June 11, 2012 03:37 ET

Home Improvement Tips: How to Avoid Cowboys

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 11, 2012) - From emergency plumbers for drain repair to builders for major structural work, all British homeowners will need to call in professional help at some point or another. Unfortunately, finding the right man for the job can be one of the most difficult parts of home improvement, with horror stories of pay disputes and poor-quality work around every corner. Here are some tips from the plumbing and security specialists Dyno-Rod on how to avoid home-improvement cowboys.

Compare Prices. Internet forums are great places to research the average price of a particular job, but handymen prices do vary significantly from place to place. A cheap offer may also mean lower-quality materials and tools, so it's important to ask a plumber or builder for a breakdown of labour and supplies costs, plus the level of guaranteed finishing.

References. Before taking out a contract, a homeowner should always check a handyman's working history and references, whether they were recommended by friends or found on the internet. It may even be possible to check previously completed work in person.

Insurance. All plumbers, electricians and builders should be licensed, registered and insured. This protects homeowners against any accidents or damage caused during the project, including injury to the contractor. Professionals hired from major companies will automatically be covered by a blanket policy, but it's vital to double-check whether independent contractors have the correct licenses and registrations.

Schedule. Homeowners need to agree on a timeline for any home improvement projects and check the price of extra hours if the work overruns. Yet speed can be a false economy; a handyman who promises to finish in record time could leave behind a botched job.

Contract. A full list of tasks to be completed should be drawn up and signed, with exact locations, materials and completion expectations. A contract should also set out a payment schedule that keeps at least 25% of the cost back until a homeowner is completely satisfied with the work.

Contact Information

  • Sutherland House
    Maple Road, SURBITON, Surrey
    KT6 4BJ
    020 8481 2200
    020 8481 2288 (FAX)