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A useful checklist for selecting your contractor and starting your building project:
1. Do NOT go for the cheapest!
When embarking on a building project it is wise to select at least three different contractors to quote for your work. Even though as tempting as it seems, do not always go for the cheapest quote. The established building firms who are delivering quality work year on year will price roughly in the same range. If the cost is coming in roughly at the same level and your budget is less – you may not have enough for your project. Either wait until budgets allow or de-scope your project to bring the costs down. NEVER find a builder to fit your budget if it seems tight, there are many firms out there who will work within what ever budget you set them. This often leads to trouble with contractors struggling to finish projects and leaving sites halfway through.
2. Always check the references of the chosen contractor
Unless you have had the contractor recommended by family / friends, make sure you speak to some clients who have used the contractor before and try to visit at least one of the completed projects. This will give you a feel of what it is like working with the contractor. Note: Be very wary of “Open Days” and references where the contractor insists being there. You want the reference to feel free to be open and honest. Here at Simply Loft and Extend we will be pleased to give you the contact details of past clients for you to follow up.
3. Make sure you have an agreed scope set against a clear fixed price with a contract
When looking through your quotations, there should not be any provisional sums, to be confirmed later. On some occasions there are items that no one will know until the work has started. Ask the contractor to share how they price these items i.e. price per SQM etc. Then make sure you make a provision within your budget. Here at Simply Loft and Extend we have a straightforward contract and T&Cs. The contract shows our fixed price and we have a detailed Client Specification document showing what we are doing for that price.
4. Choose a Design & Build Contractor
To make life easier, choose a building contractor who can manage the whole design and build process for you. At Simply Loft and Extend we pride ourselves on having an all in one service for both loft conversions and extensions. We use our in house architects to draw up professional plans, manage any planning permission and then hand the project over to our Simply construction team to deliver.
5. Choose a builder with insurance and guarantees!
Make sure you appoint a builder with appropriate guarantees and insurance in place. The builder should have three important elements to their insurance:
1) Employers Liability
2) Public / Products Liability
3) Contractors ALL Risk
The first two elements are typically what builders have when they say they are fully insured. These items only insure against people and items – not your actual house and the physical area they are working. The third item is the most expensive one to have (the reason why most don’t have it!) and is the one you should make sure your builder has. Here at Simply Loft and Extend we have all three elements. Also we are so confident and proud of the quality of our work, that we offer a 10 year guarantee for all projects we carry out. On top of this, we also offer an independent backed insurance policy.
Once the contractor is chosen, there are a few things to remember:
• Organise your party wall agreement
If your home has a wall that is connected to another property on either side, then you will need to arrange a party wall agreement before the work begins. Each neighbour has to be informed of the proposed works using a party wall notice form at least two calendar months before the start of the build, so it pays to be organised! Simply Loft and Extend are able to provide advice on this process and if necessary put you in touch with one of our certified party wall surveyors.
• Thames Build Over Agreement (Extensions Only)
On most occasions an extension will be built over or near a manhole. If this manhole connects with your neighbours then it belongs to Thames Water and you will need permission to connect to it, move it or build over it. Here at Simply Extend we can manage this process at your request.
• Try to move out
There’s no denying that building work can be disruptive and noisy at times! If you select the Simply Construction team, they will try their hardest to keep noise and mess to a minimum but if you simply need to move out, then now is the time to call on friends and family to see if you can stay with them or in rented accommodation for any given period. If it is impossible to move out for the entire build, then pick a week or two when the heaviest work is being done. Your Simply Project Manager will be able to advise. Finally, for families with small children try to arrange extra play dates with friends and family away from the home.
• Temporary facilities
If it is likely that your kitchen will need to be removed, ask your Simply advisor to add the set up of a temporary kitchen into your project specification.
• Protect your furniture
Throughout the build, there may be times when your home can get very dusty. Make sure you cover any furniture with dust sheets, and shut doors wherever you can to stop the dust from entering. Pack away any items not being used to prevent them from being damaged. For extra protection you can request your Simply team to put up temporary stud partitions to block out any work being done to your home.
• Keep passage ways clear
During the building work, materials for your new space will be coming in and any waste will need to go out. To make this less disruptive and to ensure no damage is done to other parts of your home, make as much of a clear passage as you can to the site where the building work is taking place.
• Keep communication open
Throughout the build its important to ensure that communication is kept open. At Simply Loft and Extend, you will receive the service of a designated Project Manager. Use weekly meetings with them to review progress and iron out any important areas you need to cover. Simply also have a dedicated hotline and Customer Service team who will always answer the phone if you cannot get through to your Project Manager. They will chase up any issues on your behalf and make sure you always know that someone within the Simply Team has listened and is dealing with your request.
We also have our innovative online Simply Dashboard designed to help you manage all aspects of the project. These include automatically informing you where you are in the design process using our Simply Time Line. Allowing you to manage all aspects associated with the projects budget and even producing your snag list at the end of the project. This system cuts out any of the normal misunderstanding associated with the domestic building trade and ensures everyone is well informed about what has been agreed.
• Write a detailed snag list
As you near the end of your project, make sure you write a detailed and comprehensive list of any snagging that needs to be completed such as small touch ups to paint work etc. Checking and writing everything in one list ensures that a team can be dispatched straight away to deal with any minor repairs needed, allowing you to enjoy your space as quickly as possible! With Simply Loft and Simply Extend we offer an online snagging list through our dashboard system. Once a client completes this online, it is automatically sent to their Project Manager. The client presses the complete button when each item is finished and only once all the buttons are pressed, will the system request final payment.