How do you choose someone to carry out carpentry on your home?

publication date: Feb 16, 2015
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

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How to choose a carpenter...

Carpentry always looks very easy to do, putting up a few shelves, but my word you can get yourself into all sorts of trouble – especially if you haven’t done it before! Many a time before I realise you had to check what you wanted to drill through first and choose the right type of fixings I have made a real mess of perfectly good walls!

For me, there are times these days when yes, I could do it myself, but to be honest, I just haven’t the time and if it’s detailed measuring like a carpenter requires, it’s really not too good for me to get the job done as I’m not particularly good with a saw!

So for small jobs, yes give them a go, but do your research first but if it is things like creating fitted wardrobes, fixing a kitchen which will need wiring and plumbing too or attempting jobs like a full loft conversion, I’d rather get someone in and make sure it was done properly so it lasted rather than try to do it myself. This is especially the case when you have full time jobs. Unless you are going to take off a few weeks to get big jobs done, it may just be a lot quicker and easier to make sure someone else does it all for you – to your specification – leaving you to get on with your work and day to day life.

Read our Choosing a Carpenter Checklist

What exactly do you want?
A great way to really communicate with everyone in the house/family of what you want and then brief the carpenter is by using pictures off the internet, from magazines or pictures of other people’s homes you like!

I normally do this and then sit down to work out what it will cost with a professional to help me – using the best materials I can buy to avoid having to re-do the job a few years later.

How do you choose a carpenter?
When you know what you want, it’s worth thinking through the budget to weigh up the cost of you doing the work versus a professional. Of course it is possible to save money doing everything yourself, but it can take ages to get it done and some jobs I have started which should have taken weeks have taken years, just because my ‘life’ got in the way! You or family can get sick or your job suddenly changes so just don’t have the time to spend on the property project.

Always make sure you choose someone from: the Institute of Carpenters. The IoC.

You can you use their search facility - Find a Carpenter

Any quote should include a detailed breakdown of labour and costs.

Anyone asking you to pay the full amount upfront – run - the good guys ask you to pay in arrears of work being carried out to your satisfaction.

Read our Choosing a Carpenter Checklist

Do though find out about any guarantees they off and how long they last for, as well as making sure your carpenter is covered by his/her own insurance, including public liability insurance should something go wrong during the job.

If it’s a big project such as a bespoke kitchen or conversion, it’s really worth asking to see previous work at recent clients’ homes. It may take a couple of hours out of your day, but it will give you huge peace of mind to see previous work done to a good standard, and to talk to previous customers too if you can.

When you’ve made up your mind, confirm acceptance of a quote in writing, and add any agreements you might have made during discussions about what you want done, so that the scope of the work is clear and unambiguous. It’s also good to do this if any changes are necessary along the way – put your instructions to make changes in writing and get a price in writing beforehand. For more costly projects and anything that involves structural alternations, it is also worth thinking about entering into a formal contract. The IoC can help you with this.

Read our Choosing a Carpenter Checklist

You will need to have a chat about what you need to do before work starts. This could mean clearing bookshelves, getting everything out of the loft, taking up existing flooring, clearing cupboards, and so on. It’s not unusual to forget that if you’re fitting new carpets or floorboards, you might have to have your doors re-sized so they don’t stick! It’s definitely worth agreeing who’s going to clear up after the work has been done, although a decent tradesman or tradeswoman will generally do that as a matter of course – to varying degrees! If you or any family member has a dust allergy or is asthmatic, make that very clear at the start so that dust is kept to a minimum.

Finally – and of course it may not happen! – if you have any queries about the work as it progresses, never let a problem rankle without approaching your carpenter about it. It’s best to sort it out straight away and on the spot, while it’s still relatively simple to rectify. In the worst case, if it gets to the stage where you have a dispute that you can’t solve between you, contact us – we are always able to help.

Take a look at some of our other home renovation checklists:

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