Sunday, 13 September 2015

Tips on using a builder for domestic works

At quote stage
  • Contact trade associations for lists of members.
  • Make clear you want quote, not estimate (quote is fixed; with an estimate you pay "reasonable price"). Fine to caveat for client changing mind or major unexpected issues.
  • Give them specification in writing and ask them to make sure it's all included in the quote.
  • Need to confirm they will do it all in one go, not stop/start.
  • For smaller works, ask how many people and how many days (as helps you to assess quote).
  • If you haven't gone on personal recommendation, ask for references.
On receipt of quote
  • If unsure, use MoneySavingExpert's "Is this quote fair?" board.
  • If they charge for sundries, ask how much they will cost.  If they can't give you a figure, ask them to keep receipts and make clear you will only pay if there's a receipt.
  • If skip needed, do they arrange that?
  • If material being delivered to site, will they take delivery?
  • If snags, do they come back and sort?
  • Research in detail the things you would do if doing it yourself, and make sure they do all that (correct sized tile spacers etc).
  • Check they will be using good quality products (e.g. anti-bacterial grout).
  • Only pay a small deposit.  Get a receipt for this and any other payments.  Good tradesmen should have credit accounts with materials suppliers.
What to include in a contract
  • A fixed price (not an estimate)
  • Whether price includes VAT
  • Define in detail what works to be carried out and ensure definition includes "all other works incidental to and reasonably inferable from the scope of the work"
  • Start date, finish date
  • If possible, isolate 10% of fixed price, call it "early completion bonus" and have it ebb away if build runs late.
  • Staged instalments and when they are to be paid
  • What constitutes a finished job e.g. a clean and repaired site
  • What building materials are included (should be all of them)
  • Provisions for rubbish removal
  • Provisions for toilet for workers
  • Protection of areas needed for access (e.g. boarding driveway)
  • Site to be left clean and tidy at end of every day
  • Confirmation that builder will provide all necessary documents (e.g. building regulations sign off)
  • Provision to retain 2.5% of contract price for 3-6 month snagging period
Prior to work starting
  • Square the neighbours.
  • No matter how careful they are, they will damage something. Move or protect as much as you can.
  • Dust will get everywhere.  Put dust sheets over furniture, seal doors, etc.
On completion
  • Don't pay immediately as problems may not materialise for a week or two at least.
  • Check everything in fine detail by reference to an industry snagging list.
  • Spray water to check seals etc.

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