If you are thinking of having work done to your home like a loft conversion or extension, please read the following advice notes, because things can go wrong!
Have you thoroughly checked out which contractor you are considering using? It is worth looking to see if they are members or registered with or of:
- approved trader sites
- Gas Safe
- BWC - Buy With Confidence - Trading Standards Approved Scheme
Don't entertain anyone who just knocks at your door!!
Also consider carrying out an open source check online. Look up reviews and ask for references from previous clients. Don’t forget to check their public liability insurance.
Ask whether all the trades are employees or subcontractors.
Don’t forget to get at least 3 quotes!
You must get ‘something’ in writing like quotes or estimates. Ideally this should be a standard contract for all the building works. Without one, neither you or your contractor will know what you agreed to.
If you agree on the contract in your own home, the contract must include reference to ‘cancellation rights’.
This is a legal requirement under The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
This allows you to withdraw from the contract up to 14 days after signing. If there is no mention of any form of a cancellation notice, the contract may be unenforceable.
If the contract is agreed by distance - email, telephone or post, you must still be given cancellation rights. However, this does not apply if you sign or agree the contract on the contractor’s premises.
You can download a very basic example of a contract - click on the document above the contents. You can also search one from the internet, unless of course your contractor provides one, but do make sure you read and fully understand the entire document. For example, you should not be charged for ‘snagging’, so if itemised on your contract, do not agree and remove it.
Additional Work (add ons) or alteration to the original contract
Any ‘add ons’ or any change to the original contract, must clearly be agreed in writing and signed by both you, the client, and the contractor.
Without proof it will be difficult to discuss any issues you may encounter later, so make sure you keep a copy.
Makes sure a realistic time scale is agreed.
Makes sure the contract clearly sets out stage payments and never pay up front all of the contracted price.
If the contract is up to £30k maximum, you could consider using your credit card. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the credit card company is jointly liable. So if the contractor goes bust/fails to complete the contract, therefore a breach of contract, you can also pursue a full claim against the credit card company.
Planning Permission and/or Building Regulations
Unless otherwise agreed in writing with your architect or contractor, you the client, are responsible for any planning/building regulations. Lots of clients ‘assume’ their contractor is dealing with this.