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Home repairs and improvements

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.

This guide was produced in conjunction with the Office of Fair Trading

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
  • If you have adjoining or shared walls give your neighbours a

     Party Wall Notice. See our advice guide Do I need a Party Wall Agreement?

  • If your home is listed or you live in a conservation area, check with your Local Authority if there are 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 final cost
  • 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.
  • A cooling off period may apply if you take out credit. This is a set period of time from when the credit agreement was agreed, during which you have the right to cancel
  • 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
  • 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

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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  1. Hi Bruce,

    Thanks so much for your feedback and glad you found it useful!
    Have you considered joining us as a member? This would entitle you to access a host of property related information, services, advice, a legal support service and a discount on conveyancing.
    Joining is easy and only costs £45 for the year. Sign up easily here.

    Kind regards,

    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — August 24, 2016 @ 11:39 am

  2. Awesome article. Your useful tips help me a lot, I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing & have a nice day!

    Comment by Bruce Rivers — August 19, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  3. Thanks for such a useful article about home improvement. I’ll refer to it next time I plan to improve my home. My budget & energy is limited, so I wanna make the best of out my money & effort

    Comment by Brian — March 30, 2016 @ 2:15 pm

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