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Help! I'm scared about getting work done

(16 Posts)
Jujuheyhey Tue 29-Mar-16 12:25:38

I've been wanting to knock through my kitchen and dining room for years and get a new lovely big kitchen-diner so I can spend time with DD when I get in from work rather than being in separate rooms. I've finally got some money (a windfall) and my budget is going to be £9k max, which needs to include everything - all building work, plastering, fitting new kitchen inc ideally new appliances, flooring, decorating etc.

I'm really worried this won't be enough but it's all I've got, and I'm sure compromises will have to be made along the way. Anyway I've been recommended a few builders to try who can do the whole job, and left messages for them all.

What I'm scared about is it being a nightmare, being ripped off etc. I'm a single mum and never had to arrange or manage anything this big before. Although I want this to happen very badly I'm dreading it.

So, what should I look out for to avoid 'Cowboys'? And what important things do I need to ask about or check before I go with anyone? Should I disclose my budget before they quote? Any tips gratefully received!!

redhat Tue 29-Mar-16 12:27:15

Get three or four quotes and explain your budget. Ask what they can do for that amount.

When you have the quotes take up their references and speak to the people they have put forward

Calaisienne Tue 29-Mar-16 12:43:24

Also see if there is a trade group for the work you want done ( national association of kitchen fitters perhaps - google will know) and see if they are registered. Also look on yellow pages on line the Yellow pages tells you how long the company has had an account - I'd be much happier employing someone who I know has been in business for 10 or 15 years rather than 6 months. Always keep about 10% of your budget as a contingency - so tell them your budget is £8K for everything you will then have a little in hand for unexpected extras.

Obviously do as much as you can yourself e.g. I have painted walls, ceilings and put up wall tiles and laid flooring tiles myself as a single lady. Laying lino is quite simple too - but you do need a friend as it is really unwieldy. You tube is great for how to do stuff videos.

Jujuheyhey Tue 29-Mar-16 14:52:49

Thanks! Good idea about the contingency. I'm ok at doing stuff like painting and stripping wallpaper but not sure I could tile or lay flooring!

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Tue 29-Mar-16 15:16:56

Have you tried asking your friends or your DC's friends' parents for recommendations? I find local FB groups (including the school parents' FB page) really useful for that kind of thing. Also my hairdresser! She always knows who's done what building work recently and who's pleased or pissed off!

Def keep back contingency, and also decide in advance what you can do yourself. Tiling - depends on the area and the type of tile. E.g. A small splashback that you can do with tiles in backing sheets with minimal cutting is easy (I cheated and went for mosaics on a backing sheet for a bathroom, precisely because they're so small I didn't have much tile-cutting to do at all). A floor, needing levelling and awkward shapes/patterns, not so.

Agree upfront what work will be done by what deadline and what instalments you'll pay (e.g. You'll pay £1k when X is done, which they expect to be by the end of the first week, not £1k per week because they expect it to take eight weeks, or whatever - you don't want to have paid out 90% cash with only 10% of the job done).

Also check whether building control needs to be involved (almost certainly) - speak to the council first, then check with the builders what building regs they think need to be adhered to, and ask how they'll comply. Decent builders will tell you, plus give you a cost for building regs if they don't include it in their fee (depends on the authority, think I paid around £100 for the last building regs inspection/certificate we had done). Cowboy builders will tell you you don't need to comply with building regs even if you do. If you're knocking through, there's a strong chance it'll be a structural wall and you'll need a steel inserted, in which case you will def need building regs sign off. If it's just a stud partition wall, then you prob won't.

The other thing is plan every detail in advance if possible - eg exactly where you want every new socket, appliance, drainage, pipe, radiator etc. It'll be more expensive if new sockets have to be added later or things need moving because you weren't prepared.

Good luck, you'll be fine!

LizzieMacQueen Tue 29-Mar-16 16:51:22

Can you re-use any of your existing kitchen?

Look online for ex-display if it has to be new.

I think with that budget you'll be really unlikely to get all you want, will you need a steel support if you're knocking through? They cost in the thousands. (my source is all those property programmes on Ch 4).

traceyed1 Tue 29-Mar-16 17:51:12

i am in your position getting some work done and we are having a wall knocked down between the kitchen and dining room. it already has a door way through it and its only about 2m wide. we have had 3 builders out 2 said not load bearing and one said possibly? and has included £200 in quote for steel if needed!

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Tue 29-Mar-16 19:25:06

The C4 programmes usually show people ordering absolutely massive oversize show-off steels which need craning in over the rooftops, generally after ripping out hedgerows in the tiny rural lanes the artic has just had to force its way through... And those steels are often meant to be on show so more expensive due to appearance.

For an average 3-4m room, where the steel's going to be covered up, I,d have thought a couple of hundred. Depends on the load it needs to bear, so the height/width dimensions as well as length (and it may need to go into the wall either side, ie actually longer than the width of the room).

Here's a random website to give approx costings; you can get them from builders' merchants such as Travis Perkins too (but make sure you borrow a trade card to do so, even then they're overpriced - having said that it's worth haggling a bit, last time I needed stuff both my builder -with trade card - and I rang up for quotes and I managed to beat them down to a lower price. Think he just wanted to get me off the phone grin).

