Consumer confidence has risen to its highest level in more than three years, according to a new report from Lloyds Bank. With the return of consumer confidence homeowners that, understandably, have delayed undertaking more ambitious home improvements during the long recession will now be putting plans in place for extensions, new kitchens, bathrooms, boiler upgrades and perhaps renewable energy technologies. These might be sizeable investments and homeowners will want to steer well clear of the thousands of rogue traders and cowboy builders operating in the UK. Here’s some timely advice from Roderick Pettigrew, Chief Executive of B&ES, on how to find reputable companies for this work and the sensible steps to take to ensure everything goes smoothly.
- For peace of mind we strongly recommend that homeowners only use the services of a Trustmark member. It’s the only trade competence scheme officially endorsed and backed by the Government. Trustmark was set up specifically to help homeowners and consumers locate local reputable trades-people to carry out quality improvements, repairs and maintenance work on their home or garden.
- Obtain written and itemised quotes from at least three Trustmark members. Ask for a written quotation – not an estimate. A quote is legally binding but an estimate is not.
- Getting quotes will give you a realistic guide to how much the work is likely to cost and it will also help you plan for the work and look at ways to raise money, if you need to.
- Itemised quotes help you to compare what different traders charge for each part of the work. They will also help you to decide which part you can remove if the costs are higher than your budget allows.
- Quotes should include V.A.T. If it is not mentioned, check whether it is included and write down the final amount you will be asked to pay. Agree how payments will be made and discuss potential delays to the work including who is responsible for them and any cost related to delays. Don’t pay up front and a Trustmark member will not expect you to.
- Have a regular dialogue with the contractor and raise any issues as they arise – don’t wait until the end of the work. Have a clear idea of when the final payment is due and remember that you are entitled to withhold a reasonable amount of money to ensure problems are put right.
For more information about the TrustMark scheme visit: www.trustmark.org.uk