in a protected area, you must also consult with your local council before doing any work on it.

Whether you have a mortgage

If you own the leasehold (rather than the freehold) on your house, check your lease. Before you begin work, you may need to obtain permission from the freeholder. And if the contract prohibits you from making improvements, you can always get approval from the freeholder. It's possible that you'll have to pay some fees.

Check to see how you can get the job done.

You could be convicted, charged, or forced to pay to make it right if you don't have the authorization or consent you need. You can also need to reverse the behaviour, such as removing a new extension.

Step 2: How do I locate reputable builders or contractors?

If you can't get personal endorsements from someone you meet, request feedback from consultants. It is preferable to obtain:

2 or 3 recent cases of related work they've done contact information for the people they worked for - it's best to contact them directly because written reports aren't necessarily reliable.

If the vendors refuse to have credentials, call the Better Business Bureau. Contractors who refuse to have credentials are likely to be unethical.

You should make use of:

  • For gas work, such as installing a boiler or cooker, a licensed gas engineer (corgi) is required;
  • For electrical work, such as installing new lighting or rewiring, a qualified electrician is required;
  • For work that requires building regulations permission, anyone with a professional individual scheme is required (unless you got approval yourself)

Check if the contractor is a part of an authorized trader scheme as well.

Take a look at what a contractor/tradesman has to offer

It's a good idea to double-check what a contractor or tradesman on their website says, particularly if they came to your door or called to provide their services. You may, for example:

  • Request a business card or letterhead, or get complete contact information, and then call the company to confirm that it exists and that the contractor works with them.
  • Demand verification of credentials, such as an NVQ in building for architects or a Construction Skills Certification Scheme certificate (trade associations can tell you about qualifications for particular types of work)
  • If a contractor claims to be a member of a trade union, check their website to see if they are.

Step 3: Before you employ a contractor, conduct a face-to-face site visit or interview

A quotation is a guarantee by the contractor that the job will be completed at a set price. Get a written quotation instead of relying on a verbal quote.

Any vendors bill for quotes; find out if this is the case before proceeding.

Before you choose one contractor, get written quotations from at least three others. Comparing quotes will help you figure out whether you're having a good deal.

Whether or not you have a signed agreement with the contractor after you say yes to a quote, which is a legally binding agreement between you and the contractor. However, putting it in writing allows you to double-check what you agreed to to prove it later if there is a disagreement.

Estimates and quotes

Be certain you receive a quote rather than a guess. A estimate is a set price that lets you know exactly what you'll get and how much it will cost. Since an estimation is just a guess, you might end up paying more.

  • You can't be charged higher than the price on the contractor's quote unless:
  • You request additional work that isn't included in the quote.
  • They inform you that they will have to do more work, and you agree to pay a higher fee for it.

They made a real error when writing down or measuring the price, and they have the legal right to charge you the correct amount.

If you suspect the contractor of being untrustworthy

If a contractor refuses to include a written quotation, be careful. It's a red flag that they may be untrustworthy.

Also, be wary if their price is significantly cheaper than other quotes you get. It could indicate that they lack the necessary qualifications or expertise, or that they are not being truthful. It's quite possible that they're not quoting for the same job.

What does a quote contain?

Have a detailed list of the job you want done; this will help you find the best deal and avoid any misunderstandings later.

A quotation should contain the following information:

  • a fixed average price rather than a regular cost
  • a list of all the tasks to be completed and the materials used
  • individual costs for each material and component of the project
  • how long does the offer last?
  • if there is a VAT included in the price
  • when the price is subject to increase, such as whether you commit to additional job

If you have a regular cost rather than a set overall sum, there's a chance the contractor can prolong the project and make more profits. To avoid this, have them put the following in writing:

  • How long would the job take?
  • How many hours do you work in a day?
  • When they need your permission to work additional days

Step 4: Verify that the tradesperson is covered by the appropriate insurance.

Before you say yes to a bid, make sure the provider is well insured and that you have a signed contract.

What to look for in a contractor's insurance policy

Inquire into insurance plans to make sure they don't expire until the job is completed. If they are required to get insurance, they must show you the contract.

Insurance is a form of protection. It's a smart idea to ask contractors whether they have policies that will protect you and them if anyone is injured or property is destroyed (for example, your home or your neighbor's). You would want to consider getting your own cover if they don't have any.

Contractors who work for a corporation must have employer's liability insurance; if they don't, they are violating the rules. It makes no difference whether it's their own business or not. It protects both you and the employer if anyone is injured on the job.

If the employer isn't covered by insurance, you're on your own.

If a contractor lacks the proper cover and something goes wrong or someone is injured, you can be able to pay for repairs or go to court and pay fines and legal costs.

