There are very few of us who have commissioned or appointed either a contractor or artisan in the building or construction trade, who have not been left feeling disappointed in the standard of the workmanship.
It is so sad to think that there are a great many people out there who think that working with a builder, tiler, painter or whoever offers a home improvement service, is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
Sad, because I am convinced that even though there are those artisans who disappoint us, there are an equal number who set a high standard and deliver superb service and product.
All of this was brought to mind during a recent conversation with a friend who is looking to tackle some improvement projects. Here are some of the tips I shared with her:
1. Ask a friend for a recommendation
In the event that you have not managed to establish a good working relationship with a reliable contractor that understands your standard, start by asking your circle of friends if there is someone that they have no qualms in recommending.
2. Interview the potential contractor
If you have to go out “cold calling” so to speak, once you have the name of the contractor and he has eventually pitched up and managed to give you a speedy quote, spend some time getting to know him – interview him as you would a new employee – after all you are going to entrust something of value into his charge.
3. Ask for references
Ask for the names and contact details of no less than three clients that you can reference back to.
4. Given references might be biased
Remember than you will only be given the contact details of those satisfied clients. You ain’t gonna get the names of the unhappy clients. But that’s okay, as long as you…
5. It’s okay to ask about unhappy clients
Stop to ask whether there has been occasion for “disgruntled clients”. If so, would he be able to be honest enough to fill you in with some of those details.
6. Come prepared
Prepare a list of questions / queries that you would like to address with the prospective contractor or references. In terms of the references – you will have a clear path to follow while speaking to them. In terms of the contractor – you will be able to glean whether he understands your brief to him and your particular needs.
7. Ask to see “Before & Afters”
Getting before and after images of past work is also a great help during all this “information gathering” time.
8. Price should NOT be your only deciding factor
Remember that going for the lowest quote does not necessarily guarantee quality of service and product. Holding price out as your only yardstick can be a bit on the dangerous side. There is always a cost to getting value added service. A Merc is not a cheap car and if that is your standard, then cheap ain’t gonna cut it. Should you be able to get a reliable contractor that sets a good standard at a reasonable price – THAT’S FIRST PRIZE!
9. Review, weigh & decide
Once you have done your research, sit down to make that calculated decision. Discuss it with a friend or your other half.
10. Listen to your gut
Remember that your gut feeling should never be negated! It’s a very good measure to include.
OKAY – so this is going to take a lot more effort on your side and it does mean digging deeper with the homework. Yet I feel sure that the net result can leave you confidently empowered and with greater peace of mind. You have taken control of the situation and that attitude can continue throughout the project process. Before the spade hits the ground, or the cement hits the floor, you would have established a comfortable understanding with your contractor.