local-tradesmenA new en-suite bathroom can look great and add value to your property – but how much is the extension going to set you back?

When faced with the price tag of a big renovation or running repairs, it’s only natural to feel the pressure to bring down costs. But while a rational assessment of costs is sensible, cutting corners is not. Hiring certified tradesmen is vital, not only to ensure the job is done properly, but to avoid unforeseen costs and dangers that can negate any value gained through a quick, cheap job.

Health and safety

Roofer George Nicholls was in the news recently after being fined £4,000 for attempting to work from a ladder balanced on top of his van. Situations like this should be firmly at the top of the list of those you want to avoid.

Whoever contracts the tradesmen and is acting as site supervisor is liable to pay fines to the Health & Safety Executive for breaches. In this instance, contractors Maintenance 24-7 Ltd, who hired Nicholls for the job, were slammed with an additional £10,000 fine and £784 in costs. This kind of money makes a mockery of any saving to be made from hiring cowboy builders.

Worse still is the risk of injury. Poor working practises like this don’t only endanger the man at the top of the ladder. If he were to fall, or drop tools, passers-by risk injury too. And if anyone is injured on your property, the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, S2 enables any visitors to your home to sue you if you are deemed to have compromised their safety. These are, quite simply, risks not worth taking. So ensure that, whoever you hire, they have sufficient insurance.

Fair pricing

new gas boiler costThere’s nothing more galling than choosing the ‘cheap option’, only to find it steadily mounts up with ‘unexpected’ costs. It’s annoying when airlines do it, it’s annoying when hotels do it, and it’s an absolute killer with big home improvement jobs.

Cowboy builders will enter a low quote just to undercut the market, and if costs mount up when a job starts, they won’t think twice before adding extras to the bill; or worse, just leaving the job unfinished, like one crook did with dozens of jobs in Kent. There are, however, ways to ensure you avoid rogue traders and scams.

The reason for getting multiple quotes isn’t simply to compare the figures, it’s to assess whether you really are dealing with professional tradesmen who have a clear, honest overview of what a job involves, and price it accordingly. Use this opportunity to ask for a breakdown of costs and whether they see any potential for nasty surprises. And never pay the full cost up front.

Quality of work

Fortunately, incidents like those in Kent are rare. Unfortunately, it’s far more common for unskilled, uncertified tradesmen to botch a job, lumbering homeowners with more work to be done over the months and years ahead.

study by TrustMark found that in the 12 months to April 2014, incompetent tradesmen cost UK households £1.9bn: that’s five times more than the cost of burglaries during the same period. And that’s why it’s important to ensure tradesmen are certified and skilled before they are commissioned.

Simple rules for hiring a tradesperson include checking their credentials, comparing their ratings on sites like ServiceMagic, reading and signing an official contract for the work, and satisfying yourself that they have the expertise to get the job done.

Reliable contacts

The last, but by no means least, valuable reason you need to hire a pro is because getting those questions and quotes right once means more than a job well done: it means you have someone you can trust when you need more work completed in the future. That cuts a lot of time, money and stress from home improvement work, leaving you free to enjoy your new space and watch your investment flourish.

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