1. Before work begins – check legal requirements
Building regulations approval is usually required for internal work like removing a wall or converting a garage. Note that Building Regulations and Planning Permission are totally separate – not requiring one does not mean you do not need the other!
If you decide to sell your house in the future, your buyer’s solicitor will ask for a copy of all Building Regulations and Planning consents. If you don’t have these, it could hold up or even stop the sale of your house.
Many changes to your electrical wiring installations require approval under Part P. This includes all work in kitchens, bathrooms and outdoors. An electrician registered for Part P will be able to self-certify the work without the need for a Building Control application. Building regulations will apply if you want to install or move a gas boiler unless you use a GASsafe registered installer who can self-certify. [GASsafe replaced CORGI in April 2009]. Similarly, installing replacement windows and doors requires an application unless your installer is registered with FENSA.
Renovating a thermal element now requires approval and you will be required to upgrade the thermal efficiency of the part of the building you are working on. For example, replacing roof tiles will require additional roof insulation, and re-rendering an outside wall may require additional wall insulation.
For more information see www.planningportal.gov.uk, or use the following phone numbers:
|City / District Council||Building Control Hotline||Planning|
|Exeter||01392 265167||01392 265223|
|Mid Devon||01884 234345||01884 234260|
|Teignbridge (East)||01626 215793||01626 215734|
|Teignbridge (West)||01626 215793||01626 215743|
|Torbay||01803 208095||01803 207801|
|East Devon||01395 517482||01395 516551|
2. Use a recommended tradesperson
OurLocalExpert.co.uk is based entirely on local recommendations. You can also ask neighbours and local friends for recommendations. Avoid people who come to your door asking to perform work.
Ask to see your chosen tradesperson’s Public Liability Insurance (and check the expiry date). This should be up to at least £500,000. Ask if they have done any work locally that you could visit.
3. Get a written quotation, on headed paper (as opposed to an ‘estimate’)
Cheaper is not necessarily better, especially if it means you will need the work to be done again in a few years time. Check if VAT is included, and if there is a call-out charge.
Check if any guarantees are insurance-backed (in case the business should fold).
4. Agree written contract
Agree a written scope of work, based on the quotation you choose. Ensure it details all the work required, including the removal of earth and waste materials if applicable. Ensure that the contract estimates the time taken, and agrees all staged payments in advance.
Try to agree your first payment to coincide with materials delivered on site, and agree your final stage payment at the point you are happy to sign off the completed work.
5. Budget 15% over the quoted price
This will allow for unforeseen problems, or any extra work that you may require mid-way through the project.
6. Agree changes with project manager
For large projects, any changes made by you or the contractor should be detailed in writing. Agree these with the project manager, and not one of the staff.
7. Ask for a receipt when paying
Be sure you can track all payments and always ask for a receipt if paying cash. No paperwork means no guarantee.
8. Who to contact should a problem arise
If your work fails to meet your expectations and you are not happy with the response from your chosen tradesperson, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0845 040506), or take independent legal advice from a solicitor or your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
East Devon Citizen’s Advice Bureau: 01404 44213,
Exeter Citizen’s Advice Bureau: 0844 4994101.
Further links and articles: