How can I tell whether a builder is a ‘cowboy’?
It's important to make sure you employ the right builder for the right job, and that they're capable of delivering the quality you want. Check that your proposed contractor is a reputable one by asking for at least two or three referrals. Both produce guidelines for choosing the right builder so take a look at their websites.
How can I be sure I’ll get what I pay for?
Check that you know what is included in the price and whether VAT is included or will be added on top. Plannex will give you a detailed quotation breakdown as part of our price, showing you exactly what's included and what assumptions and provisional costing have been applied.
I've obtained several quotes – presumably I should accept the cheapest?
Good quality is rarely cheap and your property is a major investment. Although we price competitively we don't cut corners or carry out second-rate work in return. Also, don’t just look at the bottom line – check that you're comparing like with like. We aim to produce quotations that are clear, concise and easy to understand, so you know exactly what's covered.
I think I trust my proposed builder, so what’s the problem with shaking hands and getting on with it?
It's important for you to know what your rights are if things go wrong. Check what form of agreement is to be used as you may have to rely on it later. A ‘gentleman’s agreement’ is a poor substitute for a contract or, at least, a ‘letter of intent’. Plannex is happy to work to a recognised building contract such as the FMB Plain English Contract or a JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal) Minor Works Building Contract.
I get on well with a certain builder but why does he seems reluctant to provide references?
Plannex is happy to show you details of other projects our staff have worked on and can provide references. Our clients list is at your disposal upon request in order that you may verify for yourself the exceptional standards that we apply to every project we are entrusted with. We would invite you to contact any of our previous and ongoing customers to assure yourself that in engaging us, you will be dealing with competent builders with a reasonable price.
Do you have insurance - and is it that important?
Building sites can be dangerous places and properties are expensive to replace! So as far as we're concerned, insurance is critical to protect your property - and our workforce. And don't take a builder's word for it - ask to see their current Public Liability, Employers Liability and Contractors All Risks Insurance Certificates. You need reassurance that you will be protected if the worst happens. Plannex carries Product/Public Liability Insurance to the value of £1 million for any one occurrence. We're happy to provide copies on request.
I’ve heard of builders not turning up, sites turning into waste dumps and jobs over-running by months or being left half-finished – how can I avoid it happening to me?
Make sure you and the builders have agreed - in writing - the extent of the work, the completion date, waste disposal arrangements, and their liability and hours of work. Plannex will give you a realistic commencement and completion date, a programme of works, details of when critical decisions are needed, and confirmation of our working hours. All our sites are inspected to ensure that they're safe, tidy and well run.
My builder has asked for 30% of the cost of the work in advance, preferably in cash, to help his cash-flow – is that normal?
Never agree to payments in cash as this could land you in trouble with the VAT department at HM Revenue and Customs. It will also weaken your position if you have problems agreeing the final amount payable, especially if you’ve been denied receipts. If your builder has cash-flow problems at the start of the project, how can you be confident that he or she will still be in business by the end? All payment requests will be to a previously agreed schedule against work actually completed.
My builder says he’s a jack of all trades – that's useful, isn't it?
Anyone can call themselves a builder, irrespective of whether they can do the job or not. It's a good idea to check whether he has any recognised training or, indeed, experience of the work you require. You don't want your project to be used as a training exercise while he works out the best way forward as he goes. Plannex employs skilled tradesmen, including stonemasons, bricklayers, carpenters, decorators and plasterers. In addition, we have a training policy to help young people to gain valuable skills and sponsor apprentices to help them achieve their potential.
Do I have any responsibility to ensure that my builder works safely?
As the client you're classed as the employer and, as such, have a responsibility to ensure that your builder works in a manner that ensures that his workforce and members of the public are not put at risk in any way. Plannex has a detailed Health and Safety Policy that we tailor to each project before we start work. Every site has an Accident Recording Book and we undertake Risk Assessments before we carry out any works of a potentially hazardous nature. In addition, our policies and compliance as well as training our personnel on matters including working at height, first aid, the use of power tools and plant.
How can I be sure that all of the waste from my project is being properly and legally disposed of?
Ask your contractor how his or her company disposes of waste and ask for proof that this will be carried out in a safe and environmentally sustainable way rather than fly-tipping. Plannex not only disposes of all waste in an approved manner but we recycle the vast majority. We're a very environmentally aware company and wherever possible use materials that can be recycled, produce low carbon emissions and are sustainable.
What if I need more information?
Please, feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to assist you.
Plannex Property Management Ltd.
201A, Cumberland House
80 - Scrubs Lane - NW10 6RF