Choosing a Contractor
Previous - Using a Contractor
Everyone has heard stories about builders being unreliable although most of them are apocryphal! Nevertheless, careful thought should be given to appointing a builder because he will become part of your household for a while so you must make sure that you are happy with every aspect of this arrangement, not just the financial side of things.
The best way to engage a builder's services is by recommendation. Someone who has worked satisfactorily for a relation, friend, work colleague or neighbour is obviously the first choice.
The worst choice is to use someone who knocks on your door looking for work. Reputable firms and tradesmen have no need to adopt this approach - their order books are usually filled with repeat orders from satisfied clients or from recommendations.
A typical line from a door-knocker contractor would be, ‘Excuse me, but we have just finished a job round the corner and have some tarmac left over. I've just been looking at your drive and we could do it for you for about £400, that's a 75% discount! We could start straightaway and we'll have the whole thing finished in a couple of hours. So if you'll just move your car...'
First, the contractor hasn't just finished a job round the corner, unless it's another rip-off. Second, it will cost you more than £400 - that figure is just for openers - they'll find some extra work to charge you for. Third, it isn't a 75% discount or anything like and it will probably cost you more to put right their shoddy work afterwards. Fourth and most importantly, don't move your car!
Don't argue with these people. Just say no, but if they persist, say you'll have to ask your partner who works for the Police or the Revenue and Customs- a mention of these names and your doorstep will quickly become a cowboy-free zone!
If you cannot find a recommended contractor, look in Yellow Pages for a member of one of the following organisations:
- Federation of Master Builders (0207-242 7583)
- Institute of Plumbing (017108 472791)
- Electrical Contractors Association (0207-313 4800)
Before accepting a quotation, always discuss the matter of insurances with the builder. He should have cover for Employer's and Public Liability and All-Risks and ask to examine the policies to make sure that they are valid.
The Federation of Master Builders offer a MasterBond insurance that includes cover for the extra cost of employing another contractor if the first one goes bankrupt.
Next - Obtaining a Quote