Avoiding the cowboys: How to hire a builder

Avoiding the cowboys: How to hire a builder

If you’re a homeowner, at some point you’re likely to need to hire a builder to carry out repairs or improvements. But with all the horror stories you read on the internet, the process can seem scary. How do you avoid the cowboys, and how do you make sure the work done is satisfactory? Here are some tips to help you hire and work with a builder.

Stay local

When you’re trying to find a builder to do some work for you, it can be tempting to cast a wide net, especially if those nearby are busy. But this isn’t recommended unless it’s someone you know or have hired before.

A local builder is easier to call back if issues arise or if you find further work to do. And they’re likely to be more willing to turn up. It can also be harder to check the reputation of someone who doesn’t live locally.

Don’t rush in

Taking time to do your research is key to successfully hiring a builder. Ideally, you want to choose someone with a good reputation, the right skills and plenty of experience.

A good way to start is to make a list of the local builders and building companies in your area. Then, check with family and friends, to see if they’ve used any of them and whether they’d recommend them. Builders may also have lots of online reviews from customers, which can help determine how good they are. They may also have their own website featuring case studies of work they have done in your area. Next, you can check to see if they’re members of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) for extra reassurance.

Now it’s time to narrow down your list. Some builders and building companies specialise or concentrate on certain jobs, such as renovations and extensions or maintenance and repairs. So, it can be handy to make a list of the jobs you want completing and see which builders on your shortlist are the best match. Looking at the descriptions on their listings and at previous jobs they’ve done should help with this.

Getting quotes

Once you have a shortlist of builders that you’re happy with, it’s time to contact them for quotes. Even if it’s just a small repair job, you want to get at least three quotes.

To make sure that the quotes you get are accurate and fair, invite your shortlisted builders around to assess the job and discuss your options with them. If there’s more than one way to complete a job, ask for separate quotes for each option. Also, ask for detailed quotes, as this makes it easier to compare costs and look for savings.

Sometimes quotes can seem a little excessive or too good to be true. You can check the average cost for most building jobs online, to get a feel for what’s fair. If quotes seem a little low, check that hidden costs such as scaffolding and skips are included.

If a builder says they’ll give you a cheap quote in exchange for cash up front, be very wary. This is a tactic frequently used by cowboys.

Working with a builder

Once you’ve found a builder, and you’ve received a quote that you’re happy with, you need to agree upon a start date. It’s rare that a builder will be able to start right away, so make sure you pin them down to a date, so you can prepare.

It’s also a good idea before they start work to check if you need to do anything such as move furniture or cars out of the way. If there are access or similar issues, make sure they’re aware of them. It’s also wise to check they have all the right paperwork in place. Your builder should have insurance to cover public liability and accidental damage and an insurance-backed guarantee, so the work they do is still covered even if they go out of business.

As you may have guessed by now, communication is a very important part of maintaining a good working relationship with your builder. Make sure you’re clear about what you want, and speak up straight away if you have any concerns. Keep an eye on progress, so you can be confident everything is moving along as you’d expect and that nothing is deviating from the agreed plan.


Signs your windows aren’t fit for purpose any more

Signs your windows aren't fit for purpose any more

Windows are a vital part of what keeps a home happy, safe and comfortable. They help you manage your climate, maintain the temperature in the home to stop it from becoming too hot in the summer and too cold in winter, and protect you from rain, allergens and much more. However, most people aren’t aware of when it’s time to start looking at replacing them. Here, we’re going to look at some signs that it may be time to wave goodbye to your current windows.

High energy bills

If you’ve noticed a steady increase in your energy bills, your windows may be to blame. Windows play a crucial role in maintaining your home’s thermal envelope. Older windows, or those with damaged seals, allow heat to escape during the winter and let in unwanted heat during the summer. This forces your heating and cooling systems to work harder, consuming more energy and driving up your bills. Replacing old or inefficient windows with modern, energy-efficient models can significantly reduce your energy consumption.

