The Self Build Self Help Site Hiring Contractors
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Contractors will vary in their level of skill and, indeed, on their approach to a job. On a general note, if you are able, see how the contractor looks after his/her tools - a well ordered van, and looked after tools is indicative of a professional approach. When hiring contractors there are a few good practices that you should ask contractors about - and insist on them doing. These are outlined in the following sections.

Electricians

The key concern here is that with Part P of the Building Regulations, all new electrical work has to be approved by a certified person. This means that, unless the work is of a minor nature, such as changing a socket, any electrical work is to be undertaken by a Competent Person (an individual or a company authorised to self-certify compliance on completion of the work).

If you can take the opportunity to see the 1st fix work of an electrician then you may be able to get an idea of her work - the wiring should be neat and tidy, even though it will ultimately be hidden. If you can see the work of prospective electricians at other sites, during first fix where the wiring will be in view, then that may give an insight. After second fix, wiring will still be in view in the loft, but not quite so easy to nose around other people's lofts!

Some neat examples of wiring are shown here

Be there when the electrician first starts - he will need to know where to locate all power, telephone, TV points , light switches, light fittings, external lights etc etc. Even if some of these are noted on the architects plans, there is nothing like being in the rooms to be able to visualise and determine the best positions. Consider these in advance.

Some points to consider are: The advice from Government concerning electricians is at the DirectGov site.

Plumbers

Make sure you get a person/company that is Gas Safe registered. In the UK it is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out domestic and commercial work to be registered with the Gas Safe Register and to comply with the relevant gas requirements.

You can find registered plumbers via the Gas Safe Register websire

Ensure that you take on a plumber that carries out a pressure test once the first fix is complete. This is vital - however good the plumber is, mistakes can be made. The next opportunity to find out if there is a leak is after 2nd fix - and then the plumbing will be behind plaster board and beneath flooring etc - and costly to rectify.



photo of copper pipes

Some plumbers will bend pipes rather than use joints in places where they will be very inaccessible - such as under units under kitchen floors. This isn't a vital requirement but is an indicator of a plumber who is taking things seriously.

The advice from Government concerning plumbers is at the DirectGov Government web site - choosing traders & service providers






Painters & Decorators

Information on choosing a good painting contractor can be found on the House Painting Guide (see this site for painting information for the do-it-yourself homeowner with detailed instructions and helpful tips. Topics include interior and exterior surface preparation, interior and exterior house painting techniques, drywall repair instructions, wood refinishing, wood deck refinishing and staining, choosing the best painting tools and paint colors.)
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