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Real Homes - - PROJECT PLANNER -

DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN STAFF?

If your main con­trac­tor em­ploys their own trades­peo­ple, how many? It can work both ways: di­rect staff are easy for him/her to get hold of and con­trol and, de­pend­ing on the salary, usu­ally works out cheaper than em­ploy­ing sub­con­trac­tors, even tak­ing into ac­count the ad­di­tional pen­sion, NI, hol­i­day con­tri­bu­tions and so on. It is cer­tainly a sign of the busi­ness be­ing es­tab­lished. On the other hand, many main con­trac­tors strug­gle with the time it takes to co-or­di­nate and set up their staff ev­ery day and deal with all the ad­min in­volved in em­ploy­ing peo­ple – rather than bring­ing in spe­cial­ists as and when re­quired.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR SUB­CON­TRAC­TORS…

Ul­ti­mately, the peo­ple car­ry­ing out the work will not be your main con­trac­tor but the trades­peo­ple he or she em­ploys. You’ll need to find out about them and their work. How good is the brick­layer? Can they do the mor­tar lines you want? Is the elec­tri­cian they use able to in­stall a smart ther­mo­stat?

ARE THEY HAPPY TO GIVE YOU CON­TROL OF KEY AR­EAS?

Chances are, you have your heart set on a par­tic­u­lar set of doors, win­dows, bath­room, kitchen, or even heat­ing sys­tem. Your main con­trac­tor will have their own views and their own set of con­tacts in these ar­eas – some of which they might ex­pect to make a per­cent­age off for sup­ply­ing to you. Is your main con­trac­tor will­ing to let you take on these pack­ages, and what are the im­pli­ca­tions?

WHAT ARE THE PAY­MENT TERMS?

Main con­trac­tors re­quire work­ing cash flow to pay their trades­men – ei­ther weekly or monthly – and for a while you’ll be the main source of this cash. Most projects work on a stage pay­ment ba­sis, with the main con­trac­tor split­ting the con­tract into a hand­ful of stages and in­voic­ing at the end of each el­e­ment (e.g. roof on and se­cure, first fix com­plete, etc.). Money is one of the few el­e­ments of lever­age you have as a home­owner, so you would ide­ally be hold­ing as much of this to­wards the end of the project as pos­si­ble. Be­ware con­tracts that are front loaded, i.e. the bulk of the over­all pay­ment is bal­anced early on. So-called com­mence­ment pay­ments are fine, within rea­son – but again, you shouldn’t be pay­ing for small day-to-day ma­te­ri­als or trades­men. If you want a £20,000 kitchen, on the other hand, why wouldn’t you buy it your­self rather than ask the builder to fork out for it or even put it on their ac­count and use up all their credit?

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