What To Do Before You Begin Any Construction Work

If you are having repairs or building work done on your home, you may be exposed to the Coronavirus. Plumbers, electricians, and other tradespeople can still come to your home to make repairs as long as they don’t have coronavirus symptoms. They should try to stay at least 2 meters away from you and avoid any vulnerable individuals.

If the work you’re having done isn’t an emergency, you should consider doing it later. Traders should only come if you are self-isolating or if someone in your home is in danger.

When preparing to have building work, renovations, or repairs done on your home, these steps should help you save time, money, and stress. They will also assist you in avoiding issues with builders, plumbers, and other contractors, such as decorators and electricians.

Step 1: Determine whether you require permission or approval.

Check to see if you require:

•  Building regulations approval. You may need this even for minor improvements, such as replacing windows or doors planning permission. It is usually needed if you are building something new or making a major change, such as an extension 

• Planning permission. It is required when building something new or making a major change, such as an extension.

If you hire a contractor who is registered with a ‘competent person scheme,’ you won’t have to apply for building regulations approval yourself. These are schemes that have been sanctioned by the government.

If you don’t use a contractor who is registered with a competent person scheme, you must submit a building notice or a full plans application to the Building Control Body. You must also pay a fee for them to come and inspect the work you have completed.

If you need to obtain approval or permission

It is possible that you will need to hire a surveyor or an architect to assist you in applying for building regulations approval or planning permission. If you can’t afford it, go to your local Citizen’s Advice and inquire about applying for the Chartered Surveyor’s Voluntary Service.

If you live in a protected area

If your home is in a conservation area, you must also check with your local council before doing any work on it.

If you own a leasehold

Check your lease. Before you begin work, you may need to obtain permission from the freeholder. Even if the lease prohibits you from making changes, you can still request permission from the freeholder. You may be required to pay some fees.

Step 2: How to Find Reliable Builders or Contractors

Recommendations and references are excellent resources for locating dependable contractors who do a good job. If you are unable to obtain personal recommendations from people you know, request references from contractors.

It’s best to obtain:

•  2 or 3 recent examples of similar work they’ve completed. Avoid contractors who refuse to provide references; this is a red flag that they may be dishonest.

•  Contact information for the people they worked for – it’s best to contact them because written references aren’t always genuine.

Perform the necessary checks.

It’s risky to use someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to gas or electricity.

You should make use of:

• A registered gas engineer for gas work, such as installing a boiler or cooker;

•  An electrician for electrical work, such as installing new lighting or rewiring

•  Someone in a competent person scheme for work that needs building regulations approval (unless you got approval yourself)

Pay attention to what a contractor says.

It’s a good idea to double-check what a contractor says or what their website says, especially if they’ve knocked on your door or called to offer their services. For example, you can:

•  Request a business card or letterhead, or obtain complete contact information, and then call the company to confirm that it exists and that the contractor works for them.

•  Request proof of qualifications, such as an NVQ in construction for builders or a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card (trade associations can tell you about qualifications for particular types of work)

•  Check trade association websites to see if the contractor is a member if they say they are.

When you meet them, write down what they say they’ll do – if you hire them, having a record of the job details from this conversation, as well as the written contract you’ll get before they start the work, will be useful.

Step 3 : Obtain quotes before deciding who to hire.

A quote is a guarantee from the contractor that the job will be completed at a set price. Get a written quote instead of relying on a spoken quote. Some contractors will charge for bids. Make sure you find out if this is the case before proceeding.

 Before you choose one contractor, request written bids from at least three others. Comparing quotations might assist you to figure out if you’re receiving a good deal.

Whether or not you have a written agreement with the contractor when you say yes to a quote, it is a legally enforceable agreement between you and the contractor. However, having it in writing allows you to double-check what you committed to and prove it later if there is a disagreement.

You can’t pay more than the price on the contractor’s quote unless the following conditions are met:

• They made a genuine mistake when writing down or calculating the price – they have the legal right to charge you what it should have been • you ask for extra work that isn’t included in the quote

• They let you know they have to do extra work and you agree to pay more for it

• They made a genuine mistake when writing down or calculating the price – you agree to pay more for it

What should a quote contain?

 A quote should have the following information:

• A summary of all the work to be done and the materials required

• Separate costs for each item and component of the work

• The length of time the price is valid for

• Whether the price includes VAT

• When a price increase is possible, such as if you agree to additional labour

 If you get a daily fee rather than a fixed total price, there’s a chance the contractor will prolong the project to make more money. To avoid this, have them write the following in writing:

• How long the job will take

• How many hours a day counts as a day

• When they’ll need your permission to work more days.

Verify that your contractor is covered by the appropriate insurance.

 Before you say yes to a quote, be sure the contractor is properly insured and that you have a documented contract.

Step 4 : Check to see if insurance is applied.

