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Builders starting tomorrow - any tips to keep them sweet?

(17 Posts)
Loueytb3 Mon 10-Dec-12 18:46:39

Finally work is starting on our extension tomorrow (orangery) smile

The builders will be outside for a few weeks and won't be causing havoc inside the house until the New Year and it may be a different team who do the work inside. We won't be there for much of the week as we both work and I don't know what the etiquette is regarding tea/coffee/biscuits.

The head builder was there for a few hrs this afternoon and was v grateful for a coffee but tomorrow there will be no-one there to dish out drinks. They have a portaloo now so that won't be an issue.

Any tips???

wigwam33 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:13:04

My advice is to supply them with a kettle, tea/coffee, milk and a packet of chocolate hob nobs! It can't do any harm and I'm sure they'll be grateful for the thought! If there is no electricity, do you have a camping stove or similar with a kettle that you could lend to them so that they can make drinks themselves? Or simply an extension lead for an electric kettle?
Should keep them happy. If they're established, experienced builders they probably will have it sorted anyway.

Otherwise, my main advice is to pick your battles. I've done two major building projects and both the builders I have employed have had strong opinions about what should / shouldn't be done. Pick where you're willing to go with their ideas and where you really need to put your foot down! Also, thank them and appreciate what they've done as they go along. I think builders often get a lot of flack and little thanks, and it might help to keep them motivated.

EMS23 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:21:01

Bring home tasty treats to leave for them, for the next day. Boxes of celebrations, mini rolls etc normally go down well.

During the week before Xmas, give the foreman some cash "for the boys to have a Christmas drink". Try to make sure they all hear you doing that. I'd suggest approx £10 per head but depends on your budget I guess.

Can you provide somewhere warm and comfy for them to have lunch and breaks. If not in the house, then perhaps put table and chairs in your garage and let them know they can use that?

Good luck for the work!

betterwhenthesunshines Mon 10-Dec-12 19:22:36

Give and take. Pick your battles as wigwam suggests. Be open to their views and willing to listen but also know when to stand your ground. Br friendly, but not too friendly - keep it professional but not chummy otherwise it will feel awkward when you have to have difficult conversations. Keep yourself 'approachable' ie it's better if they feel they can give you a quick call to check something rather than avoid having to ask you in case you 'go off on one'.

And yes would second some appreciation as the job goes along.

Depending on how much detail you have in your spec / contract, and whether you have a contract administrator checking on your behalf.... check everything at each stage and don't be afraid to ask questions.

TheReturnOfBridezilla Mon 10-Dec-12 19:26:40

I married mine. grin

DH says so long as you feed them, they'll be happy.

Nancy66 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:46:24

find out their tipple and give them a bottle of whiskey each or a crate of beer just before Xmas. Should keep 'em sweet for a while.

staverton Mon 10-Dec-12 19:54:28

I would say keep it professional. I took mine cafetiere coffee when there was no kettle, home made cakes and was v nice. In the end they really really mucked me about. I think they saw us as a walkover compared to the shirty subsequent client, so they finished hers over ours leaving us homeless for weeks, months behind schedule and generally did other awful things (lies about what they'd done, and much more)
Have a contract in writing and don't pay too much upfront as you will have no leverage.

ISeeSmallPeople Mon 10-Dec-12 21:48:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PigletJohn Mon 10-Dec-12 22:13:29

don't be their servant. They will not respect you and will take advantage. Give them a mug of tea, and tell them to bring the mug back. Don't keep giving them extra mugs or your site will be littered with dirty and broken mugs.

Don't let them use your hoover, it will be ruined. If they ask to borrow your broom or dustpan and brush, or shovel, or extension lead, or any tools, ask, surprised "haven't you got one?"

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Dec-12 22:19:16

yy re mugs and giving them kettle to look after themselves (and also old tea spoons you don't mind getting manky). And regular hobnobs etc. I generally used to make them one on the morning if I was making one for myself, but otherwise left them to it.

And I've never done it, but £ for Xmas drinks sounds like an inspired idea.

JingleBel Mon 10-Dec-12 22:26:31

Communicate regularly but don't get in their way
Remember you can say no to them or question stuff but get
Any changes to contracted work in writing.
Listen to their advice.
Praise them as they progress.

jollydiane Mon 10-Dec-12 22:39:39

Here are my tips.

Treat it as a business. Treat the builders with respect but be professional (as you would in any other job). Yes I would leave tea, coffee, box of biscuits and I would be friendly but at all times be professional.

I shared my written list of requirements, and I have gone into extreme detail, if you didn't specify it then you have to expect to pay for it. Don't assume anything, or assume that it will be done as a 'favour'.

Remember that you will be paying 20% VAT.

Everything should be done in writing so there is no confusion about what you agreed.

Agee a payment plan so you everyone knows what is expected before the next payment.

Check the site daily so there if there is anything that is not going to plan it can be discussed immediately. I have had very little snagging issues as they were sorted out on a daily basis. Keep a notebook with a list of your budget and any issues that you come up against so that you don't forget anything.

Meet the foreman once a week to discuss progress and expectations.

Before the final bill is paid, make sure that you have all the building regulations (completion certs and for electrical work you have the Part P paperwork etc).

Take photos before and after and also keep a 'mood board', to remind you of what you are hoping to achieve and it will help to keep some perspective (you might have days when everything seems overwhelming).

If you have a budget consider what will happen if you have to go over it. Even with my control freak planning I still went over budget for items that I have no control over.

Also if it might impact your neighbours go and speak to them first and explain what is going on. Listen to any concerns that they have.

Good luck.

kilmuir Mon 10-Dec-12 22:45:28

Pray you don't have to much frost

Loueytb3 Mon 10-Dec-12 22:54:37

Great tips - thank you.

Yes we are praying we don't have any frost, at least until the foundations are in. Its supposed to be very cold tonight.

There is a power socket outside so I could get a cheapie kettle and tea/coffee etc so they can help themselves. Will get some chocs or biscuits tomorrow.

They can't have access to the garage as its alarmed with the house and they've just dismantled the shed so they will just have to retreat to a cafe or their vans.

Neighbours already aware as we didn't want them to have a nasty (and noisy) surprise.

We have staged payments (whole thing is costing just short of £80k blush) and a detailed contract. There is a project manager who seems ok.

I'm a mixture of excited and nervous now we are actually starting. We had to appeal a planning decision so it's been a long haul to get to this point.

GrendelsMum Mon 10-Dec-12 23:15:13

Well, do you really want to keep them sweet? I think JollyDiane is right - you want to keep them professional.

In my experience, that means stopping any potential issues straight away, while theyre little niggles, and before they become real irritations. Even something as small as where used mugs are put at the end of the day does need to be made clear.

kilmuir Mon 10-Dec-12 23:45:32

Hope it all goes well.
Great advice to keep it professional. we had some work done a few years ago, I was too generous with drinks etc and got awkward when time keeping and quality of work not up to scratch

CaHoHoHootz Tue 11-Dec-12 00:25:50

Keep it professional
Pay on time
Compliment them a lot (their work that is)
Don't keep changing your mind
Make desicions quickly
Be available/contactable
Have a very clear method of finalising decisions, for example very regular
emails confirming changes or additions.
Ask their advice (they often know best)
Let them know if there is a problem quickly and clearly
Make sure you and DP/H are saying the same thing

Also, (as already mentioned) take lots and lots and lots of photos. (pipework, wiring, where stud work is. Etc etc)
However many electrical sockets you have it will never be enough......hmm
Dust sheet everything and put away everything possible....the dust gets everywhere. sad

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