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How we find the best builders to work on behalf of our landlords in West London

Mark Francis - Thursday, June 09, 2016

In this article I’ll show you the criteria I use to ensure my landlords choose the best builders to carry out any necessary work on their rental properties saving them time, hassle and often money.

Dodgy builders. We’ve all heard stories about them, may have even experienced them first hand (I know we have) and many landlords dread having to find a reputable one.

The good news is it’s possible to find some brilliant, conscientious and professional builders and trades people.

During the 28 years I’ve been a letting agent I’ve encountered some really shoddy service from people called in to do repairs or refurbishments on properties we’ve managed.

One example was going back 10 or so years when a landlord refurbished a property but made the classic (and common) mistake of going with the cheapest quote.

It was a nightmare that still goes on to this day. Originally it was obvious that the builder had done a terrible job. Sloppy painting, kitchen cupboard doors that wouldn’t close, laminate floors with large gaps at the edges where they met the wall and much, much more besides.

Over the years repairing and making good the initial poor workmanship has cost the landlord a lot more than the ‘cheap quote’ and has brought them and their tenants a lot of stress.

Since 1988 I’ve slowly but consistently built up a circle of trusted traders and builders.

A good contractor is worth their weight in gold to me and here is some of the criteria I use to select them.

I spend hours scouring review sites, getting referrals from industry professionals, discussion forums (like ChiswickW4.com) and then, having shortlisted a few, I make contact and "sound them out".

Then - and only then - will I decide which ones are likely to be suitable. Thereafter, they will be trialled, and I will take full responsibility (including financial responsibility) for the outcome.

Obviously it helps that I’ve spent decades in the business and a lot of the good local companies are already on my radar.

I don't charge them any commission/introductory fee; all I ask/expect/demand from them is quality work and service and that they adhere to the six fundamental steps below.

1. All work is carried out to a very high standard, in a polite, tidy and courteous manner.

2. Tenants are contacted promptly once a job has been raised to liaise a realistic timescale for attendance and completion.

3. A sensibly priced invoice is submitted to me within seven days of completion of the work.

4. I have assurance that in the event of any problems the contractor will return very quickly to resolve them (hardly ever necessary, but good when it is).

5. I must be able to get hold of them quickly and easily at all times.

6. A copy of their Public Liability insurance is provided to me each year.

Thankfully, over the years I have forged very good relationships with many excellent contractors and service providers. This benefits not only me, but my landlords and tenants too.

But good builders are always in demand and can often be booked up months in advance. By maintaining good relationships with them I’m often in a position to get preferential treatment when it comes to booking jobs in quickly for my clients.

How? Well I see all relationships as a two way street. And here’s another set of criteria I apply to my dealings with builders and trades people.

1. Pay them once a month, on time. No excuses, no delays, no nonsense. (They really appreciate this.)

2. Provide them with full and detailed information about the nature of the job, along with photographs where available. Also full information about who the tenants are and how they can be reached. (Most contractors tell me they really appreciate this too.)

3. Provide them with my personal mobile number, so that they know they can reach me whenever they need to.

This approach has meant we now have a team of different trades, services and professions who I’m 100 per cent confident in.

I always advise my landlords to avoid ‘cheap’ builders as more often than not the price reflects the quality of work.

Which leaves me to finish with a quote: “No one ever complained about buying quality.”

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions whatsoever please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mark


 


 

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