Seek Professional Help When Taking On Big Home Improvement Projects

To some degree this depends on the size of the job you have in mind. Your budget will determine the amount of professional help you are going to seek. If you plan to do structural renovations then perhaps it is worth the additional expense of an architect or project manager! Think long term, picture the result, any potential legal issues and whether or not the work is needed or simply something you really feel you can’t live without.

Unless the work is of a very minor nature some statutory approvals such as planning or building regulation approval may be required. The Building Control department at your local council offices will be able to help with this. They can also advise on whether or not grants are available. You can then begin to assess the need to appoint a professional such as an architect or surveyor to carry out design or whether you are going direct to a tradesman.

If the property is still covered under any scheme such as NHBC Buildmark you must inform the company providing the warranty.

Your mortgage provider and home insurer should also be advised of the work. You should inform neighbours and you must be sure of your land boundaries and aware of any rights of way that may have been acquired. Your builder cannot help here and if this is discovered after the agreement is signed and work is prevented you could be liable for delay costs.

If in any doubt seek professional advice it could be cost be very cost effective.

Rock Bottom Prices Not Always Best!

The range of prices should not be excessive; you shoudl expect 10 - 15% between the top and the bottom; be suspicious of a very low price.

Write back to contractors thanking them for providing a quotation. It can be helpful to them to know what the lowest price was, but do not get drawn into any offers of reduction or price-matching, as the contractor may be tempted to look for ways to recoup the shortfall.

Background Information

Before you decide to enlist the services of a tradesman - ask for current references, certainly not older than 3 to 4 months. Whenever possible obtain a reference from another professional tradesman who knows the tradesman you have in mind, or a neighbor or friend who has used the same tradesman in the past. You should also visit at least one of their sites where work is currently being performed.

Even if all you do is drive past the work site you will be able to get a better idea of the organisation and its capabilities. This should enable you to form a more objective opinion to help you decide.

You can of course find a vetted contractor through our service "Find A Professional Tradesman" at the top right of every page.

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