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To feel iffy about giving builder 50% deposit before they start work?

(33 Posts)
Missnearlyvintage Mon 25-Feb-19 16:24:23

We have picked some tradespeople to do about £2000 worth of building work for us.

We received their quote, and booked them to start next week, but the terms on the quote are that we pay a 50% deposit before work starts.
The quote has a description of the works but is not itemised so I cannot see how much the materials will cost.

I didn't really pay attention to this when I accepted the quote (I should've I know!), but am now becoming increasingly concerned about it - we haven't paid anything to them yet.

I've never paid a tradesperson a deposit for work before it commences before - we have always paid in full when the work is complete and satisfactory.

We have not signed a contract regarding the work or the deposit.

AIBU to be concerned about this, and is it reasonable to go back to the company and try to agree to pay in installments during the job or on completion instead?

I chose the company as they are trying to grow their business locally - they appear to have good reviews and are making partnerships with other local businesses I know. They have a fleet of their own work vehicles with their signage on them all etc. so I doubt ripping customer's off is their best interests, but I'm still nervous. I know their presence locally doesn't necessarily mean they'll do a good job on our project...

DH thinks I'm being too cautious, but we've been let down by cowboys before in one way or another and I don't want it happening again if we can help it.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

DanglyBangly Mon 25-Feb-19 16:30:57

I think it’s probably a bad idea. We’ve had two different builders - both invoiced in instalments throughout the build, with none upfront and one left for the end when all was finished and we were happy.

StrongTea Mon 25-Feb-19 16:37:04

I wouldn’t hand over any money up front.

toldmywrath Mon 25-Feb-19 16:37:49

Paying that much up front would unsettle me. I think it's reasonable to pay for the materials once they have been delivered to your address/brought in by the builder. And pay in increments for labour.
50% seems rather unusual.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Mon 25-Feb-19 16:42:05

Don't give the 50% upfront. I can understand paying in increments if you are having something major done but really 2K is not that much so they should be fine to recieve payent once the job is completed satisfactorily.

AuntieGeek Mon 25-Feb-19 16:42:14

I've been asked for that by a builder. I googled him and it turned out he was an undischarged bankrupt and his previous company went into liquidation six months previously. I was slightly livid and he didn't get my work.

It then transpired I got a quote for the same work, half the price and only 20% for itemised materials upfront.

I was less unhappy paying that. YANBU.

Jux Mon 25-Feb-19 17:04:12

We've done that sometimes when it's been a very small local firm or a so!e trader. Mind, we generally have some knowledge ofthem, like they did my friend's windows etc.

justmyview Mon 25-Feb-19 17:10:20

A contractor asked us to pay 50% up front, I was anxious about it, but we did agree and he did a great job. I wouldn't recommend it if it can be avoided. You can see their point though. They don't want to spend time and effort on your house and then you refuse to / cannot pay them

Mumlovestoast Mon 25-Feb-19 17:14:03

It depends on the work you’re having done. If you’re having a bathroom suite or boiler, if you want something specific and the builder doesn’t have an account at the merchants it comes from, he/she is going to need the money up front. If it’s made to measure doors/windows etc it’s the same. They can’t be expected to buy things and have you change your mind, leaving them out of pocket because it can’t be returned.
Only big businesses can take a gamble on buying materials customers that may or may not pay for them.
Both myself and DH work in the building trade, and we insist on payment for materials up front. I’ve never ripped anybody off. DH had a customer that left him £3000 out of pocket the week before Christmas. Made the mistake of trusting that the customers landlord would pay the bill, weeks went by with sod all. We’d had twins a few weeks before, I’m on maternity leave so my pay is crap, it was horrendous.
Can you imagine the devastation if a couple of customers do that to us? We’d lose everything.
You wouldn’t receive any other goods prior to payment, you either need to pay up front or sign up to a credit agreement.
You pay for your food before you cook it, if you don’t like it then complain, but you can’t walk out of Tesco with a trolly full of food free of charge just in case someone screwed up production of the microwave meals.
I completely agree with not paying for labour until you’re satisfied with the work. There really are some crap tradespeople out there so I always recommend word of mouth when looking for a tradesperson. If they’ve done good work for people you know, that’s better then any fake online review that their mate has done for them.

