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Before you set on the Builders

Updated on May 29, 2012
my new studio
my new studio | Source

Save the stress.

Before you set on the builders.

There are so many horror stories about builders, and plumbers that I thought I’d share a few tips on how to lessen the chance of being ripped off.

First, before you even begin to look for someone, make sure that you have it clear in your mind what you think the job is. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve, whether it is a new bathroom or a garden wall. Write down what you want, make sure you include tidying up the mess, removing the rubble and clearing up the site after the job is done. I saved pounds on a large job I was planning simply by sourcing the flag-stones myself. The best quote the builder had come up with was £23.50 per metre, I managed to find a place not that far away that gave me builder’s discount of a pound a metre which brought the price down to £13.50 a metre. When you consider I need 60 metres then a saving of £10 a metre was well worth the effort.

Next find out for yourself whether you need planning permission, consult your local authority, I’ve always found them very helpful. Do not forget that in England you also need building regs as well as planning permission.

Decide on your budget, if you need a loan make sure that you can get one before you start anything else.

Get at least three quotes, you will need to ask about seven companies to come, but they seldom all turn up. Make a note, of whom you have contacted, and their answer, and when they intend to call on you.

These chaps are always nice and friendly at this stage and you think you can trust them, but don’t be fooled. Keep it friendly but business like. If they are calling you ‘pal’ and ‘mate’, they have no respect for you, be careful.

Ask, or better still demand a written quote that covers all the items on your list do not accept a ‘well it’ll cost you about two grand squire.’ Even if that sounds cheap for the work to be done. Do not forget, if it sounds too cheap then it probably is not what you want. If they will not give you the quote then ditch them, however much you may have liked them.

Wait for all your quotes ; tell them a date that their quote has to be with you for. Sit down with all the quotes and read them properly; get help if you are not sure about terminology or equipment.

Once you are happy with the quote, and you have had another word with the company, ask how they would prefer to be paid. Most will say cash, some will offer this thing about, and if you pay cash we’ll knock off the VAT.  Well that’s up to you, but if they are not charging you VAT then they are not declaring the income they have made from the work, I have asked for 10% discount if I pay cash. They are saving 25% not paying taxes, I know it’s illegal, but we all know it happens. And as we have members of our Parliament who claim expenses for having their duck ponds cleaned out, I wouldn’t worry about it, at one time I would have but not now. Paying by direct bankers draft, or BACS if you bank on line is the best way.

Do not give money up front before the work has started. That is a sure way to be ripped off. Ask when the company will want paying, it is perfectly okay to keep paying a little bit, as you go along. Tell them that you will hold back £200, or dollars whatever until after the job is finished to your satisfaction and everything is cleared up, and tidied away. They will not like it but again it is a common feature in big business to do this, except on a much larger scale.

If your builder decides that he can’t be bothered finishing the job because something more lucrative has turned up then you have some money left to pay someone else to do the job.

Be in charge, and when he says, ‘the pointing on your chimney needs doing, I could do that for an extra 200’, decline the offer and say you will think about it, it’s another con. Just stick to your original plan, because as soon as he’s on your roof, then ‘you have a couple of cracked tiles that need replacing your gutter needs attention the TV ariel is loose, all things that are difficult to verify but each one potentially going to cost more than you planned.

Good luck, follow these simple tips and you should have slightly less stress attached to setting someone on in the future.


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    • tonymead60 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Mead 

      6 years ago from Yorkshire

      Derdriu, the voice of experience really, so many people get ripped off, and unfortunatly it is a little bit their own fault for not just making the effort. Not always of course, there are some real villains out there. If I'm doing a project I spend weeks on the preparation and even then things can go wrong.

      thanks to you for your ever welcome and useful comments.

      regards Tony

      P.S. I'm listening to Bob Dylan at the moment. have a nice day.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Tony, What a helpful, practical, timely, useful hub on how to have dream projects built and paid in ways satisfactory to the customer! In particular, I like how you break the project down so that planning anticipates challenges and so that ways of saving money and stress can be identified, such as through out-sourcing. Additionally, your insights and cautions can be applied to both major and minor projects.

      Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing, Derdriu

    • tonymead60 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Mead 

      7 years ago from Yorkshire

      Hi Phil

      thanks for your comment, I don't know of a 100% answer, but I hope my ideas will help.


    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      You've definitely got some great tips here. Getting multiple quotes is key - but also, getting references from these contractors would be a good idea. Better still, find someone you know who has hired a contractor who has had a good experience.

    • tonymead60 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Mead 

      7 years ago from Yorkshire

      cheers micks, thanks for the comment

    • MickS profile image


      7 years ago from March, Cambridgeshire, England

      Good stuff, Tony, well written and useful.




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