If you find yourself in the midst of home improvements and needing some professional help to get the job done, then it can be a worrying time. You’re inviting people you don’t know into your home, hoping that they are going to do the work to a standard you find acceptable. It can be tough to know who to trust when it comes to hiring tradespeople; it can also be awkward when you have hired them and work begins. So here’s a few ideas to make the process as streamlined as possible.
1) Google everything you can about the company. You’d be surprised how many people don’t check a company out online before hiring them.
2) Know exactly what you want. One of the worst ways of hiring in a tradesperson is being unsure of the work you need doing. Make sure you have a clear idea in your mind.
3) Know the numbers. Whenever you invite someone to quote, always ensure that you have a rough idea of the budget you have in mind…
4) … But don’t tell them! If you are asked for a budget, then just shrug and say that you’re open to offers.
5) Check local records. If someone has been called to the attention of local authorities for bad workmanship, there may be a record at a local authority. You need to speak to anyone involved in trading standards.
6) Check local courts. If it’s a big job involving a lot of money, then go the extra mile and call the local court also. They will have any record of prosecutions or civil cases that may have resulted in the past.
7) Give them space. It can be tempting when someone is working in your home to stand over them, checking what they are doing. It’s tempting, but it’s also a bad idea. Not only does it foster a sense of unease, but you might distract them from something important.
8) Get at least three quotes, but five is better.
9) Never commit to anything immediately. If someone gives a quote you’re happy with, don’t commit to it on the spot. Give yourself at least 24 hours to do the relevant research before you agree.
10) Write everything down. Even for a basic job, get everything written down and signed by both parties. There’s far less room for confusion if this happens.
11) Request multiple contact details. Any reputable company will have at least one phone number and an email address. Ask for these at least; you want to know you can contact them if something goes wrong.
12) Go local. This is especially important for someone you might need to call in an emergency, such as a plumber or electrician. The sooner they can get to you if you have a problem with the project, the better.
13) Don’t hand over money upfront. If you are asked for money “for supplies”, then insist on accompanying them to the store.
14) Only pay for work that has been done. There is no need to make advance payments, especially for small home-based projects.
15) Be polite. If things are not progressing as you expect, it’s still better to be polite and courteous. This ups your chances of a satisfactory result.
16) Get quotes, not estimates. A quote is an official record, preferably on paper, of what something will cost. An estimate is far vaguer and can be subject to increases without your knowledge.
17) Ask for references. Try and obtain at least one reference from previous work they have completed.
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