Jeremy Buirski, Milnerton
Regarding your article about that dodgy builder who botched up two jobs, it is distressing that these things are still happening and that people still walk into it with eyes open (“Builder recommendation regretted”, Off My Trolley, August 30).
One needs several checkable references and details of a builder or handyman’s speciality and what he can do before signing anything. Also, get it down in writing before any money changes hands. Also, you never pay for the entire job, at most half in two instalments and the rest once the job is completed to your satisfaction. Anybody who asks for all the money upfront will cause you big trouble, that is a given, so get it in the contract.
Then again, no builder or handyman can do everything at the same high standard, as they usually have one or more specialities, and for anything else they should have regular sub-contractors that they have used often.
We have now renovated our last two homes and were very fortunate early on to find a really good renovation specialist with good sub-contractors (plumber, electricity, tiling, etc) while he himself can do woodwork and kitchens.
What makes such a person valuable is that he can act as your project manager, thus making things easier for you by taking on a big part of the load and giving quotes for the entire job. For things he does not do you will still have to work directly with other sub-contractors, like we did with the windows, shutters, floor and kitchen work surfaces.
That said, we were still done in about five years ago when a very large kitchen specialist manufacturer made a botch of a very expensive job (nothing came of their promise to return the money if you were not happy), which was when we met our current renovator. If you should ever get hold of a good one, remember he can make your life easier for many years to come, so hold on to him.