References for building work - what should I ask?
A good contractor should always be happy to supply references for their previous work. But don’t accept these references on face value: make a call and have a few questions ready to ask – you don’t just need to see photos of a finished project. Ask everyone you contact the same questions.
You might ask:
- If you were to undertake another project, would you use the same contractor?
- During your project, which person from the company did you have most contact with?
- Was the site always kept in a safe, neat and tidy manner?
- Were there any accidents that caused damage to your property or to an individual?
- Were you given invoices when you expected them, and did you understand what you were being asked to pay for? Were there any problems over payments?
- Did you know who was carrying out the building control function for your project (if applicable) and did your contractor always meet your building control surveyor on site? Did they tell you if the inspections had raised any issues? Did you receive your Completion Certificate or copies of your gas or electrical certificates?
- Did you have a schedule for when different stages would be reached, including a completion date? Were these met?
- How did you agree charges for any extras or changes to the agreed project or specification?
- How did you originally find this contractor? – This question is to make sure they are not a relative or close personal friend of the contractor!
Don’t be fooled by cards produced at the door. If the contractor is not known to you get details of their past projects and check out the work they say they have done. Previous happy customers will not mind being asked!