How to Choose a Home Improvement Company

Choosing a builder is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning a home renovation. It’s no exaggeration to say it can make the difference between dream home and nightmare. Fortunately, while there’s no shortage of cowboys out there, there are plenty of reputable home improvement companies too. The trick is knowing what to look for.   

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How to Choose a Home Improvement Company

When choosing a home improvement company, first make sure they are legit and well-established. Rating sites are a good place to start, especially if they verify identity, credentials and references. As an example, traders have to pass a thorough verification process to be listed in Which? consumer magazine’s Trusted Traders directory. Other sites may not go this far, but online reviews are still a great way to check people out. Look for top ratings and reviews that mention things like competitive quotes, high-quality work, professionalism, trustworthiness and good advice and communication. Ask around among friends and family as well. 

How to Choose a Home Improvement Company

1. Ask about their experience 

Once you’ve selected a few home improvement companies to approach, the first step is to find out about their previous experience. Don’t feel embarrassed about this; a genuine, well-established professional should have tackled a range of home renovation projects and be happy to talk you through them. 

Ask about what type of work they have done, whether they have experience with complex renovations and structural work and if they specialise in anything in particular. If so, they should be expert at it by now, which is a good sign. 

Ask to see some of their previous work in the flesh if possible, or photos if not.    

2. Ask about prices 

Home renovation prices vary a lot so it’s worth shopping around and making an appointment with a few home improvement companies to discuss your project. A good professional will always want to visit the house and discuss your needs before providing an exact quote. 

A home renovation is a big investment so it’s tempting to go for the lowest possible price. However, remember the old saying ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ Some unscrupulous builders will undercut everybody else to get the job, but then run up surprise charges throughout until it ends up costing you the same. Or worse, they may cut corners to save money. 

3. Ask if you will have a project manager 

This dedicated professional is responsible for planning, scheduling and overseeing your home renovation from start to finish. They’re in charge of making sure everything gets done on time, managing the site, ordering materials, hiring workers, deal with insurances and permissions, etc. etc. They are also your go-to person throughout and will keep you informed of progress and any issues that arise. We always work with a home renovation project manager as it’s more efficient and a lot easier for our customers than having to organise everything themselves.

How to Choose a Home Improvement Company

4. Ask about professional insurances 

Anyone you hire must also have the right insurances to cover the work and everyone on the site. This includes you if you’re living in the house during the renovation. A lot of builders only have basic insurance or public liability but this doesn’t cover all types of home renovations. For example, complex jobs and structural work like installing steel supporting beams require comprehensive insurance. Otherwise, if anything goes wrong you won’t be covered. 

5. Check they understand regulations

Any home improvement company that has tackled a range of jobs should know which projects require Planning Permission and which come under Permitted Development Rights (PDRs). They should be able to tell you what applies to your home renovation, as well as how and when to apply for planning permission if you need it. Better still, they may handle it for you as part of the service. 

They should also be able to explain Party Wall Agreements, Build Over Permissions, Fire Regulations and Building Control Regulations and ensure their work is done to the correct standards. 

Even if you don’t need planning permission, home renovations must still meet with Building Control approval. Look for someone who can either liaise with inspectors or self-certify their work under the Competent Person Scheme, which saves you the inspection fees. 

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