Condensation inside the window

Condensation inside your windows, specifically between the panes of glass, indicates a failure in the window’s seal. Double or triple-pane windows are designed with a sealed space between the panes that is often filled with inert gas to improve insulation. When the seal is compromised, moisture can infiltrate this space, leading to condensation. This not only obstructs your view but also shows that the window is no longer providing effective insulation. The presence of condensation can also lead to more severe issues like mould growth and frame deterioration, so replacement double glazing may be necessary. Replacing windows with broken seals is essential to restore both the aesthetic clarity and insulating efficiency of your windows.

They’re difficult to open and close

Windows that are hard to open and close are more than just a minor inconvenience; they can be a sign that the window frames are warped, the hardware is worn out, or the windows have settled improperly. This can occur due to age, prolonged exposure to the elements, or poor initial installation. Oiling your window hinges may work temporarily, but if it keeps happening, it can become a significant issue. Additionally, windows that don’t close properly can leave gaps that let in draughts, moisture and pests. Replacing these windows ensures smooth operation, enhances security and improves overall comfort.

They’re leaking or draughty

Leaking or draughty windows are a major indicator that it’s time for replacements. When windows allow air or moisture to seep through, they fail to provide a proper barrier against the external environment. This can lead to higher energy costs, as your HVAC and central heating systems must compensate for the air exchange, and can cause damage to your home’s interior, such as warped wood, mould and mildew. Draughts are often a result of poor sealing or frame damage, which can occur over time or due to poor installation.

New windows for the home may be an investment, but it’s likely to cost you a lot more if you continue to live with windows that let in the cold, moisture and worsen your air quality.


Home renovations you should never attempt alone (Unless you’re a trained professional)

Home renovations you should never attempt alone (Unless you’re a trained professional)

When it comes to home renovations, DIY approaches can be cost-effective and rewarding when done correctly. Unfortunately, there are some home renovations that you should never attempt alone. No matter how many YouTube videos you’ve watched or articles you’ve read, there are some situations where the stakes are simply too high and there’s potential for a major disaster to occur.

So, in this post, we’re going to explain what those types of renovations are and why you should always let a trained expert handle them.

Any structure-related work

The structure of your home is surprisingly delicate, and you could cause some serious damage if you’re not completely sure what you’re doing. Attempting to alter the structure, such as removing walls, could potentially damage your entire home and may cause upper floors to weaken or even collapse.

If you’re interested in structural home renovations, then you should always seek expert advice. Doing so will ensure that the structure of your home remains secure, giving you peace of mind and protecting you against a plethora of potential issues. Incorrect modifications and poor calculations will lead to catastrophic failures that will risk the integrity of your home.

Any work on your roof

Even if you have a friend or two to help you, we’d generally suggest not working on your roof unless you know what you’re doing.

The reason is that your roof is a dangerous place. There could be loose or weak tiles, you could have pests up there, and it could be slippery if the weather has been bad. If you lose concentration for even a moment when you’re on the roof, then you could potentially fall off, fall through the ceiling below and injure yourself.

Let a professional handle it instead. Don’t try to climb up your roof and perform your own renovation works. Instead, leave it up to the professionals who have all the proper safety equipment and insurance certificates.

Any electrical work

Changing a light fixture might be possible for a skilled DIYer, but it could still be dangerous if it’s your first time doing it. Electrical wiring can be different from home to home, and even room to room, so there are cases where something might not be suitable for a DIYer to handle. Perhaps the wiring in your home has faults that need to be detected by a skilled electrician, or maybe you just don’t have the equipment to deal with it.

Leave electrical work up to the professionals so that you can stay safe. An electrician will have all the tools and knowledge to carry out electrical work quickly and efficiently, so there’s really no reason for someone to do it themselves and put their lives at risk. Even if you’ve viewed plenty of videos and read guides about how to do DIY electrical work, always make sure to play it safe so that you’re not putting yourself and others at risk of injury.

Therefore, unless you’re a trained professional in some of these fields, it’s always better to seek expert advice. Avoid potentially harming yourself and let someone else do a good job for you.


Heating, ventilating and air conditioning repair engineers in Humboldt, TN

Heating, ventilating and air conditioning repair engineers in Humboldt, TN

When is an emergency heating or air conditioning repair needed? This post will cover the signs that show you need it, and who you should call.

