Hiring a trader to work in your home
There may be times when you’ll require work to be carried out in your home, this could be repairs to your boiler or roof, repairing or installing gas and electrical appliances or building and renovation work. Due to the high costs that are usually involved in these types of works its important that you know how to find the right trader for the job.
Before hiring a trader to carry out work on your property it’s important to firstly check whether you will need any planning permission or approval from building regulations, this is usually required for major renovations or building work, but it may also be required for smaller jobs, for example replacing windows. You may have to pay a fee as part of your application especially if building control are required to inspect the work once it’s been completed. If you hire a trader who is a member of a competent person scheme, then they will usually make any applications on your behalf and can self-certify their work without an inspection from building control, but you should always confirm this with the trader.
If you don’t get the appropriate permissions to have work carried out to your property then you could receive a fine, you could be asked to undo the work, or you could be prosecuted.
Choosing a trader
When deciding which trader to use you want someone who is has the qualifications and experience to be able to complete the job safely and to a good standard. You should try asking around for recommendations of traders or ask traders to provide you with references from previous customers, along with contact details so that you can contact these customers directly to check that the reference is genuine. If the trader claims to be a member of a particular trade association then you should contact the association to check that this is correct. You also want to shop around and get quotes from different traders so that you get the best price possible, you should be wary though of any quotes that are significantly lower than others as this could indicate that the trader doesn’t have the correct experience or qualifications to do a good job. You should ask the trader to show you proof of their qualifications.
If the job includes working with electrics or gas, then the trader is also required to be registered with a government approved scheme. You can search for a registered trader on:
You can also use the following websites to search for traders that are Trading Standards approved.
The trader must have Employers liability insurance (unless they’re a sole trader) which covers them in case they’re injured on the job, it’s also a good idea to make sure that they have Public liability insurance which will cover a member of the public being injured and any damage to you or a neighbour’s property. You can also check whether your home insurance will cover any damage caused by the trader.
You should be wary of traders that turn up at your door uninvited offering to do work especially if they claim that the property requires repairs that you weren’t aware of or if they try to push you to having the work done straight away as you may not need the work carried out at all or they may not have the correct experience or qualifications to do the work to a good standard.
Always ask the trader for a written quote rather than an estimate. Estimates are rough idea of what the work will cost whereas a quote is a fixed price and unless you ask for or agree that the trader will carry out additional work or they have made a genuine error in calculating the price then they can’t charge you more than what was originally quoted.
A quote should always state:
- The fixed price total
- How long the price is valid for
- A breakdown of the work to be carried out and the individual costs
- How long the work will take to complete
- Whether the price includes VAT
Once you’ve decided to accept the traders quote you should ensure that you receive a written contract, this will be useful in helping to get your money back if the trader doesn’t do what you’ve agreed. You should read the contract before signing it to ensure that the information is correct, it should include
- Breakdown of work to be carried out
- Date that the work will start and finish
- Total fixed price
- How and when you will make payments
It’s best to make payments by credit or debit card as they offer additional protection if something goes wrong and to pay in instalments with the final payment made once the work has been completed and you are happy with it.