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Tips and Advice on Home repairs and improvements

 It may be cold and dark right now, but as we brave the rest of winter, we can start to dream of what's to come in Spring and Summer. Now is the time to start thinking about any home improvements that you may want to achieve in spring ready to enjoy in summer....

Home improvements can transform and add value to your home but it is easy for costs to escalate and projects to go wrong. The Homeowners Alliance step-by-step guide can help you do home improvements and repairs the right way....


Before work starts

Don’t forget to contact your Local Authority Planning and Building Control Departments if you are doing significant works.  Read more about whether or not you need planning permission or take a quick glance at our virtual planning permission tool

If you are doing a project which impacts adjoining or shared walls with your neighbours you may need to issue a Party Wall Notice. See our advice guide Do I need a Party Wall Agreement?

If you are doing a project which makes significant structural changes you may need the help of a structural engineer to enable you to obtain Building Control Approval. See our guide Do I need a Structural Engineer?

If your home is listed or you live in a Conservation Area, check with your Local Authority for any restrictions on what changes you can make


Budgeting, quotes and specifications

Make a detailed list of everything you would like to have included, this will help when you ask for quotations

Compare quotes item by item and not just by the overall cost of the job

Check that VAT is included in the costs you are quoted

Set aside some money for unexpected problems – rule of thumb is 10% of total cost

If you are thinking about taking out a loan or using another form of credit to pay for the work, consider the full cost of the credit including the interest.  Read our guide on how to finance your home improvement project.  It may also be a good time to consider remortgaging as a way of freeing up funds.

Include costs for labour and parts in your overall budget

When purchasing items shop around and check online

Agree who will purchase items and be responsible for making sure they arrive on time

Clarify at the start what marks the end of the project and make a note of this


Finding a trader

Carry out checks to find a good trader – this will stop most problems straight away. Take a look at how to find the best tradesman for the job

Find your tradesman by using our Find a Tradesman search tool. Or ask friends and family for recommendations

Check online for websites with a feedback option to rate traders, but be wary of relying completely on the reports. Our guide outlines how the online tradesman review sites work and what to watch for

If you are doing major structural works and your builder requires technical drawings, you can get quotes from Structural Engineers here

Be clear about whether you need building regulations certificates for any of the work you are doing, for example electrical, windows and water

Be prepared, look for a trader well in advance of when you would like the project to start

Be careful about using anyone who comes to your door cold calling


Contractual information

Produce a list or specification of what work you would like to have done

Obtain written quotations and ask for them to be broken down so that you can see the price of work and materials for each item

Discuss delays, who is responsible if there are delays and who pays

Discuss and clarify house rules for example no smoking in the house, or no muddy boots

Check if you will be given a timetable for the work

Agree how payments will be made

Check if there any health and safety aspects you need to be aware of

Agree a single point of contact for the project

If you are contracting a builder, take a look at RIBAs domestic building contracts


During work

Have regular on site meetings

Raise any issues as they arise, don’t wait for the end of the project

Check that you are actually paying for the work that has been completed

Check that your local authority Building Control Department has signed off key stages of the work, if they are required to


Finishing work

Clarify what you would consider to be the end of the project. Make this clear at the very start and put this in writing so everyone knows

Be clear about when you will be required to make the final payment and what it covers

Remember that you are entitled to withhold a reasonable amount of money to ensure problems are put right


Tidying up and snagging

Have a clear idea of when the final payment is due

You have a right to withhold a reasonable amount of money if work has not been done to satisfactory quality

Keep a running list of items that are outstanding to form your snag list

You can get advice about your rights and how to deal with the trader if they appear reluctant to talk to you from Citizens Advice


Post completion

Have the correct forwarding details for your trader

Make sure that you have paperwork for items purchased by the trader and certificates for work, instructions and warranties


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