Inquire about insurance coverage and make sure they don’t expire before the work is completed. If they are required to have insurance, they must show you the coverage.

Insurance is beneficial to have

Ask contractors if they have public liability insurance, which will cover you and them if someone is injured or property is damaged (such as your home or your neighbor’s). If they don’t have any, you should consider making your own.

Contractors that work for a corporation must carry employer’s liability insurance; if they don’t, they are breaching the law. It makes no difference if it’s their own business or not. It protects both you and the firm if someone is injured on the job.

Check for additional insurance.

Other types of insurance may be available, but keep in mind that the contractor is responsible for performing the work with reasonable care and competence. If they don’t, you can have the job redone or a portion of the amount refunded.

Contractors’ all-risk insurance pays for the expense of replacing work that is destroyed before it is finished and before your insurance kicks in.

If the contractor offers it, you can purchase an insurance-backed warranty or guarantee as part of the job fee. Before you buy one, make sure you know exactly what it covers. It should cover the cost of finishing or repairing the work if the contractor does a poor job or goes out of business.

What to look for in your insurance

If you have house or contents insurance, check with your provider to see if you’ll be covered while the repair is being done. It’s possible that you’ll have to pay more for insurance both before and after work.

Your insurer will almost certainly want to know who you’re hiring and what kind of insurance they have. They may advise you to purchase joint insurance with the contractor.

How to safeguard yourself and your property from harm or loss

If you don’t already have home and contents insurance, it’s a good idea to purchase some before the work begins. You may feel more secure knowing that you have insurance in place in case of damage or loss.

Step 5 : Obtain a written contract.

Even though it’s not written down, you’ve formed a contract with a contractor as soon as you give them the go-ahead.

Before you give the green light, be sure you have a contract on paper. A written contract can help you receive what you paid for, or at least get some of your money back if the contractor doesn’t do what you agreed.

Check to see sure the contractor’s contract includes everything you agreed on. You can write your own if they don’t.

If your contractor refuses to give you written documentation,

Contractors that refuse to put anything in writing should be avoided since they may be dishonest.

Assist with contract writing

Written contracts don’t have to be written in legalese; they just have to have the following information:
• you get precisely what you pay for (they can refer back to the quote for this)
• everything you’ve agreed on, such as deadlines, clean-up, materials, and payments


Check to see if the contract includes the following:
• start and finish dates
• number of days the work will take and how many working hours are in a day if you’ve agreed on a daily rate
• delays – why they might happen and what the contractor will do about them


Check to see if the contract includes the following:
• who pays for skip delivery and pickup
• how and when the contractors will remove trash and clean up after themselves

Subcontractors, materials, and equipment

Check to see if the contract includes the following:
• Who pays for products and equipment that the contractor purchases, and how they’ll provide you with records and papers
• If and when subcontractors will be used


Check to see if the contract specifies how and when you’ll pay. Attempt to:
• Pay with a credit card rather than cash
• Pay in installments
• Avoid making deposits or upfront payments
• Gain some financial protection

If your contractor is only willing to accept cash,
Contractors who only accept cash or need full payment upfront should be avoided since they may be dishonest or untrustworthy.

Paying with a credit card rather than cash

If you pay with a credit or debit card, you might be able to get your money back from your bank if something goes wrong, such as the contractor failing to show up and refusing to refund your deposit.

If this happens, contact your bank and request that the chargeback mechanism be used.

Paying in installments

This is a fantastic idea, especially if the task is large because it allows you to correct any issues before making the final payment. Make it clear when payments are due at each stage of the project.

Keeping deposits at bay

If something goes wrong or the contractor doesn’t show up, don’t commit to pay everything up ahead.

If they ask for a deposit to pay for goods, offer to buy them instead of paying a deposit; that way, if something goes wrong, at least you own the materials.

You may not be able to avoid paying a deposit if the work would take a lengthy time. Attempt to reduce it as much as possible, and don’t agree to more than 25%.

Always obtain a deposit receipt, as well as receipts for any materials covered by the deposit.

Obtaining security

You can keep your deposit or staged payments safe until the job is finished, for example, by using a:
• Deposit protection scheme: your money will be held in a safe account until both you and the builder are satisfied with the work.
• insurance-backed warranty or guarantee – some contractors offer these to cover the cost of finishing or repairing work if they perform a poor job or go out of business.

The time limit for cooling off

If you change your mind within 14 days of providing the go-ahead or signing a written contract, you may be allowed to cancel the deal. You may be required to pay for some or all of the work if you agreed that it might begin within those 14 days.

Step 6 : 

Before work begins, obtain the contractor’s complete contact information. It’s easier to cope with any problems that arise if you know how to contact someone.

As soon as something happens that you don’t like, you should:
• Request that the builder or contractor correct the problem.
• Ask them to put it in writing if they can’t agree on how they’ll solve it.

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