How to build an effective contractor network for property maintenance
Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Finding local contractors and suppliers
Local contractors will have a better understanding of your property's council planning permissions. They will probably have an established presence in the area making it easier to obtain and take up references. They should also be able to invite you to visit any of their ongoing projects.
One easy way to find local contractors is simply to drive around the local neighbourhood. Most contractors will promote their business on name boards outside a property if it is a large project or they will promote their business on their van.
If you have recently used a contractor and were happy with the work, you can also ask them for other trades they would recommend.
Other sources include asking friends or family for contractors they would recommend.
Finding contractors and suppliers online
There is no reason for you to miss out on good contractors and suppliers by not using online searches. In fact, it can be sometimes easier to find reviews and background information through a simple Google search. There are various online directories that can help you find the exact type of contractor for your project. Some even check and ensure that contractors have the required insurances in place and current trade association memberships.
Building strong relationships with contractors and finding your top go-to contractors
Before you can start working with a contractor, it helps to lay down the foundation of a strong working relationship. Most professional relationships are built on trust in each other’s abilities, as well as professionalism. Take some time to sit down with a potential contractor. Understand how they work and how they communicate with their clients. Discuss their approach to problem-solving and present them with yours.
If possible, accompany them to one of their active sites to see the quality of their work. Candidly chat with them about the project and how it is progressing.
A knowledgeable contractor will have lots of insightful advice on your requirements as well. Finding the right people might take some time, but once you do, remember that you will probably be working with them for a long time.
The importance of references & recommendations
References for contractors may come from your friends and family. They can also come from any tradesmen you may have received contact details from. There are various online sources available where people often post about their experiences with contractors.
A contractor that comes highly recommended may charge a little more than someone who is trying to win your business by offering a better price. So you need to weigh-up the pros and cons.
Communicating in person is the best approach to understanding how a potential contractor works. You can see how experienced they are as well as how confident they are about their work. You also get the opportunity to ask questions as they come up which can provide a better insight into their knowledge. You can check how much they understand your project’s requirements much better when meeting in person. You can also take notes and verify them on the spot. In-person interviews are a very effective screening tool at your disposal.
Getting multiple quotes
Like all other purchases you make, multiple quotes for property renovations and repairs can save you a lot of money. Always request a quote in writing as the quote is a promise from a contractor or a supplier for goods and/or services at a fixed price. A quote is different from an estimate as it has a fixed price on it as opposed to a range.
A good practice is to get at least three quotes before deciding on a preferred contractor's service or product. Some contractors and suppliers charge for giving quotes. We would advise being cautious of quotes that are significantly lower than the average market price.
Checking for required insurance
Good contractors should carry their own insurance and be happy to provide a copy. Sometimes, it’s not required but we would still recommend checking whether it is in place or not. Having insurance reduces your risk of having to pay for damages if someone gets hurt on the job, or damage occurs to a property.
Public Liability Insurance is the minimum, this provides insurance protection for the contractor against someone being hurt while on site or damage to a 3rd parties' property.
Your contractor is required by law to have Employers’ liability insurance if they work through a company on your project. This protects them from claims which their employees may make. Besides being illegal, the absence of this insurance can result in you bearing the cost of those claims.
Key and property access handling with contractors
You can manage access to your properties by logging each set of keys. We suggest enforcing a system that logs a contractor’s name, time of their visit, as well as the company's name. We would also highly recommend confirming contractors identity by requesting any formal ID document, before releasing the keys to a property.
Collecting feedback on the contractor’s visit from the landlord or tenant
Once you have received the services from a contractor, be sure to obtain feedback from the person occupying or owning the property.
This will act as the most reliable form of review and can help you decide whether you would want to work that same contractor in the future.