The Cheapest Quotes Are Not Always The Best

When home-owners experience a problem with their home – be it damp, damaged double glazing, electrical problems, or even a leaking roof – it is always a troubling time for them. As far as the home-owner is concerned, the damage needs to be rectified in the shortest possible time and at the least possible cost. There are always other bills to pay and this type of problem never happens at the right time.

It is very important to get the best job done and that means finding a recommended local tradesman, not a cowboy builder! The best tradesmen may take a little longer to complete a job as they take care when they work, they use high quality materials and they employ a skilled workforce. They have completed apprenticeships, have certification to prove they are trained, hold membership to trade associations and work to the appropriate building codes. They also tend to pay their staff a little more as they expect more in return from them.

All of this costs a few pounds more per day and you end up paying more for their services as a result. This is not a bad thing. In many cases those who go for the cheapest prices, without consideration given to quality and expertise, will find that are less satisfied with the end result. Opting for the cheapest price is not always a great idea.

If you can afford to pay a little more, do so and insist on a builder, roofer or other tradesman who has experience, references and most importantly offers you a great personal service, where there is mutual respect between you and the builder. Not only are most builders prepared to work a little harder where there is mutual respect, but they also invariably be happier to return and correct any issues that might occur after the job is completed! You will know when it's the right price and the right building company that you are about to employ as you will have based your decision on their credibility and references. If the builder cares about his presentation he will most likely care about his work too. Price is not the key to a good job being done, and you never know, perhaps the best tradesman will actually give you the best price anyway! We certainly hope so, but remember, the best price is not the most important consideration. Good luck!

How To Get The Best Quote / Estimate From A Tradesman

You should obtain several estimates for the proposed work. It does not matter what the response is called - a tender, a quotation or an estimate - each has equal standing as a contract sum once you sign an agreement for the price, but beware of any qualifications. It is important to ensure that each contractor prices on full and equal information and if possible returns on the same date. Try to keep this part as formal and professional as possible.

Some tips in obtaining a quotation: -

  1. Do not waste the contractor's time in obtaining prices for works you have no real intention in following up immediately - prices are not held open indefinitely
  2. Seeking five prices would be excessive for a £20,000 extension, three would be reasonable
  3. Do not use one contractor's information to obtain other prices
  4. Do not enter into a dutch-auction i.e. using one price to drive down another
  5. You are under no obligation to accept any price submitted, but you should give consideration to every price properly submitted. If you have asked for a tender and it does not arrive, chase it up it could be the best and may just be lost in the post
  6. Include all information and conditions that will be required during the execution of works such as:
    • The parties to the contract
    • The information the pricing was based on and who is responsible for obtaining any further information
    • Working hours and access limits
    • Any special agreement conditions
    • Start and completion dates
    • Payment, method and frequency
    • Damages for non-completion (which must be a genuine pre-estimate of any actual losses you may incur through late completion)
    • Insurance requirements
    • Use of any on site facilities such power supply's and toilets
    • It is a very good idea to use one of the standard forms of contract such as the JCT Building Contractor or HomePro Works Contract for a homeowner/occupier or for larger jobs the JCT Agreement for Minor Building Works (see our notes on getting a good contract)
  7. The general outcome is that if you leave anything to the contractor to decide, it may not be decided as you expected
  8. If you are unsure about anything ask the contractors for a list of exclusions
  9. After the price has been agreed your bargaining power is weakened and after the work commences on site it is probably lost altogether
  10. The majority of construction disputes stem from poor communication and there are usually two sides to the story
  11. Although you should include all information known to you, you are not an expert and will not be judged as having special knowledge. Make it apparent in preparing the tender information that you are relying on the contractor for pricing a comprehensive package to carry out and complete the works to all recognised standards

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