What is the difference between a quote and an estimate?
An estimate is often a rough guess on how much something will cost.
A quotation will give you a fixed price which you have in writing. If you provide a specification and drawings for the work, you can be sure the quotes you receive will be on a like for like basis. Get at least two, preferably three, written quotations from different firms for the job.
Is VAT included?
Ask whether VAT has been included or not. This can often be a nasty shock if not planned for.
What if I want to make a few changes to the plan?
Make sure all changes in the brief are in writing and the new quotation received and approved before work starts.
Do I need planning permission or building regulation approval?
If you live in England or Wales, you will find planning and building regulations guidance for many common building work projects at www.planningportal.gov.uk
Do I have to notify my neighbours?
If the work you are planning affects neighbouring properties, then you will need to speak to them about what you are doing before any work starts, especially if you need a Party Wall Agreement.
Is my chosen company qualified and capable of carrying out the work?
Make sure you check the company’s qualifications and experience of carrying out similar work. Ask to see references from other satisfied customers
How long should the work take and when can they start?
When you accept the quotation, make sure you get start and completion dates, preferably in writing.
Agree on details such as what time they will arrive and leave and if they will come every day until the job is complete.
Do they give any guarantees?
Ask if the work is covered by a guarantee, how long the guarantee lasts and whether it is backed by insurance so that, should the company cease trading, any defects will still be remedied. An insurance-backed warranty is desirable, especially if the job is a big one.
Do they give me confidence?
Think about how a company responds to your enquiry; did they turn up on time, how well did they listen to find out what you need to have done, how carefully did they survey and measure? Ask when you can expect the quotation and check whether it arrives on time.
Pricing and payment
If the quotation from your preferred company seems high, it is worth talking to them. It doesn’t always pay to go for the cheapest quote. You are paying for the experience of your workmen. Discuss options if you need to reduce the price and ask for any revised price and specification in writing.
Never pay the whole amount up front. Always keep a percentage of the cost back until it’s finished and you are happy.
Be careful about who you are paying. Always pay the company doing the work and never the individual person UNLESS the company is owned and run by a single individual.
Make sure your invoices are accurate and that the VAT is itemised separately.
Always get a receipt for every payment you make – getting a receipt is fundamental, without receipts you have no proof of payment
If the work is inside your home, check whether you need to remove any furniture or carpets and curtains. Ask what safeguards will the company make to protect your home.