At ADS we like to help our clients as much as possible , over time we see the same problems occur particularly with domestic work . Lack of clear written instructions by clients to builders are as much a problem as builders not finishing or poor work.
Here are a few items to consider when you commence your project.
1. Make sure the drawings are comprehensive, and write down anything not shown on the drawings that need to be agreed later, i.e. bathroom suites or kitchens. If the detail is not known ask the builder to allow a provisional sum so its included in the cost but you can refine the detail later . Adding it in later is invariably more expensive that included in the original contract . In addition to the drawings you should compile a list or schedule of all the things you want that not be on the drawings e.g plastic or stainless switches , tiled or wooden floor, changing doors or additional painting etc .
2. Always get 3 quotations, the prices may vary and the lowest may not be the best, always compare the quotes items may be missed on some of the quotes. Do this if you can even if you prefer a certain builder it will give you piece of mind later,as there will always be someone saying they could have got it done cheaper .
3. Get quotes for specialist or client chosen items directly – i.e. bi fold doors, fancy radiators,shower enclosures etc. So you know if you are in budget. Your builder may be able to beat those quotes using trade prices ..
4. Do not be swayed by “we can start next week but we need the deposit now ” – good builders are usually busy builders and cannot start straight away.
5. Do not pay large deposits or be convinced by “we need a deposit for materials” All viable builders have accounts at the merchants, if not why not? You could end up financing the end of their previous job. However there is no reason why the first payment should not be after a week’s work, but only for that week’s work not more.
6. Make sure you have a contract, we recommend a JCT home owners contract. This is cheap and written in plain English and tested (http://www.jctltd.co.uk/category/home-owner-contracts) and comes with guidance notes. If all goes well you may never need it , but if it goes wrong it is the document that any arbiter or court needs to see.
7. If the builder does not want to use a standard proven contract, question why not?
8. Agree a payment schedule in the contract and stick to it, do not pay ahead of the satisfactory works on site. Usually pay for completed works but retaining 5% of each payment, 2.5% of the retention handed over at completion and the remaining 2.5% after a maintenance period to deal with defects . If the builder does not return to repair the defects then you have the 2.5% to get someone else to do so ( the JCT contract outlines this process )
9. If the builders estimate is vague, read it through and question anything you think is missing or unclear, and then get any changes confirmed in writing.
10. If you want to make changes do not rely on verbal agreements , write it down, ask for a price, and only them make your decision. Use a triplicate book , give a copy to the builder , both sign it as agreed amendments .
11. Always get the builder to price amendments before giving the go ahead, you may not understand the financial implications that even small amendments can involve. Late amendments on site in particular can be very expensive.
12. Agree if the builder can use your WC facilities, water supply, electrics etc. or if they have to supply their own.
13. Agree where materials can be stored and access arrangements.
14. Make sure you tell your house insurers. You are invariably not covered whilst building works are carried out unless you tell your insurers. They may ask for extra premiums -they did not take on the risk of unknown builders in your house. Scaffolds outside your windows and the house opened give burglars easy access.
15. Any scaffold to your house should be made inaccessible when there is no one on site and ideally alarmed. 16. You are legally liable under the Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations for health and safety on your site unless you appoint someone to take on that responsibility – usually the builder. But if you see a dangerous practice tell the builder immediately , better than feeling guilty when the injury happens.
17. You are responsible for any damage to your neighbour’s property and any Party Wall agreements that are needed – not your builder.
18. Are the builders adequately insured? Particularly if you are not intending to stay in the building whilst the work commences. Does it cover all aspects “contractors all risk” or is it just public liability. Ask for a copy of the schedule.
19. Make sure any agreements or awards are in place before you start work on any aspect that needs a Party Wall agreement -see http://www.fpws.org.uk
20. Further guidance can be found at a useful website
If you need further help give us call