You’ve always got the option to ask him/her what they need and then go and order it yourself. Get copies of invoices, receipts and a contract outlining what you will and won’t be getting for your money and make sure there’s a warranty.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 25-Feb-19 17:19:00

Dh is a builder (joiner/carpenter by trade) and the number of people who expect builders to splash out hundreds for materials etc then refuse to pay over some minor
imaginary issue or just simply give excuse month after month to delay payment. In fact ld say builders get had over as much as customers do. So l don't blame them wanting half up front.

SlipperyLizard Mon 25-Feb-19 17:19:44

If any of it is for materials, then order and pay the supplier directly for them - then you are the legal owner in the event the tradesmen doesn’t turn up for the job.

I wouldn’t pay out more than the materials in advance (and DH is a tradesman, so I know how annoying it is when people take ages to pay!).

If they need more than the materials paying for in advance, then my suspicion would be they are using your money to complete current jobs.

MaddieElla Mon 25-Feb-19 17:20:04

You are unreasonable if this is a sole trader or the like.

If he has materials to buy then it is not unreasonable for you to pay money up front to cover this. They have usually been bitten by people not paying upon completion (and not for valid reasons) and then been out of pocket. Why should a sole trader (not normally rolling in it) fork out 2k for your materials? Him sourcing them, plus his time for doing so, protects him as much as it does you. Materials on acceptance of offer, balance on satisfactory completion. Normal round these parts.

If you've got a reputable tradesman who is booked up in advance, expect to pay deposits to pay for materials and to secure your date, because he has turned other work away to commit to you.

trickyex Mon 25-Feb-19 17:22:43

I can see both sides (seasoned house renovator) but I wouldnt pay anything upfront without a proper itemised breakdown of costs for materials.
Ask to get that and also check references before you cough up.
Can you agree to pay for materials to start rather than any labour costs?

Backwoodsgirl Mon 25-Feb-19 17:23:22

A small one man band met need money up front to purchase the required materials.

LeggyLinda Mon 25-Feb-19 17:33:42

it Depends on how/why you accepted the quote and what it actually included. You may be dealing with a small firm or sole trader; or perhaps a trader that can’t or won’t get trade credit in advance for materials for one reason or another. 50% upfront sounds a little high, but not unheard of. I suppose it’s like everything else really - price vs risk. But don’t forget there is risk to the contractor too - mumlovestoast explains that better than I ever could.
Don’t write someone off just because they want 50% upfront, but do due diligence first too. Speak to them about it - perhaps there maybe some kind of compromise available like an escrow, you buying materials directly or setting up a temporary joint signature account with local suppliers.

Missnearlyvintage Mon 25-Feb-19 19:23:56

Thanks so much for all of your replies. I’ve not come across this way of paying tradespeople before so it’s really good to hear everyone’s thoughts and experiences.

None of the other tradespeople who have quoted for this job have got that payment term on their quotes, so I don’t think it’s the local norm - though obviously any of them could request it when I accepted a quote I suppose.

I left a message for the company regarding my concerns as no one was available on the phone, so I’ll see how they respond/ if they respond and go from there. I do hope they respond, but the cynical part of me thinks they probably won’t now even if the 50% is just materials cost etc. because I’ve shown myself up to be a difficult customer by querying things...

I think I would’ve probably accepted the upfront payment had it of been itemised and for materials at least mostly, but there’s been no information like that so I’m not sure how much the materials costs will be. I doubt they will be that high as the materials needed will be quite basic skirting boards, and plastering supplies, nothing like a new bathroom or kitchen, and not for a huge area.

