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Three things you should tell your trader ahead of a home improvement project

Traders reveal the information they need to help you get the result you want

Timescale, end vision and budget are the three most important things your trader needs to know before starting work on a home improvement project.

We asked Which? Trusted traders from a range of professions to rank the most important things customers should tell traders before they begin.* The traders overwhelmingly voted these three factors as top of their wish lists. In fact, they accounted for 50% of the total vote.

The fixtures and fittings that you want to use were voted the fourth most important piece of information, with 11% of the vote. Information about access to your property – which for some traders included the tricky issue of parking – was rated fifth, with 6.4%.

If you’re planning renovation projects or your home needs repairs, visit Which? Trusted Traders to find a reputable trader who has passed our checks.

The top three things you need to tell your trader

With that in mind, here are our top three tips for getting your project off to a flying start:

1. Explain how long you would like the work to take

Timescale is the top concern for traders, with 18.3% of the total vote. Several of those surveyed said that they need to know your proposed timings to decide whether they can fit the work into their schedules.

Let your trader know whether you have a deadline for the project and when you expect them to start working.

Some traders can be booked up weeks, or even months, in advance. A survey by the Federation of Master Builders earlier this year showed that more than 40% of builders need four months’ notice before they’re free to start work.

As one trader advised: ‘The customer needs to plan well in advance. You would be amazed how many people think I can start tomorrow.’

2. Describe what you want your trader to achieve

Explaining your vision for the end result of the work was voted the second most important discussion point by our pool of traders, securing 16.7% of the vote.

‘One of the most important factors for us is to understand what exactly it is that you are trying to achieve by employing our services,’ one trader explained. ‘It’s only when we understand that, that we can offer advice to help you make a decision.’

Others said a clear vision enabled them to provide more accurate quotes.

‘We like customers to be specific about what they want, so that we know that we are quoting for the right thing. If they do that with all their quotes, the customer can compare them fairly.’

The need to understand the ‘end vision’ can apply to small jobs as well as large-scale renovations. Many traders highlighted the importance of customers clearly defining the problem they’ve been called in to solve, such as poor water pressure or high fuel bills.

Our video on how to communicate effectively with your trader explains how to make sure you’re on the right track:

3. Be clear about how much you can afford to spend

Our traders felt that your budget is the third most important thing to communicate.

Cost-related questions that traders might ask before taking on work include:

  • Do you have an ideal budget for the required works?
  • Have you researched any of the material costs involved for your project?
  • What is your real maximum budget for the work?

Everyone’s idea of a reasonable budget is different, so being honest about your expectations from the start will ensure that your trader can deliver results that are right for you. It will also help traders to give you fair and appropriate quotes.

‘[There’s] no point one quote including a top-end boiler and the other quote a bottom-end boiler. You can’t compare quotes like that,’ one of our traders commented.

A Which? Trusted Traders survey earlier this year found that nearly of quarter of homeowners overspend on renovation projects. If you want to stick to your budget, use our free home improvement checklist to help you keep on track.Preview image of home improvements PDF

Which? Trusted Traders

Which? Trusted Traders is an endorsement scheme designed to help customers find reliable tradespeople. Established by Which? in 2013, the scheme has more than 9,000 endorsed businesses throughout the UK.

We only endorse businesses with the relevant qualifications and skills. You can find a Which? Trusted trader in your area through our easy-to-use online search. Just enter the type of trader you want and your location to find a trader for your home improvement project.

*In May 2018, we asked 213 of our Which? Trusted traders to rank the five most important things customers should tell them out of 13 options. We then assigned a score to each ranking so we could calculate how highly each factor was rated.

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