How to Tell a Craftsman from a Cowboy
We’ve all been there, your home needs some TLC and the job is a little bit too big for you to handle. So you decide to call in the builders. The trouble is there are a lot of them out there and some are not all they’re cracked up to be. The wrong choice can be costly and could mean your house topping the billing on Channel 5’s Cowboy Builders. And then there’s the problem of finding a new, reputable builder to sort out the mess the first one left behind. It can soon turn into one long nightmare.
So how do you go about sorting the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad, the cowboys from the craftsmen? Recommendations are useful but not always forthcoming, especially if you’re new to an area. So we’ve put together a list of tips to help you navigate the minefield, many from our own customer base who know a thing or two about quality building work.
• Ask people you know.
Ask friends, family members, neighbours, work colleagues, in your local pub, anywhere you think someone might be able to give you a recommendation. If someone near where you live has had building work done recently, knock on their door and see if the builder they used was good.
• Always seek more than one quote.
By contacting three of four builders you will get a feel for who is and isn’t trustworthy. It allows you to compare the work required and prices, and decide who is offering the best value.
• Ask for references.
If a builder doesn’t come to you through personal recommendation ask for references. Any reputable builder should have a long list of satisfied customers who will should be happy to discuss their work. As with quotes, always ring more than one referee – they might have given you the number of a relative or friend.
Ones to look out for are the TrustMark, the Trading Standards Institute Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (look for the TSI logo) and the Trading Standards Buy with Confidence Scheme. Also look out for members of trade associations which have codes of practice and schemes to help resolve any problems.
• Check insurances.
Having the correct insurances is a sign of reputable contractor. Ask to see the policies and check they don’t run out before the job is likely to end. Required insurances include Public Liability and Employers’ Liability and if they refuse to let you see the policy, it is possibly they don’t have it in place.
• Get a written contract.
Once you’ve decided which builder to go with get down in writing what it is they are going to do. This means that if the builder doesn’t do what is agreed, it will help in getting what you paid for or getting some of your money back. Be very wary of a builder refuses to write anything down.
• Expect to deal with some problems.
Very few jobs run 100% smoothly no matter how good your builder is, so be prepared to deal with some hiccups along the way. But make sure you have all the builder’s contact details and let him or her know immediately that you are unhappy about something. Then get down in writing how they are going to put it right.
We hope our tips our useful to you but if you need any further information why not drop into your local MKM branch and speak to one of our staff.