I generally try to source materials, especially because it reduces turnover for the builder, which may help keep them under VAT threshold, but also because I then get exactly what I want at the price I want. Many places will sell at trade price on presentation of the builder's card but with the customer paying so for smaller bits and pieces it's worth borrowing the card and going to Screwfix or wickes or wherever yourself. Also worth hunting out the reasonably priced builders' merchants rather than the big sheds; we've got one near us I've used for years which are about £8 cheaper per jumbo bag of sharp sand than Wickes/B&Q with discount - and they do free local delivery. When you use up 10 jumbo bags on a project, that's a saving worth having, especially if the builders can't be bothered and just go to the nearest overpriced DIY shed - if they're passing on the materials costs directly, they don't care about getting you a good price. Again, something to ask prospective builders about - where and how could they source materials to get you the best deal, and is there anything you could do to cut costs on that aspect without compromising quality?

This is a very simple and brief guide but may be helpful:

Jujuheyhey Tue 29-Mar-16 19:59:28

Thanks again everyone! I've already had a structural engineer (mate's BF) take a quick look and tell me where the RSJ can go, said it should be about £250. I'm hoping to keep the cost down by using some of the units again but the doors will all need replacing because they are vile.

Good idea to ask about how to keep materials costs down and stagger payments.

I rang 4 builders today all recommended off a local Facebook group, only one has rung me back and is coming to look later this week and give me a quote. Feeling more positive now! smile

ccridersuz Thu 31-Mar-16 23:39:10

Whatever you do check previous work and don't pay too much up front.
A lot of builders merchants have notice boards where tradesmen advertise.
Ask your locals if you have seen workmen at a property in the past. Maybe a neighbour has had a conservatory built or a new loft extension?. Don't be afraid to ask. Most would be glad at a chance to show off there new feature.

LoopyLily Thu 31-Mar-16 23:51:42

Definitely get a few quotes, try to google there business names also check if they are ok checkatrade as you can read reviews, never had over to much money, get your quotes in writing.

BackforGood Fri 01-Apr-16 00:27:13

I would certainly ask around people you know if they have any personal recommendations - the trouble with local FB groups is anyone can recommend their mate / partner /themselves, and if you don't know them, you are still none the wiser.
another option is to walk around your local area and see where building work is being / has been done, and go and knock the door and say you are looking for a builder and ask if they would recommend the people that did their work.

IME, the best firms / tradespeople usually have a waiting list of jobs - don't be swayed by someone saying they could start next week, as I would be wondering why they hadn't got any work on.

OnGoldenPond Fri 01-Apr-16 01:14:09

Make sure you ask for details of the builders insurance policy before you let them set foot in your house. Then google the insurer and ring them to confirm the policy is in place. Check the expiry date of the policy and, if it is up for renewal before work is completed, check that the policy is renewed.

I speak from experience on this one sad

MiaowTheCat Fri 01-Apr-16 07:40:18

Might help you but we've just had similar done - wall out, steel in, kitchen totally redone with new appliances etc.

Pushed the boat out with quite pricey flooring, went for fairly decent integrated appliances and units with loads of storage bits in which whacks the price up a lot from basic shelves (we've got pull out larders, integrated bin/recycling bins, corner carousel units etc) plus an American fridge freezer with ice and water plumbed in to give you some idea. We reused radiators that were on the wall that was knocked down - fitted one into the kitchen on a different wall and one onto the conservatory - there was a lot of plumbing work involved in moving the pipework for those.

Cost includes some odd bits like wiring up and plastering our conservatory too from a previous job and the fact the builder went on forever as he knacked his back and legs halfway through and our builder's pricey anyway (but absolutely meticulous in his work and our neighbour which is why we went with him).

Came in at just over £15k for the whole load of the work. Could have easily knocked the cost of some of the units down, the flooring and the appliances - indeed if I hadn't wanted intergrated we could have used our old ones but my mum (who was paying) wanted me to have the whole dream kitchen thing rather than just making do and kept whacking the costs back up! I also have things like USB charging ports in the kitchen worktop sockets to stop having phone chargers hogging half the plugs which again put costs up somewhat.

Budget for (or hide yours) a new hoover at the end of it though - the bloody dust has killed two of ours!

We were very lucky in that our next door neighbour is a builder and if he can't do a job he knows someone in the right trade who is a decent one - because the idea of finding workmen and the fear of cowboys always bloody terrified me.

galah49 Wed 20-Apr-16 08:50:31

Miaow, can I just check when you say the whole load of work came in at £15k, was that all the labour and all the units, appliances etc or just the labour?

We are in the process of getting quotes to knock through to dining room, but are also completely gutting the kitchen , render off walls to internally insulate, digging up concrete floor to insulate and relay, moving back door, moving location of sink, cooker etc, so lots of replumbing and moving gas supply. The quote for building labour/materials (including all plumbing and electrics) is coming in at £17k shock. We then have the cost of the new units, appliances and worktops on top. Does that sound excessive?

OnGoldenPond - what happened on the insurance front?? Please tell....

amarmai Wed 20-Apr-16 14:27:30

IME as a single mum, i was massively ripped off by tradesmen. It started me on my DIY career. Saved $1000s and found it massively satisfying. Never tried a huge job like yours tho. If you buy your kitchen units from Ikea they have a list of recommended fitters . Also Home hardware and other handy man stores have that too.Better Business Bureau deals with complaints re all sorts , not sure if in UK.

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