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What do I need to ask the builders?

(9 Posts)
emsiewill Fri 09-May-03 22:22:16

We're planning on having some work done on our house - namely
- Change the downstairs bathroom into a utility room; remove the shower and put the washing machine in there. Redecorate and new flooring.
- Put in a new bathroom upstairs (one there already, "just" a new suite, shower and redecoration/flooring needed)
- Redecorate the lounge, sort out the damp and put in a fireplace.

We're getting people round to give us quotes, but what are the crucial questions I need to ask?

I have thought of a few things - get it all in writing (been stung before), ask when they work (times/days), what do they do about access when we're not here? (most of the time), but I'm sure there's more that I should be thinking of. As always, I'm sure there's others here who've been through this sort of thing and have plenty of good advice/opinions to give. So give them, please!
Many thanks in advance

crystaltips Fri 09-May-03 22:32:17

I have learnt this ..... the hard way.

Have a phased project ( ie: Cut it up into pieces ) and actually you have probably done that in you initial message.
THEN say that you will pay them in installments.
Rather than pay up front OR all at the end .. pay in about 3/4 chunks.
That way you can be sure that some/all ( if you are lucky ) of the tasks will be done ... you think I am joking - our builders just left one day and never returned ( after we'd paid up front )

1 ) Check that they are a member of a recognised Trade assoc. ( and that they can prove this - check applicable website )
2 ) Make sure that you have samples of the "flooring" etc that they are proposing to use.
3 ) Ask for references from previous clients
4 ) Never pay up front


RockingRosebud Fri 09-May-03 22:32:48

Check and ask to see their Employer's Liability insurance certificate. Hypothetically if they caused a major problem whilst they were there they would be covered. A lot of builders still don't have it.

You could ask for the number of a recent happy customer?

griffy Fri 09-May-03 22:34:07

1) Get reputable firms to quote. Check their membership of trade bodies and their insurance.

2)Make sure that you get a 'quote', not an 'estimate'. (An estimate can be exceeded - a quote can't)

3) Ask for and check previous customers' references.

4) Do not buy cheap - you get what you pay for.

5) Agree and specify EVERYTHING - ideally in writing; Which materials to use; start and end dates for the work; what hours will be acceptable to you/neighbours; whether weekend or evening working will be allowed to 'catch up' if job runs late; when and how payments will be made etc.

5) Do not pay cash. With work of this size, you want everything above board, and able to claim on their insurance if they cock it up.

6) Do not pay up front. Hold back at least 33% until completion and sign-off of all work.

Good luck!

griffy Fri 09-May-03 22:34:58

Oo er... crossed with others so very repetitive. Sorry about that!

crystaltips Fri 09-May-03 22:36:50

Well at least we are all saying the same thing .... Any problems just call my brother ... His name is BOB - the Builder !!!

griffy Fri 09-May-03 22:56:21

Emsiewill - where are you? If you're in N. London, my DP is the best decorator in town, and will sort out you living room, by the way. He's got a website. Would mentioning it be advertising? Hope not - it's at:

SofiaAmes Fri 09-May-03 23:07:17

Make a list of everything that needs doing and ask the builders to quote on that so that you are not comparing apples and oranges. Also, ask them to check through your list and let you know if you have left out any essential items. (good way to see if they are honest and if they know their stuff). Find out how/when they expect to get paid.
Don't tell them what anyone else has quoted and don't tell them what your budget is.

emsiewill Fri 09-May-03 23:26:45

Thanks all for this - exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for. It's just so hard to be "strict" with people, though - they all seem to be so busy (have to wait a week just for a quote) that you feel grateful that they'll deign to do your job.
I'm in S. Wales, griffy, so no good for your dh (unless he's willing to travel - we have a spare room! ). But if anyone knows and can recommend (or warn us against) anyone in this area, I'd be grateful.

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