Specialists Feature - August 2019

44 · Friday 23rd August 2019

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Preparing for winter - now is the time to call in the checked out trade specialists for jobs around the home and garden

Porches • Renovations Brickwork • Guttering • Repointing • Replacement windows • Roofing FREE ESTIMATES

TELEPHONE: 023 8061 0594 info@bunneybuilders.co.uk | www.bunneybuilders.co.uk

IT may be the middle of summer now but now is the time to prepare your home for winter. It’s so easy to forget about the many jobs that need to be done until the first frosts hit you with a big surprise. There are usually numerous jobs around the house which need doing. Checking the boiler works prop- erly, insulating pipes, clearing leafs and debris from the gutters, check- ing the roof, good insulation in the rooms and a whole host of other jobs need doing before you are caught out. You may also think that now is the time for those bigger jobs around the home which need the expertise of specialist skills. For those planning home improvements, the key question will be where you can find a reli- able tradesperson. Some 45,000 people called the Citizens Advice last year seeking help with their home improvement and maintenance problems, and the Federation of Master Builders estimates cowboy contractors cost the UK economy £10bn a year. New Forest Council has issued guidelines for using trades people

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE IMPORTANT

who you can trust. One of the first steps if it’s a major job is to ensure you get planning permission if you need it. Even if you don’t, you may need to contact Building Control. Hants County Council also has a 64 page Buy with Confidence Directory listing traders who have been checked and approved by trading standards officers. PLAN AHEAD WITH A LIST OF WHAT YOU WANT As with most tasks, a bit of for- ward planning is really important. Make a list of the work you want to have done. Obtain at least three written quotes from differ- ent builders (you will also need quotes if any agreed extra work is to be carried out) and once you have made your choice, make sure you talk to them about what you expect. Ensure you get a written con- tract to cover the work for exam- ple from the Federation of Master Builders building contract for home-owners or occupiers. This covers standard contract details. Have written agreements for any extra work and check you have enough insurance cover before work starts. Don’t forget to pack away valu- ables and anything that may get dirty during the work and while it may sound obvious allow access

to your property so the builder can carry out the work. TELL YOUR NEIGHBOURS Do not pay the builder up front – staged payments are more usual. Tell your neighbours about the work you are planning and how long you think builders will be on-site. If work affects a wall you share with your neighbour (party wall), you must get their permis- sion before starting work. You should tell the builder immediately if you are not satisfied with the standard of work. Choose builders and specialists contractors who belong to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme or are on the Gas Safe Register or NICEIC approved. If a builder claims to be a member of a trade association, make sure you check it out. You should be com- fortable in asking tradesmen to prove these credentials - usually in the form of a certificate, an ID card or similar. Use builders that family or friends recommend. Try to visit three or four or the builders recently completed jobs and speak to the occupiers about the work. If your builder is prepared to travel a long way to carry out the work you may want to ask yourself why they cannot get work on their own area. Remember, good quality build- ers have nothing to hide and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. If it’s a large project or a major piece of building work, you will need to make sure that you consider employing a profes- sional to advise you such as an architect or a chartered surveyor. CHECK OUT THEIR QUALIFICA- TIONS Property owners should be comfortable in asking tradesmen to prove their credentials - usually in the form of a certificate, an ID card or similar. From a tradesmen perspective it is an essential crite- ria that you should demand from anyone working in your home has public liability cover. This insures against bodily inju- ries arising from works carried out in your own home and ensures that the contractor can pay any claims associated with it. Without it you may have some liability in