The quote is in the middle of the scale really compared to the others we’ve received, but I liked the look of the photos of work this company had posted on their Facebook page, and they seemed quite professional and knowledgable when they visited to quote - though I know that could all be fake/ for show.

We’ve had quite bad luck with highly recommended tradespeople being awful in the past, and have run out of recommendations from neighbours etc. for one reason or another, hence why we’ve gone for someone unknown to us. This situation comes off of the back of another tradesperson ignoring us abruptly after we waited over three months for him to start this work for us, so I think my patience is wearing a bit thin.

Thanks again, it’s so nice to come on here and get everyone’s views on things like this.

Stefoscope Mon 25-Feb-19 19:56:09

I would get a fully itemised quote of the work they're intending to do and a breakdown of the cost of materials. I wouldn't have a problem with paying a deposit/for materials up front but would want to see where the money is going.

Puzzledandpissedoff Mon 25-Feb-19 20:12:34

We have not signed a contract regarding the work or the deposit

In that case neither have they, so your 50% could become no more than a kind donation hmm

Since none of the other quotes contained this request I'd take no notice of the bait either - the reviews could easily have been written by friends and the photos could have come from anywhere

I'd want a full breakdown of costs and an agreement to pay either by instalments as the job progresses or when it's completed, but it probably won't matter anyway ... if they're trying it on and think you're onto them, you'll never hear from them again

RikGrimesIsMyFavourite Mon 25-Feb-19 20:36:13

I wouldn't do this. Builders should invoice as the work progresses and providing you're happy with it. I'd request a schedule of works with a cost breakdown at every stage.

RikGrimesIsMyFavourite Mon 25-Feb-19 20:39:43

Sorry, also just seen that you haven't signed a contract. You're in a vulnerable position here should the works not be to standard, let alone proving you paid 50% upfront. I understand people's view that builders have to fork out for material up front, but if they provide a schedule, once you've paid them for works that are complete and 'signed off', they will have cash to buy more materials to progress the works. Or you could purchase materials to start them off.
If there's a contract the risk for both sides is minimised.

Merryoldgoat Mon 25-Feb-19 20:42:13

£2000 is not a big job. Any experienced builder should have enough credit with a trade account to get the materials upfront and agree stepped payments, although for £2k I’d expect to pay in full on completion.

The builder I use usually asks for £500 ish upfront (which I assume he uses to pay the labourers for the first day demo stuff) then further payments at distinct stages.

Beeblot Mon 25-Feb-19 20:58:51

I would not pay it. We have had a lot of work done to our house, always with the same builder. He has never asked for a deposit up front. Instead, we pay him in stages, which I think is fair, and we never pay the final amount until after snagging etc.

We had a patio done at the end of 2017 and the man who did it asked for half the payment after they had done the first day or two of work, which I was okay with, and they did a great job.

roses2 Mon 25-Feb-19 21:17:11

Everytime I've paid builders a sum upfront, I have been scammed and they have done a runner. Every single one. The only exception being when I used large building firms with proper contracts for loft and kitchen extension where I was able to pay thr deposit by credit card.

I don't mind paying materials upfront but never again will I pay for labour upfront. I get paid in arrears at work, as do most people, so why should the same not apply to builders.

CurlsandCurves Mon 25-Feb-19 21:21:45

Nope. If this person is reputable they can stand to buy their materials on account and by the time the bill is due the job will be done and you’ll have paid them. It’s not like this is a job going into tens of thousands.

If they are new and starting out so cash flow and credit may be an issue, you can always pay the builders merchants for the supplies for your job direct.

I’d be very suspicious of a 2 grand job requiring a grand upfront.

PersonaNonGarter Mon 25-Feb-19 21:23:15

I am a construction lawyer.

Do not pay for any works in advance. Don’t do it. No. It is not standard. It is a thing builders say to suckers, sorry.

Why would you? Builders merchants run lines of credit. If your builder needs materials and tools, he should be sufficiently financially robust to get them.

If you really need to help out a mate, you could buy the materials and have them delivered to you. Then he is only risking his time.

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