While DIY can save you money, home maintenance and improvements are best carried out by competent and experienced tradespeople. Having chosen your company from a Government-approved Competent Person Scheme (CPS) Provider for Building Regulations in England and Wales, you will of course be thinking about how much your maintenance work is going to cost.
Read my article: Choosing a reputable company to carry out work on your home
Get three quotes for work – if you can!
It’s always good practice to get three quotes for any work you plan to have carried out on your property. This will give you some feel for a realistic price for the job. Be wary of going for the cheapest option – the service offered may have corners cut to reflect the low price being paid, leading to problems in the longer term. It’s also a good idea to agree on a price, and likely duration of the work you’re having done, in contract form before the work actually starts.
VAT, tax and ‘cash in hand’
We do all love a bargain, but paying a bill which doesn’t have VAT on it, or is cash in hand so the person doesn’t pay tax to the government, can be a recipe for disaster. Some traders don’t charge VAT as they don’t have to, but check with them why they aren’t VAT registered.
Personally, I’d prefer to pay more for a job that I know is to a legitmate company that is paying tax than one who may do it ‘for cash’ but then run off or do a bad job. This means you have little you can do to complain against them and probably won’t have any details to track them down for a refund either.
Competent, professional and qualified tradespeople are likely to give you a fair quote
Sure you can always get things ‘on the cheap’, but home maintenance isn’t something to cut corners on. It’s not like buying cheap clothes or shows you can throw away after a few weeks, maintenance should last you years.
If you use the right tradespeople who are qualified the reason they are in business is they always give a fair quote for the job, and then leave it to you to make up your mind whether to accept it or not.
Some don’t like you querying their prices, but again if they don’t like that and your opinion about a job differs, they may dig their heels in over that too, so aren’t worth using.
What prices should you be seeing in the quote?
However, here are a few points to consider when selecting your company:
Prices may vary depending on the scale of the work, and also how much skill is required to carry it out to your satisfaction.
You will pay higher rates in the evenings and at weekends, to the tune of 20-50% more. If the job’s not urgent, call them in during normal business hours.
Throughout the industry, many companies operate on a minimum charge of one hour. If it’s a small job, you can save money by looking out for people who charge half-hourly, or even quarter-hourly, thereafter.
If the person you’ve called in completes the job in less than an hour, do ask them for advice or help on other jobs. You’ve paid for their time so they should be happy to advise you in the remaining time they didn’t need.
As a general guide, the average price you can expect to pay for an hour’s labour is:
Plumbing: £80 to £90 plus VAT
Electrical: £70 to £90 plus VAT
Central heating repair and maintenance: £80 to £110 plus VAT
Experience can save you money in the long run!
Aside from regional variations, the cost of your job will also depend on how long the engineer, plumber or electrician remains at your property to carry out the work. So it’s clearly in your interests to choose someone who is experienced and may have carried out this type of job before. S/he will complete the job faster, and with less fuss, than a more inexperienced tradesperson, meaning the job is likely to be completed within the first hour, saving you charges for additional hours or part-hours. Reputable companies will generally give you a quote for the job beforehand if you give a clear indication of the work you need to have done, and offer a guarantee period.
Checkout our checklist on 'Maintaining a Property' provided to us by the guys at Aspect, as well as a selection of our other FREE property checklists:-