Home improvements and building

If you are undertaking improvement or building work on your home, here is some useful advice.

Before work starts

  • don’t forget to contact our planning and building departments as necessary
  • if you have adjoining or shared walls, give your neighbours a party wall notice
  • if your home is listed or you live in a conservation area, check if there are any restrictions on what changes you can make.

Budgeting, quotes and specifications

  • make a detailed list of everything you would like to have included
  • compare quotes item by item and not just by the overall cost of the job
  • check that VAT is included in the final cost
  • set aside some money for unexpected problems
  • if you are thinking about taking out a loan or using another form of credit to pay for the work, consider the full cost of the credit including the interest
  • if you take out a loan or another form of credit to pay for the work, check the requirements of the agreement
  • a cooling off period may apply if you take out credit. This is a set period of time from when the credit agreement was agreed, during which you have the right to cancel
  • include costs for labour and parts in your overall budget
  • when purchasing items shop around and check online
  • agree who will purchase items and be responsible for making sure they arrive on time.

Finding a trader

  • carry out checks to find a good trader. TrustMark, a non-profit organisation, promotes local, trustworthy and reliable tradesmen
  • check online for websites with a feedback option to rate traders, but be wary of relying completely on the reports
  • be clear about whether you need building regulation certificates for any of the work you are doing
  • be prepared, look for a trader well in advance of when you would like the project to start
  • be careful about using anyone who comes to your door cold calling.  They may be rogue traders.

Contractual information

  • obtain written quotations and ask for them to be broken down so that you can see the price of work and materials for each item
  • produce a list or specification of what work you would like to have done
  • discuss who is responsible if there are delays and who pays
  • discuss and clarify house rules, for example no smoking in the house, or no muddy boots
  • check if you will be given a timetable for the work
  • agree how payments will be made
  • check if there any health and safety aspects you need to be aware of.

During work

  • agree a single point of contact for the project
  • have regular on site meetings
  • raise any issues as they arise, don’t wait for the end of the project
  • check that you are actually paying for the work that has been completed
  • check that your our Building Control department has signed off key stages of the work, if they are required to.

Finishing work

  • clarify what you would consider to be the end of the project. Make this clear at the very start and put this in writing so everyone knows
  • be clear about when you will be required to make the final payment and what it covers
  • remember that you are entitled to withhold a reasonable amount of money to ensure problems are put right.

Tidying up and snagging

  • clarify at the start what marks the end of the project and make a note of this
  • have a clear idea of when the final payment is due
  • you have a right to withhold a reasonable amount of money if work has not been done to satisfactory quality
  • keep a running list of items that are outstanding to form your snag list
  • if the trader is reluctant to talk to you, you can get advice about from the Citizens Advice consumer service.

Post completion

  • have the correct forwarding details for your trader
  • make sure that you have paperwork for items purchased by the trader and certificates for work, instructions and warranties.
Last updated: 21 June 2021 08:59:05