During the winter, this type of service is especially necessary, since the temperatures can drop well below freezing. This extreme cold can be hazardous to people, particularly infants and the elderly. Click here for information about the health hazard children face in extreme cold. If the system malfunctions, it can cause more problems for people already prone to health problems.

Calling for emergency air conditioning or heating repair

Not all air conditioner and heating repairs are emergencies. Sometimes, a broken system is just a nuisance, and you can call an HVAC company to fix the problem. Emergency services are usually more expensive, because the servicemen are typically charged extra if the call is made after hours or on an off-day. If you’re not sure if your repair is an emergency, it’s always best to call ahead.

First, remember that the number one reason for emergency calls is preventative maintenance. By regularly changing the filters, performing professional cleaning and attending to system components, you can keep your heating and air conditioning systems operating efficiently and safely.

In addition to preventative maintenance, emergency HVAC repair services are crucial for safety and reliability.

Having an HVAC system in your home is a huge investment. When it’s not working properly, you might be stuck without heat or air conditioning for a long time. But emergency HVAC repair is necessary for keeping your home comfortable during the hot or cold season. But not all HVAC problems need an emergency HVAC technician.

While you may be able to wait for an AC expert company to come on a day when business is slow, it’s not a good idea if your system isn’t going to work for a couple of hours. In this case, it is better to call a company that has 24-hour emergency AC or heating repair services. A professional AC technician can help you avoid this problem by identifying the problem early on.

If you notice that your air conditioning or heating unit doesn’t power on, it’s time to call an emergency AC or heating repair service. They’ll have the necessary equipment to diagnose and fix your problem quickly. If the problem is too severe, you can do a few things to clean it yourself. Changing your air filter may help clear up the smell.

Signs that you need it

The summer months are the perfect time to use air conditioning, but when it breaks down, you may need urgent repairs. While it may be annoying to hear strange noises, they can also indicate a serious problem. This is especially true if you are in the midst of an uncomfortable heat wave.

First, check the thermostat. Your air conditioner could be experiencing problems if its thermostat is not working properly. There may be obvious signs that you need urgent repair service, or you may not have noticed anything at all.

The most common signs that you need urgent AC or heating repair are sudden and noticeable changes in your system. This means that standard troubleshooting techniques have failed. Calling a professional AC maintenance service is a smart move if your unit seems to be running too hot or too cold.

Because urgent AC or heating repair requires the quickest response time, it can be more expensive than routine maintenance.

Another common sign that your HVAC system is in need of urgent repair is tripping circuit breakers. This could mean a serious electrical problem and could lead to an electrical fire. Luckily, you can prevent this from becoming an urgent by scheduling annual maintenance visits.

However, emergencies can strike fast and without warning. Signs that you need urgent air conditioning or heating repair should be easy to recognise.

Companies that provide it

A broken HVAC system can cause many problems. In Tennessee, it can be detrimental to elderly or vulnerable family members who are susceptible to the cold.

Additionally, it can be harmful to family members with asthma or other breathing problems if the HVAC system breaks down during a freezing winter. If you’re experiencing a heating or air conditioning emergency, it is important to contact a professional for emergency service as quickly as possible. It is important to avoid doing any of these repairs yourself because you could end up creating a larger headache or even a dangerous situation.

A well-established emergency HVAC company will have the right equipment, knowledge and experience to solve your problems immediately. They should be fully insured and bonded, and should conduct drug and background checks on all of their employees. In addition, they should offer upfront estimates to avoid surprise expenses. Additionally, they should offer a satisfaction guarantee. And, as a final consideration, they should provide drop cloths to protect your property from damage.

An emergency situation can happen at any time. If you have a leak, it can be an extremely dangerous situation. Water and gas leaks can lead to water poisoning and fires. If you have a leak of natural gas, a quick service call is imperative.

If you suspect a gas leak, contact an emergency HVAC service right away. If you suspect that your HVAC system isn’t functioning properly, evacuate the home immediately. You can use a mobile phone to make a call to a qualified service remotely.