I can’t do it my­self any more, so how do I know who to trust?

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wingfield

frus­tra­tion for the house­holder and a fre­quently, a big bill.

While your trust is ad­mirable I would be very cau­tious about pay­ing an hourly rate un­less it is some­one you know and can trust. This amounts to “day work” and more of­ten than not re­sults in the work ex­pand­ing to fill the time avail­able.

Choos­ing a trades­man from the lo­cal press can be a lot­tery. Although some will have served an ap­pren­tice­ship many will be or­di­nary job­bing builders with no qual­i­fi­ca­tions (the no­table ex­cep­tions are elec­tri­cians and heat­ing en­gi­neers, who have to be reg­is­tered). If you are look­ing to un­der­take a project of any sig­nif­i­cant size such as a loft con­ver­sion or ex­ten­sion then it’s bet­ter to em­ploy a char­tered build­ing sur­veyor or if the project war­rants, an ar­chi­tect. They can de­sign, spec­ify and ad­min­is­ter the project on your be­half. This will in­clude help­ing you se­lect the con­trac­tor, or­gan­is­ing the ten­der process and is­su­ing cer­tifi­cates to re­lease stage pay­ments where ap­pro­pri­ate. It may even be worth­while talk­ing to a build­ing sur­veyor about some of your smaller jobs as they could as­sist with pri­ori­tis­ing what needs to be done and more im­por­tantly will have on-go­ing re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal con­trac­tors who are pre­pared to carry out the jobs at rea­son­able prices. How­ever, if you do de­cide to em­ploy a builder di­rectly there are a few sim­ple steps that will limit your risk. Firstly, if the ad­vert has no land line or ad­dress I would be sus­pi­cious.

Al­ways in­sist on an itemised quo­ta­tion for the whole job and do not agree to pay an hourly rate. This quo­ta­tion ef­fec­tively be­comes the con­tract although be warned, any vari­a­tions made as the job pro­ceeds can be in­or­di­nately ex­pen­sive. It is more than rea­son­able to ask for an up­date as the job pro­ceeds to en­sure there are no sur­prises with the fi­nal ac­count. More im­por­tantly, never pay up front for goods or ser­vices. A rep­utable con­trac­tor will have ac­counts at build­ing sup­pli­ers al­low­ing them a de­gree of credit. Ask for re­ceipts and only pay for ma­te­ri­als that are on site and un­der your con­trol. If pos­si­ble on larger jobs try to ne­go­ti­ate a five per cent re­ten­tion that can be paid af­ter three months, giv­ing you time to en­sure there are no de­fects. Fi­nally ask for a re­ceipt.

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