Check for additional insurance

Other forms of insurance may be eligible, but keep in mind that the contractor is responsible for doing the job with fair care and expertise. If they don't, you can get the job redone or a portion of the expense refunded.

Contractors' all-risk policy pays for the cost of repairing work that is lost before it is finished and before your insurance kicks in.

If the contractor provides it, you can purchase an insurance-backed warranty or pledge as part of the job bill. Before you order it, make sure you know just what it covers. It should cover the expense of completing or repairing the work if the contractor does a poor job or goes out of business.

What to look for in your home insurance

If you have home or contents insurance, check with the provider and see if you'll be safe when the work is being done. It's possible that you'll have to pay extra for premiums both before and after the job.

Your insurer may want to know who you're hiring and what kind of insurance they offer. 

How to safeguard yourself and your property from harm or destruction

It's worth checking at securing home and contents insurance before the job begins if you don't already have it. You will feel more comfortable ensuring that you have protection in place in the event of injury or loss.

Step 5: Get a contract in writing.

You've made a deal with a contractor as soon as you give them the go-ahead, even though it's not written down. Still try to get a contract in writing before you give the go-ahead. A signed contract will help you get what you pay for, or at least get part of your money back, if the contractor doesn't do what you agreed.

Check to see how the contractor's deal includes anything you settled on. You should write your own if they don't.

If the contractor refuses to supply you with written documentation;

Contractors who refuse to submit anything in paper should be avoided.

Ask yourself why? Remember a written agreement, protects them as much as you, especially should it go down the legal route. So it makes sense for the business to also have a written contact.

Assistance in drafting your own deal

Written contracts do not have to be written in legalese; they just need to outline:

  • you're getting just what you're asking for (they can refer back to the quote for this)
  • Anything you've decided to, such as deadlines, clean-up, supplies, and payments

Examining sample contracts or using a blueprint to construct a contract - for example, for:

  • You will get a free contract design for home renovations or maintenance.
  • You can download an example contract or purchase a contract blueprint for construction work.

Timings

Check to see if the deal includes the following:

  • The start and end dates
  • If you've settled to a regular wage, the number of days the job will take and how many working hours there are in a day are important considerations.
  • Why would there be delays, and what will the contractor do about it?

Organizing

Check to see if the deal includes the following:

  • When and how can the contractors remove rubbish and clean up after themselves?
  • Who is responsible for the delivery and removal of the skips?

Subcontractors, materials, and machinery

Check to see if the deal includes the following:

  • Who pays for supplies and machinery that the contractor purchases, and how can they provide you with receipts and paperwork?
  • Whether or not they'll use subcontractors, and when they'll do so

Expenses

Check to see how the deal specifies if and what you'll pay. Attempt to:

  • Pay with a credit card rather than cash.
  • pay in installments
  • Deposits or upfront fees should be avoided.
  • Invest in any financial protection.

If your contractor is only willing to accept cash

Contractors who only take cash or need full payment up front should be avoided because it affects your ability to claim money back should work not be done to a satisfactory standard. 

credit cards for payment

Paying with a credit card rather than cash

When you pay for a credit or debit card, you would be entitled to get your money back from the bank if anything goes wrong, such as the employer failing to show up and refusing to refund your deposit.

If this occurs, call the bank and request that the chargeback system be included.

It could be better to inform the bank that you want to "file a section 75 claim" if you spend more than £100 via credit card. It's a different way of getting the money back.

Paying in installments

This is a good idea, particularly if the work is large, since it allows you to correct any issues before making the final payment. Make it clear that payments are due at what stage of the project. It also helps the tradesperson buy tools. goods etc.

Avoid Deposits

If something goes wrong or the worker doesn't show up, don't promise to pay anything up front.

When they ask for a loan to pay for supplies, try to purchase them instead of paying a deposit; that way, if anything goes wrong, at least you own the materials.

You will not be able to stop paying a deposit if the job would take a long time. Attempt to reduce it as far as practicable, and don't commit to more than 25%. Often obtain a deposit slip, as well as vouchers for the materials covered by the deposit.

Obtaining protection

You will keep your deposit or staged payments safe until the job is over, for example, by using a:

  • Your money will be held in a safe account until you and the contractor are satisfied with the job.
  • Any contractors will sell you an insurance-backed warranty or promise that will offset the cost of completing or repairing work if they do a poor job or go out of business.

Time limit for cooling off

If you change your mind within 14 days of giving the go-ahead or signing a signed document, you will be entitled to terminate the contract. You would be required to pay for any or all of the work if you decided that it should begin within those 14 days.

Step 6: Be ready to cope with challenges.

Until construction begins, obtain the contractor's complete contact information. It's easier to work with any issues that arise if you know how to contact others.

As soon as anything happens that you don't like, you should:

  • Request that the builder or contractor rectify the situation.
  • Come to a consensus on how they'll handle it, and have it written down.

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