Can anyone recommend a local builder?
Picking a builder's name from the telephone directory isn't always the best option.
You don't know their work ethics or the quality of their work. Good tradesmen gain their reputation through recommendation and referral
from previous customers. If you know of people in your area who have had similar work done, drop by one evening after work and ask them
about the home improvement company they used. Specifically, ask questions about the builder's timekeeping, cleanliness, the quality of service,
any guarantees or warranties on the workmanship and of course whether or not they were good value for money. Value for money is not the same
thing as the cheapest price! Cheapest is not always best; if you want a job well done, you often need to spend just that little bit more.
You get what you pay for with building work just as you do with most things.
What if you don't know anyone?
Perhaps you have only recently moved into an area and so don't know anyone who could give you a recommendation.
How can you find a competent builder
? There are several web sites that deal specifically
with finding and recommending trades people. HomePro and the FairTrades Association both have a very good selection of tradesmen listed in their trade
directories, directories that cover the entire UK. Find the trade you need and scroll through the list of local vetted tradesmen. The listings will often be
accompanied by customer testimonials and recommendations. The advantage of this type of vetting is that the tradesmen rely on the work they get from
these directories and therefore need to earn and maintain a good reputation.They have a lot to protect and will go the extra mile not only to satisfy you
but also to ensure that you are likely to recommend them. There's no reason why you shouldn't approach anyone who's recently had
building work done and ask them for their opinion. Most people will be only too pleased to recommend - or warn against!
Get quotes from at least three highly rated people to get a better idea of what the job will really cost. Remember, a quote is a fixed price whereas an
estimate may change depending on many factors. If you change job details half way through the job, expect a new quote that may be a lot higher.
Also use the quotes you are given to negotiate a better price from the tradesman you trust the most. It is a great bargaining tool after all.
If your chosen tradesman is a member of a trade association or other professional body, give that association a call for a reference and also to
check if he is still a fully paid-up member. Ask if the work is guaranteed and if so whether or not it is backed up by insurance; find out as
much as you can and ask if you can have such insurance where appropriate. Be sure to ask just how long the workmanship is guaranteed for
and what manufacturer warranties you will get. High quality fixtures and fittings will have a better warranty period, something worth bearing in mind.
Cutting costs, as most know, often results in disappointment, When you have decided on which tradesman or company will do the work, get them to
agree in writing to the exact details of the work they will do, when they will start, finish and just how much it will cost.
People to avoid
Never have work done by someone who has come knocking at your door unless subsequent enquiries prove them to be reputable.
The FairTrades Association does not recommend that you sign any contracts on your doorstep. Any legitimate company will drop a
flyer through your door and wait for you to call them. They may knock on your door to tell you more about their business and set
up an appointment to discuss the proposed work with you at a later stage. This is a good arrangement and will give you time to do
your research on their workmanship and find out if they have suitable accreditation. Never buy or sign any contracts during the first visit.
Wait for any quotes from "local" tradesmen to arrive in the post, or even better, ask the home improvement company to
drop off the quoted price a few days later and explain to you how they arrived at it. Any reputable tradesman would be more than
happy to do so. Allow yourself sufficient time to study the quote and don't hesitate to raise any queries you may have.
Any established local builder
should be willing and able to explain and advise without exerting any undue pressure on you. It will be up to you to
keep control and choose the builder with whom you feel most comfortable. That way you will be happy with the end result.
Keep the trades person's business card; you may need him in the future. If he did a good job, you will want to recommend that
tradesman to others. If you found your tradesman on a website, make every effort to leave a referral so that others just like you can
benefit from your happy experience.