If the problem you have identified is straightforward you can go straight to a tradesman. If it's complicated, big or you are not sure what is causing the problem, you may want to employ someone to manage the work.
Getting Professional Help
An architect, surveyor or engineer can look at the problem and advised you what work needs done. They can also organise and scrutinise quotes for you and then supervise the work. The RIAS and RICS can give you best, approach two or three and ask:
- what experience they have of doing similar work;
- who will manage the work;
- what is the cost, and what does it include;
- when can they start.
Drawing up a works plans and specification of materials and methods
If you are employing someone to manage the work they will do this for you.
If you are doing it yourself, you can refer to publications such as the Tenement Handbook www.thetenement.co.uk
Finding someone suitable to do the repair
You should get two or three quotes based on your schedule of work and specifications.
There are some important question to ask when getting quotes:
- Do they have experience of this type of work?
- Do they belong to a reputable trade organisation, and does it offer any guarantee and/or a complaints service?
- Do they have proof of indemnity insurance and can they provide references/details of past clients who you can contact to discuss the contractor's performance?
- Are they VAT registered? If not, they are likely to be a small business and may not be able to handle big jobs.
Agreeing on a price
Ask for a list of works and detailed, written quotations, not estimates. A quotation is a price that the builder must stick to (unless you agree to more work being carried out). If it is detailed, you can compare like with like.
Check if the price includes VAT.
Getting it in writing
If you are employing a tradesman yourself you will need to set out the working arrangements in writing.
Agree in advance:
- The price is fixed and only to be increased if agreed with you beforehand.
- You will retain 5% of the cost for six months after completion (to be used to pay for defects if the builder does not return to sort them).
- A start and finish date only to be exceeded for factors beyond the builder's control.
- Who will be their main site supervisor.
- Who will give instructions on your part.
- Who you can make complaints to.
- That tradesmen will respect health and safety regulations and use only specified materials.
- That the builder will get all consents required (e.g. building warrants, scaffolding permits etc).
- Which areas if the site are not to be used for building works or storage.
- Whether they will need access to water, toilets or electricity.
- Levels of cleanliness expected and arrangements for reinstatement of any disturbance.
Before the job starts
Access - You should make sure that anyone whose property will need to be accessed for the work is aware of this and they have given permission, for example a neighbouring flat in a shared block or the garden of an adjacent property.
Security - You or your neighbour may need to give workmen access to your home to carry out work. You should consider putting valuables in a locked room where access is not required or having a trusted person present during the works. When a scaffold is erected, access to upper floors will become possible, so lock your windows. Most insurance polices require notification of when a scaffold is erected.
Repairs to common properties
If you live in a shared building you will need to work with your neighbours at all stages of the repairs. Our Organising Common Repairs section explains how you should get organised.