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Carrying out home improvement projects

Around the house it is good to have basic maintenance skills. A bit of DIY never hurt anyone, and being able to perform small jobs yourself will save you the trouble of hiring a tradesman with a minimum callout cost. However, as things become more technical it is best to start looking for a professional. Qualified and experienced tradesmen can get a job done faster, with minimal disruption and to a higher quality, while badly done DIY jobs can end up costing a lot of money to fix.

When looking for tradesmen for a home improvement project it is important to collect several quotes from tradesmen you know are high quality. Finding these potential hires on your own can be long and tedious, especially if you do not know what to look for, but you can save yourself a great deal of hassle by using Plentific. The Plentific website hosts information on over 75,000 registered tradesmen from across the UK and can quickly generate a bespoke contact list for you showing options in your local area. Each of these tradesmen have Plentific profiles with all of their qualifications, past jobs and customer reviews listed to help you investigate and compare them. The Plentific Guarantee, which can cover your entire project, will also be available if you choose a verified tradesman.

What do I need to know about home improvement projects?

Whatever your home improvement project might be, the first thing you need to think about is its purpose. What do you need the improvement for, and who will be using it? Is the project supposed to improve your standard of living, or do you just want to raise the value of your house? As an example, there are different things to consider if you are remodelling a bedroom for a child than for a married couple. One you are sure of what you need, you can start to think of what you want in terms of designs and materials.

It is a good idea to look for inspiration when it comes to home improvement projects. There are thousands of examples for almost any kind of project that you can view online. Alternatively you may want to visit a showroom or see about viewing other houses in your area. You can also consult with tradesmen to get a better idea of your options. Having a firm budget in place helps here, as the tradesman or specialist you are speaking to will frame their advice around it. You could even pay for a consultation with a designer; A single paid session can be very informative.

If a tradesman offers a price that is far below the average, or if they offer you a discount for paying in cash, they are one to avoid.

Hiring tradesmen for a home improvement project

When it comes to actually hiring tradesmen for a project there are a few strict rules to follow. Firstly, collect several quotes to compare. This is your best assurance of getting a competitive price, and also a good way to spot cowboy builders. If a tradesman offers a price that is far below the average, or if they offer you a discount for paying in cash, they are one to avoid.

Secondly, check a tradesman’s qualifications and experience before hiring them. Have they completed the appropriate qualifications to practice their trade? Have they worked on projects similar to yours in the past? Do they have positive reviews from their previous clients? A tradesman who cannot or is hesitant to provide this kind of information is not worth considering. A good sign of a tradesman’s quality is if they belong to a national trade organisation like the Guild of Master Craftsmen. Groups like these have very high standards for entry, and members are regulated for their quality of work and professionalism.

Thirdly, always make sure that your tradesman has the right insurance. Home improvement work can be disruptive and dangerous, and it is better to be prepared for any potential incidents. To protect your investment and your home, ensure that your tradesmen have active Public Liability Insurance, and that they take all appropriate safety precautions for their work. If you hire a tradesman to advise on your project, such as an architectural designer or a structural engineer, they should also have Professional Indemnity Insurance, in case their advice ends up costing you down the line.

Finally, get everything in writing. If you don’t, your tradesman will not be legally obligated to provide the things they promised you. This can include honouring warranties or even completing a project on time. In the event that you need to hold your tradesman accountable for something, having a verbal agreement in place of a solid contract can really limit your legal options.

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Planning permission

Before you can begin a home improvement project you will need to find out what kind of planning permissions you require. Typically, if you are altering the structure of your property, like you would with an extension, you will need planning permission. In this case you will usually need a solid plan in place, as well as the go-ahead from a structural engineer.

Several projects fall under the scope of ‘permitted development’, but you should not take this for granted. Different local authorities are often more strict or lenient for certain projects. You can find out exactly what you need by contacting your local planning authority. If you fail to get the appropriate permissions for your project it can be forcibly stopped until you do. You could even be ordered to undo any completed work.

How much do home improvement projects cost?

In order to get a good price for your home improvement project it is important not to rely too much on national averages. Prices can vary considerably depending on where you live in the UK, with the cost of projects in London often being 10 or even 20% higher than elsewhere. National averages also often do not take bespoke information into account. Your costs will depend on the jobs that need doing, the size of area of the job (such as the amount of space in a bedroom that is to be painted) and the level of specialisation and danger involved. A lot of the time jobs will simply come down to the cost of labour and materials.

At the start of your project it is important to have a firm budget in place. It can be easy to overspend if you are not careful. Remember that tradesman can offer valuable advice here, and should be able to help you choose options for your that are well within your budget.

When you are given a quote for a project, always ask for a price breakdown. Part of this is to see if your tradesman is charging you for VAT. If this is the case, ask for their VAT number and check that it is authentic. The breakdown should list the jobs that a tradesman will do for your project; you may find that there are certain tasks you can do yourself to save money. Typically these include waste disposal, clearing a room or even working as a labourer while the tradesman works on more specialist tasks.

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