this area if things go wrong. For this reason it is the minimum cover that you should demand from anyone working in your home. All insured tradesmen will hold a valid certificate of insurance which you should ask for a copy for your records. IF THE QUOTE SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE If the quote sounds too good to be true then it probably is. When it comes to pricing a job there are a number of criteria that need to be considered - the job type, the details provided by the property owner and specific environmental factors relating to the job site. However, given the same set of details being made available to all tradesmen should return broadly similar pricing for the job although there may be differences between urban and rural areas. When comparing prices make sure you are checking like-for- like. Does each quote include VAT and materials? On the latter make sure that all materials are to the required quality and have a defined warranty period. For larger jobs it may be advisable to hire a quantity surveyor to ensure you are being quoted the correct quantities and are not effectively paying to stock the tradesman for his next job! You may be tempted by a lowest price. This is fine as long as all the above criteria stack up. If you can’t get the transparency and guaran- tees that you need, move on to the next quote. If a tradesman cannot provide a reference - a past client you can phone or call into and whose task matches the profile of your proj- ect, then move on to another who can. For larger projects you might want to get additional comfort from validating the contact details of your tradesman before you hire them. A quick check of their letterhead should provide a company regis- tration number or a business reg- istration number if a sole trader and a VAT registration number where applicable. All small details, but something that will ensure that they are contactable if things should go wrong.

White & Sons

People buy from people and, much like a date, the first impres- sion is often the lasting on. The same applies for the hiring process for tradesmen. A surly type could be an excel- lent craftsman and similarly, cow- boys can arrive at your door with an outgoing personality and a sense of humour. While a warm personality is a bonus, it’s also important to hold them to certain standards during the hiring process. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring on personality only. Did they come back to you when they said they would? Are they always presentable and pro- fessional in their approach? An engagement that starts off on the wrong footing, is unlikely to correct itself as the project progresses. After going through all of the above, it is reasonable to expect that the tradesman who will be working on the job is the one you have built up a rapport with and the one you expect to do the work. In reality however, this might not be the case. This is not neces- sarily an issue as the front man for a company may be overly qualified to lay bricks, but you should get an indication of this beforehand. Watch out for those who sub contract to another individual after getting the job. While that individ- ual may be qualified, they’re not the person you hired. Ask who will be carrying out the work and make sure you have their credentials. Most importantly, get the details of the person who will be supervising it. If the company is planning to sub-contract some of the works out, then get the details of the sub-contractors as well. While a contract is not necessary for smaller jobs, it is something that should be put in place for any mid-to-large sized project. It is a written agreement between both parties that clearly details the spe- cific deliverables, the materials to be used, the costs, payment struc- tures and warranty period among other critical information. It is important to act early if something isn’t going to your liking or a tradesman isn’t carrying out the task exactly as instructed by you. Communication is important at all stages and never assume that something will be corrected with- out you asking for it. Don’t be afraid to ask for clar- ification or proof of a particular aspect at any stage and for justifi- cation as to why a job isn’t being done as instructed. If required, get a second opin- ion, a tradesman who is confident in his work will not be overly con- cerned with this.  A tkinson’s Glass & Mirror Centre ltd Suppliers of Double Glazed Units Domestic & Commercial Repairs Glass &Mirrors Cut to Size Splashbacks, Balustrades Free Estimates Rear of 146 Portsmouth Road (Archery Grove) Woolston SO19 9AP Tel: 023 8040 5252 Fax: 023 8040 6754 atkinson.glass@btconnect.com www.glazingandmirrors.co.uk 01425 615485 07522 406938 alanmurphy01@hotmail.co.uk Big Enough to Cope, Small Enough to Care 35+ YEarS ExpEriEnCE General Building, Block paving and Driveways, Electrical Work, plumbing and Drainage, Carpentry and Joinery, painting and Decorating, Ceramic Tiling, Flat roofing and Guttering, Soffits and Fascias 10 Marine Dr. West, Barton on Sea, BH25 7QH

We offer FREE no obligation quotations Give us a call or send us an email

01202 877481 07713 121187 whiteandsonstarmac@yahoo.com

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JMC Installations

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TELEPHONE: 07971 020972

Extensions, Refurbishments & Loft Conversions

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www.jmcinstallations.co.uk info@jmcinstallations.co.uk

GAS, PLUMBING & HEATING

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Meeting all your glass & Mirror needs ♦ Misted up or broken double-glazed units replaced ♦ Mirrors made-to-measure ♦ Glass cut to size ♦ Broken glass replaced ♦ Heat-resistant glass for all wood burners ♦ Coloured glass splashbacks and glass balustrades made-to-measure 75a RumbRidge StReet • totton • So40 9dt Tel: 023 8086 3074 info@tottonglass.co.uk www.tottonglass.co.uk

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