Top tips for managing building work in your home

Managing building work in your home can be very stressful and often disruptive to your home-life because rooms can’t be used. If a project is not managed properly it can result in disputes and financial headaches. Read our top tips for managing the process from start to finish and what to do if things go wrong.

If you're stuck for ideas, check out our top ten tips for adding value to your home which covers major work to freshening up a room or area.

Finding the right builder

Personal recommendations are often the safest bet, so ask your friends and neighbours if they can recommend anyone and, if possible, view the work that was done for them.

Alternatively, there are ‘find a builder’ websites including one run by the Federation of Master Builders.

Be wary of tradespeople ringing you up or knocking on your door, especially if they want you to sign up to a ‘special deal’ on the spot. Be equally cautious of leaflets that come through the door, particularly if they only have a telephone number and no name or address.

We recommend you ask each builder the following questions before you get a quote:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Are they a member of a trade association?
  • Can you see references for similar work they have done?
  • Do they have public liability insurance against damage to property and neighbouring properties?
  • Is their work guaranteed?


Getting quotes for the work

To minimise the risks of future disputes, especially around the cost of work, you should:

  • Ask at least three tradespeople to provide a quote for the work.
  • Request a fixed price quote rather than an estimate which could increase after the work has started. And ensure you have a payment plan in place.
  • Check that everything you asked for is included in each quote including specifications and schedule.
  • Choose the quote which offers best value for money, taking into account not only price but also the builder’s reputation for quality and reliability.

And remember, don't feel pressurised into getting work done that you can't afford!

Before the work starts

When you’ve found the right builder for the job, the next step is to get a contract in place. It should clearly define the work to be done so that there can be no doubt what the builder is expected to do. If there are plans and specifications for the work, these should be included.

Major building work is likely to increase the cost of rebuilding your home.

If it entails structural alteration or an extension, you must inform your insurance company to make sure you’re adequately covered by your building insurance.

For larger building projects, you may need planning permission, so check with your local authority's planning and building control department.

Any work undertaken will need to comply with Building Regulations, so make sure you know what these are by taking a look at the government's planning portal.

If your builder needs access to your neighbour’s land to carry out work, then you will need to seek their permission in advance. It is advisable to get an agreement in writing.

During the work

As soon as building work starts, it is sensible to keep an eye on progress and regularly refer to the contract and plans to make sure everything is on track.

Don’t be afraid to ask the builder for regular updates or to express your concerns if you suspect something isn’t going to plan.

If things go wrong

Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are many reasons why a building project might not go to plan.

It could be that the work is delayed, doesn't meet the specifications or that your property has been damaged during the work.

It is advisable to address any issue quickly and, >most importantly, in writing. We also recommend keeping a record of all communications.

For delays in completing the work, you are within your rights to tell your builder that you will end the contract unless the work is finished within a stated period.

If the builder does not complete the work or if the work is faulty, you can get quotes from an alternative tradesperson to complete the job, and demand that the original builder covers the costs.

MORE THAN Legal Services cover gives you online access to a range of letter templates including quotation, small-scale building work contract, delay complaint and a demand for the original builder to pay the costs of finishing the work.

It also gives you access to a jargon-free online guide to help you understand your legal rights and how to protect your interests when getting building work done in your home.

To buy Legal Services as part of your new Home Insurance policy, simply select the add-on when you get a quote for your home insurance . If you're already a customer and would like to add Legal Services, call us today on 0330 102 3627.

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