Managing a Tradesmen in Your Home So You Get a Good Job at a Fair Price

Your building project is all set to go. You’ve chosen your tradesman, you’ve agreed a price, and the cupboards are newly stocked with enough tea bags and biscuits to feed the entire street. Now all you have to do is sit back and watch those builders bring your visions to life.

Err…maybe not!

One of the most effective ways of keeping control over your building work is by making sure the project is properly managed. It may seem like the “done thing” to leave the professionals to “get on with it”, but you can seriously reduce the risk of things going wrong if you bring a bit of project management into play.  Think about it, you’d never hear of a major construction project being carried out, such as a new university block or a housing estate, without a project manager overseeing the details. So why should your home not be given the same consideration?

It doesn’t take experience or expertise to project manage your building work; it just requires a little bit of you being a little bit savvy.

Here’s how to do it:

1: Agree Terms Before You Start

Way before your tradesman starts unpacking his toolbox, sit down together and ask them to break down the work into convenient stages that work for the both of you and agree the terms. One of the most important parts of this agreement should include not making any upfront or advance payments and holding back final payments until the work has been completed to your satisfaction. You should also draw up a contract which clearly states the stage payments, when you are expected to pay invoices and a penalty clause if they the builder is late finishing on the due date.  

Don’t forget that terms and agreements work both ways, so you should pay promptly when instalments or balances are due. Your builder will appreciate punctual payments and will be more likely to stick to their working schedule if they can see that you are cooperating with them fairly.

Bear in mind that as larger jobs progress there will often be “extras” added on. Agree to these in the cases that you find reasonable (if you have changed your requirements or an unexpected issue arises, for example) but don’t be afraid to challenge anything that doesn’t seem to quite add up.

Agree terms before you start any project

2: Get All Quotes in Advance

Again, before the work van is parked on your drive and your builder is chirpily munching on your chocolate digestives, make sure you confirm the precise details for the work to be carried out. This should include the price, the payment terms, working hours, insurance and guarantees and how to resolve any future disputes if they arise. Don’t be afraid to state what you think is acceptable – reputable builders will always want to do their best work for you from the very start.

3: Be Professional

Good communication and a professional relationship with your trader are crucial to a smooth-running project. While there is nothing wrong with being courteous and engaging in a bit of friendly chit-chat, try to maintain a professional manner. Keep in mind that your builder is getting paid to do a job; and daily conversations about the weather, the local shop closing down or where you’re both planning on taking your summer holiday is only going to stall the progress of your project. It’s good to show an interest in the work that your builder is doing but the last thing you want is for your curiosity to become a barrier to the tradesman getting the job done. 

4: Strike While the Iron is Hot

It is always cheaper (and less stressful!) to address any issues as and when they arise. If you are unhappy or unsure about any of the work your builder has done/ plans to do, speak about it with them immediately so that any mistakes/ miscommunications can be “nipped in the bud”.  It also doesn’t hurt to dangle the prospect of further work or a good review for a job well done (as long as you stick to your word, of course!).

Remember that staying in the game is the only way to win.  It doesn’t take a bucket of cement or a Black and Decker to work with your builder; it just takes planning and a regular flow of communication. By employing some subtle project management to your building job, you can remain in control of the progress of the work being carried out and develop a positive, trusting relationship with your trader.

Published: 4 February 2019