The building contracting and home renovation industry has experienced a lot of bad press and publicity for a number of years, and sometimes rightly so. That is because unfortunately there are a high number of unethical and dangerous practitioners operating in this industry, preying on unsuspecting homeowners by giving shoddy services whilst making unreasonable demands for the works carried out.
Below are the seven most common mistakes most homeowners make when choosing a builder or Home Renovation contractor.
Not Asking For References Regarding Previous Works Carried Out
It's very easy to simply take someone at their word regarding what they can do and without seeing some form of proof. Now in the long run, not doing this has proven to be rather costly and in some cases, be rather dangerous because of simply taking on face value, what the contractor says.
Here's a test you should carry out if you really want peace of mind and a successful outcome when it comes to getting the type of work you want done in your home - simply ask the contractor for the names of two previous customers whom you can contact or even better go round and see examples of his work.
When you are given those names and contact details, simply phone those customers up and ask them a few questions. You don't have to do this whilst the contractor is there with you, although, if you do and the contractor is more than willing for that to happen, you can make a worthy assumption that the contractor has nothing to hide and is more than likely a genuine quality tradesperson. It's when the contractor is not willing to give you any past customer details, that's the time you should be concerned, very concerned.
You can ask any or all of the questions below to any previous clients -
What's been your overall experience of XYZ builder/contractor
What didn't you like about them?
Would you refer them to your family or friends based on the work they carried out for you?
If possible, could I see and make a visit for myself the kinds of work they've done?
Not Finding Out How Qualified the Contractors Are
It's a given that the surgeon is perfectly qualified to carry out the procedure if we underwent heart surgery or any other major operation at the local hospital. We 'd probably have no reason to distrust anything that's going on.
Creating specific home renovations and building and structural work is a skillful practice. It's a disciplined, professional craft. And, just like any regulated profession, there are certain qualifications and benchmarks that will help prospective customers to help decide whether or not a builder or contractor is qualified and professional.
It's easy to be swayed by a builder's advert or seeing their van or truck with their name and contact details on it and feel that because they are 'in the business' that they are automatically credible and professional.
Asking about their qualifications, and letting them speak how and when they achieved their qualifications, is vital if you're looking for a quality, professional contractor.
Thinking a Low Quote Means Excellent Value for Money
One of the biggest mistakes when hiring a building contractor is to think that because you receive a low quote for the intended job, that you've bagged yourself a bargain. In fact, more often than not, a low quote most likely means any of the following:
Low quality materials being used for the job
Shortcuts and cutting corners in order to get the job done fast
No real attention to detail Irregular communication patterns and very little interaction ie "we'll get on with it and let you know if we need anything"
Use of unqualified staff and labourers
Poor quality work leading to the job being re-contracted at a later date. (What this means is that the job ends up costing more than probably the best original proposals and quotes from other, better quality contractors!).
The thing is, you'll be able to spot a contractor you don't won't want to carry out the work for you because if you pay close attention to these 7 big mistakes in this Consumer Awareness Guide, you'll be able to spot a rogue builder or contractor, a mile off!
Going Ahead Without an Agreement or Written Proposal
Another glaringly obvious mistake is to not get anything down in writing. It's easy to go ahead with the works you want done simply based on the words from a builder or contractor. The problem with that way of doing things is that it's very easy to forget who said what and what was to be done.
And what makes things really appealing is when you're offered a discount by 'paying cash', because in that way, the contractor is essentially saying that he doesn't want to be invoiced or have anything written down because he'll be charging you much less for the work.
The fact of the matter is once the work's done, you'll have a hard time getting hold of the contractor if there's something not quite right with the job. Because, as if by magic, you will have found that the builder has disappeared from the scene. And because there's no record of things, the homeowner will be left to
pick up the pieces - which inevitably means that more energy, time and money is spent looking for another contractor. The alternative is that the works are just left as they are, incomplete, unattended and leaving you, the homeowner with another powerful reason to distrust those in the building profession as a whole!
So the big advice is to get things written down. And if the contractor doesn't want to go down that route, then you know you've come across someone you'll want to pass on, quickly.
Assuming The Job Will Be Completed on Time
One of the biggest headaches many homeowners face when hiring a builder or contractor is about having the job finish on time. It's a mistake to simply believe what the contractor verbally says when it comes to timelines and deadlines because most builders are notoriously known for breaking promises and commitments when it comes to finishing jobs.
A true professional will give you specific timelines he expects to complete the job. And the reason he can give such a reassurance - and with extreme confidence - is because he's thoroughly analysed the job that has to be done.
More importantly, he's developed a number of carefully constructed business methods and ways of doing business that makes the whole customer and contractor relationship, a wonderful one.
Creating a 'Part Works' Arrangement
There are hundreds of DIY books, tip sheets, informational resources that are available showing people how to create their own patios, extensions, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. The fact of the matter is that even armed with the greatest will and intention in the world, there are only a handful of people in a thousand who can start, finish and follow through with particular DIY house projects.
The number of botched up, incomplete and unfinished jobs, is scary.
The big mistake here is negotiating with a builder to finish off website the job you have started. Now although you may have invested time and money in getting the job half done (or to whatever state or condition it's currently in) the worst thing to do is get a cheap quotation for someone to finish off what you've started.
And, if you do find someone who agrees to 'patch up and make good what you've started' be prepared for the ugly things that follow because it's more than likely that the whole job will have to be started again with a new contractor - thus costing you even more money as well as hearing about the total dissatisfaction of it all from members of your household.
Not Asking for Written Guarantee
Mistake No 7 is not asking for any guarantee on the finished job. And it's easy to skip this part because when you're looking at a finished piece of work, one automatically assumes that everything will be fine and that there will be no need to call on the contractor or builder again.
Of course, we all know that it's only AFTER a job has been completed that we then see how good the work really is, because that's the time a written guarantee is essential.
When you ask a contractor "do you guarantee your work?" (which essentially means that - depending on the kind of job - that you the customer, will be covered against any kind of collapse, structural damage, botched up job! ... and if after asking this question and the contractor says" yes" but does not give you anything in writing, then that maybe the red light signal to put a halt on things.
Professionals delivering excellent service and super quality work will have no hesitation in giving a written guarantee. And the real fact of the matter is that because it's your home, and because you'll be living there for some time to come, it just makes plain commonsense to get the best job you can afford from a builder or contractor you can trust.
And if it means paying more than the quick fix, fly by night contractors, (because all they are after is your money, without giving an equivalent value in return) then you'll find in the long run that it's always the best option and, it'll work out to be the cheapest option because there will be less expense needed later on in fixing and re-doing the job because of poor craftsmanship.
You don't have to do this whilst the contractor is there with you, although, if you do and the contractor is more than willing for that to happen, you can make a worthy assumption that the contractor has nothing to hide and is more than likely a genuine quality tradesperson. And, just like any regulated profession, there are certain qualifications and benchmarks that will help prospective customers to help decide whether or not a builder or contractor is qualified and professional.
It's easy to go ahead with the works you want done simply based on the words from a builder or contractor. The fact of the matter is once the work's done, you'll have a hard time getting hold of the contractor if there's something not quite right with the job. ... and if after asking the contractor and this question says" yes" but does not give you anything in writing, then that maybe the red light signal to put a halt on things.