Finding the right people to work with is going to make your life in property development so much easier. When looking at who to hire you’ll be tempted to look for the cheapest quote. Trust me this is a false economy. If a tradesman is desperate for work he’ll quote anything to keep busy but as soon as another opportunity comes along you’re job is put on hold adn you’ll spend the rest of project trying to track him down.
Finding a Tradesman
There are plenty of websites offering directories of tradesmen. Some offer the sort of transparency that can really benefit some looking to build a team they can use in the future. Try the following:
Check a trade offers a good service for anyone looking to find a tradesman. I believe they are slightly cheaper for builders to subscribe to so you tend to get alot of the smaller independants, which is a good thing if you’re looking for sub contractors. All their previous cusotmers are invited to comment on their work so you get a clear idea of what they’re like.
Rated People offers a similar service but seems to have deeper pockets that it’s main competitor and advertises nationally, which means the trade subscribers pay for it. So the trademen that work with me tend to prefer Check a trade. That said I’ve used Rated people a lot and the previous customer comments are very handy. You can select 3 people to quote for your job.
Judging your knowledge
In my experience, dealing with tradesmen is fairly straightforward if they clearly understand what is expected of them. Don’t even think about asking for a quote until you have plans and supporting statement of works documents that you can discuss. These documents do 3 things:
- They demonstrate you know what you want – A tradesman will test you to find out your level of understanding. If you haven’t got a clue, they’ll know that they can put in a higher figure.
- There’s no room for uncertainty - If you’re not happy with the work carried out you’ll need to demonstrate (mayby in a court) why not. If you hand over plans and a statement of work listing all the jobs a tradesman is expected to do you’ll have concrete proof they have not delivered to your requirements. Don’t ever rely on a chat even if the job is small especially if you’re working with someone you’ve never dealt with before.
- There give you the ability to compare quotes - As a general rule of thumb in your first development it’s a good idea to get three quotes whether you go down the main contractor or the sub contractor route. If you have professionally designed plans and a statement of work you’ll be able to compare quotes alot easier. Always ask a tradesmen how you want the quote to be prepared, as line by line item or labour and materials. Keep in mind if the work is small a tradesman might just give you a single price.
Always pay a fair price.
You won’t get far by beating tradesmen into the ground for the reasons I’ve mentioned. You also want to get a job done as quickly as possible ( less time paying a mortgage) so I would always recommend opting for a middle ground quote – trust me, I’ve gone for the cheapest and it’s ended up costing me!
Always agree a delivery date and payment terms.When asking for a quote always ask for a completion date. When deadlines are tight I’ve sometime introduced a completion date Bonus if they complete the work before the agreed time. In addition to this I’ve also asked for a second price if the work is delayed. This way your tradesman is incentives to complete to time and not take on other work.
At the time of negotiating you’ll need to agree payment terms, this should be part of your ‘statement of work’ document. It’s normal for small jobs to be paid on completion, however when you’re working to a statement of work or project plan it’s more usual to agree stage payment’s , either on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s important to note that these payment should be in line with completed works within the statement of work.
Should I get a contract?
Contracts are essential if you are gonig down the main contractor route. A contract will refere to your statement of work and payment schedule and make any conversation and agreements you have legally binding. A contract will protect both parties during the project and it just mean you don’t have to have any awkward conversations about work or payment. And if a builder is unhappy to sign one they you know your relationship is not ment to be. The federation of master builders offer a free contract download you can access it here.