Embarking on a renovation project can be stressful. Here are some tips on how to make sure that your project is an total success. These suggestions should help you save time, money and stress and avoid misunderstandings with your contractors.
1. Check If You Need Any Type Of Permit
You may need to secure more than one type of permissions or approvals before you can commence work on your home. You might want to check if you need building regulations approval (these might be needed even for small improvements) or planning permission (needed when you are building something new or undertaking a major change) for example. You do not have to apply for building regulations approval yourself if your contractor is registered with a competent person scheme. However, if your contractor is not able to assist you with these requirements you might have to submit a building notice or a full plans application yourself to the Building Control Body in your area. If you have to get approval or permission you can consider hiring a surveyor or an architect to help you with the application process. If your property falls within a conservation area you will also have to check with your council before you do any work. One more thing to consider if you are a leaseholder of the property is that you may need permission from the freeholder before work begins. It is important that all necessary permits are in place as failure to do so may result in a fine or you could even be prosecuted. You could also be asked to remove any work done.
2. Make Sure You Work With A Reputable Contractor
There are many options when it comes to hiring a contractor for your project. A good place to begin will be with recommendations from friends or family. If you are not able to find a good recommendations you should ask your contractor candidates to share with you some examples of previous work they have done similar to your project. You can consider requesting for references from previous clients thought this might not always be an option. Make sure that your appointed contractors are qualified, especially those dealing with electrics or gas. Check credentials and reviews on-line and take a close look at their website Ig anything looks amiss, or information is contradictory, it is always best to double check. Take into consideration things such as how professional their communications are, if they have a proper letterhead, business card, a professional looking website and an office. A business that takes pride in the way they communicate with their client will probably take pride in the work they deliver. Be wary of contractors that only give you a mobile number as they may be difficult to contact after your project is finished should there be any problem.
Make sure you meet and interview your contractor before your project begins. To ensure that there are no miscommunications, write down a clear and detailed description of what you want done. Be straight forward about your budget and set a list of questions that will help you get all the information you need to compare and choose between providers. When interviewing your candidates, ensure you are a good match, if for any reason you do not feel comfortable with a specific contractor, it is best you do not collaborate with them.
3. Get A Proper Quote
Get everything in writing. Do not rely on a verbal promise. Before engaging, it is a good idea to ask if the contractor in question will charge you to provide a quote – some do, it is always better to ask. A written quote also make it easier for you to compare between providers. Don’t forget, once you agree to a quote, this is considered a binding agreement between you and your chosen contractor, whether it is a written quote or not. Having a written quote however, will make it easier for your to check what was agreed and use as a resource should there be a dispute.
Remember as well that a quote and an estimate are not the same. A quote is a fixed price while an estimate is a figure provided for reference. A contractor can only make additional charges if there is a variation on the work that was originally agreed upon, if they let you know that there is extra work to be done and you agree to pay more for it, or if they have made a genuine mistake when writing down or calculating a price (they have the legal right to charge you what it should have been).
There are a few red flags that you should look out for when engaging a contractor. If a contractor refuses to give you a written quote for example, it could be a sign that they are being dishonest. As well, if a quote is much cheaper than others, it might mean that they are unreliable, that they lack the necessary skills or that they have not understood the project scope.
You should always be very clear as to what you want done. This will help contractors provide you with an accurate quote and avoid misunderstandings down the line. A quote should always include a fixed price, a breakdown of all the work to be done and the materials needed, a separate cost for each material and par of the work, how long the quote is valid for, if the price includes VAT and situations that could trigger a change in price.
It is wise to check if the contractor you engage has the correct type of insurance. Ask to see the insurance policies and make sure they do not run out before the projected finish date of your project.
A reliable contractor should have Public Liability Insurance to cover you and them if someone is hurt or the property is damaged. If they do not have it, and you still want to work with them, you may consider taking out an insurance policy of your own.
Employers who work through a company also are required by law to have Employer’s Liability Insurance. It does not matter if it is their own company or not. This will cover you ad the company if they are hurt on the job.
As soon as you give a contractor the go-ahead, you have made a contract with them, even if it has not been written down.
Always get a contract in writing before you give the go-ahead. A contract will allow you to make sure you and the contractor are on the same page and will provide you a base for discussion should there be any disagreements. Once you have a contract, review it with care, and make sure that it includes everything you agreed.
A contract should also give you a clear time-frame covering the length of the project. It should include start and finish dates and what might happen if there are any delays including what mitigating measures the contractor has in place.
A contract should also cover costs such as skips and clean-up, who pays to buy or hire materials be it for the main contractor or any sub-contractor and how paperwork for these costs will be handled. It should also specify if any sub-contractor will be used.
It should also cover payment. It should clearly state how and when you will pay.
If you have a renovation project you would like to discuss with us, get in touch or visit us at our office in Hammersmith. We are always happy to chat on how we can help you bring your project to life.