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How to work well with Tradespeople



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 building work up to, or on the party wall with your neighbour – download this useful Government booklet on the Party Wall Act.

For more information see, 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

Teignbridge Planning work as part of Devon Building Control – a partnership which also covers South Hams and West Devon.

2. Use a recommended tradesperson 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:

Link to Devon County Council Trading Standards - prosecutions in the last 6 months.

Follow this link for February 2010 news item about a Newton Abbot 'cowboy builder' found guilty by Devon Trading Standards (links to 'This is South Devon').