When you come to tackle your renovation project you will need to call upon the services of builders, plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen. If you are planning to undertake a large project, and / or have enough spare cash, it may be worth employing a project manager to oversee them. If not, you will need to source them yourself.

You may have heard the phrase “cowboy builders”. These are unfortunately a reality, and there are many builders who make dishonest livings exploiting the relative ignorance of their clients by charging large sums of money for poor / substandard work. Some will leave the site mid-job never to return.

It is possible to minimize the risk of this by following a few simple guidelines:
Ask friends and family for recommendations
Avoid tradesmen who are able to start the next day – good tradesmen are invariably busy
Ask tradesmen for references from their previous jobs, and preferably go and see the standard of work they have done if appropriate
Source at least 3 quotations for the work to be done. Don’t always go for the cheapest
Don’t agree to pay them all the cash up front. Pay them in installments. Keep at least 10% in reserve for snagging
Consider a written contract for larger jobs. Also seek an insurance indemnity / warranty
You should avoid paying them in cash (they will be cheating the VAT man so you will be an accessory to fraud)
Use trade association members. They are more expensive, but then you always have the trade association to fall back on if things go wrong
Keep the lines of communication open. If things start going awry, address the issues as soon as possible rather than hoping for the best
Be reasonable. Keep a close eye on the work on a daily basis, but don’t stand over them as they are working, they will find that very off-putting.
By all means make them cups of tea every now and then, but do not pander to their every request or they may take advantage
Remember that this is a business relationship. Be civil to them, but you are unlikely to end up being their best mate.