I’ve done hundreds if not thousands of installations and I’ve seen more than my fair share of things go wrong on various job sites, so follow these 9 rules to avoid heartache…

1. Do your homework

The first step to reduce potential problems is to ensure you have the best people for the job.

This means avoiding the cowboys by filtering them out in your selection process.

If you’ve done your homework finding reliable tradesmen prior to beginning work, you should have a small team of reliable, qualified tradesmen (maybe as part of a turnkey installers team) that take pride in their work and are available to work when you need them.

PS That’s one of the benefits of using someone like me – I’ve already spent 10 years filtering these people so you don’t have to  #just saying!

The next step to a smooth installation is to nip potential problems in the bud…

2. Check public liability

If a tradesman/company has public liability insurance then the homeowner is covered against any damage that the tradesmen may inflict on their property or possessions.

Ask to see the certificate – I have never ever been asked to produce this document and I can’t understand why!

However, prevention is better than a cure, and if it was my house, I would do everything I could to limit potential damage to my property.

Keep reading….

3. Tidy up

This may sound counterintuitive as the process you are embarking on WILL create dust, but this approach will allow you to easily assess the condition of any carpets & walls prior to work beginning.

It also makes it easier to see when the builder has not cleared up adequately after himself.

I personally cost to put plastic carpet protection down which stays put for the duration of the project and can be easily swept clean and then hovered at the end of the project. It is also less of a trip hazard than dust sheets and is better for allergy sufferers.

Remove any pictures or ornaments on the walls or window sills between the main door to the house and the bathroom – Manoeuvring heavy steel baths and large shower enclosures upstairs is not the easiest of tasks at the best of times and the fewer things in the way that could be damaged, the better.

If possible, clear out the cupboards by the stop tap (if having plumbing work done) and the fuse box (if having electrical work done.)

Tradesmen will inevitably need to access these locations, and they may not be as careful or delicate when removing your personal items to gain access as you would be.

Clear the way

If a tradesman quotes to rip out a bathroom he will not expect to spend an hour removing all your shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, etc before he can start work.

Get things off on the right foot and give him a clear run at the job in hand.

It will make the job run quicker and your possessions are less likely to get lost or damaged.

4. Make it easy

In my bathroom installation business in Leeds, I always recommend clearing a spare bedroom adjacent to the bathroom or an area in the garage (if possible) to allow for storage of items ready to be installed: bath, toilet, tiles, and general building materials and tools.

You’d be amazed how much stuff you need for a new bathroom…

This storage space helps to smooth the whole renovation process out, as the installer does not need to ensure items arrive ‘just in time’ (which can be a recipe for disaster.)

I prefer to get most materials on-site early in the process.

This gives the customer and my team the chance to check everything for damaged or missing parts.

If you cannot provide storage space for the new suite, tiles, etc, then you are essentially insisting that the installer supply & fit on the same day meaning that you will have no time to:

  • check for damages before installation
  • check you are happy with your installer products (If he is supplying them)
  • replace any damaged items before they are due to be installed

1-day delay does not necessarily add 1 day to the job!

If a plumber cannot fit a bath on a Monday because it is damaged, and a replacement bath is delivered the next day, the plumber may not be able to come back (due to pre-arranged job commitments) for another week, by which time you’ll have been without a bath for a week, and your electrician and tiler may have to be postponed as well (and they might be going on holiday for 2 weeks meaning further delays!)

Also, if a job drags on too long, and you keep postponing people, some tradesmen may get peeved off and you may loose your workforce or find it hard to get them to come back, especially if you’ve already paid them up to date.

All of this could have been avoided by using storage space as a buffer to allow items to be delivered and checked prior to work beginning.

5. Motivate Your Installers

You should aim to have your installer(s) want to go the extra mile for you because there will be times during an installation when they have a choice between cutting a corner and doing the job properly.

In all likelihood, this will be something that you will never see (but may see the effects of) in years to come.

This is where the individual personality of the tradesman (or working processes of the company) comes in.

However, there are things you can do to make sure that your installer chooses the ‘proper job’ route.

The best way to do this is to communicate your expectations to him, be firm but fair in implementing them, and be a nice person to work for, in the hope that he will be willing to go the extra mile for you because you did for him.

Everyone likes to be appreciated, and it only costs a couple of teabags!

I obviously prefer the 2nd option but then I don’t consider myself a cowboy.

But then again, who does?

This brings me nicely to…

6. Don’t be a Cowboy (customer)

If you have agreed to a written bathroom installation estimate, then it is your duty to stick to it just as much as the installers.

It works both ways:

Pay on time and in the format requested

If you have agreed to pay the installer on a Friday in cash, then don’t pay him the following Monday by cheque – ask yourself how you would cope if your employer effectively delayed your salary payment by a week or more.

PS I only take BACS payments as I want to be around to service my customers over the long run, not to be locked up by HMRC when they call me in the future!

Stick to the plan & don’t change your mind (unless you want to pay more!)

Adding work to the schedule or insisting that work is re-done purely because you have changed your mind, will cost you extra money and add delays to the schedule.

Plan properly to ensure this doesn’t happen, and inspect work at the end of each day to ensure everything is as originally intended.

This will ensure that the ideas you have in your head, or the plans that have been agreed upon are accurately realized before things go too far to rectify them.

Again, prevention is better than cure.

Just one more thing: can you just……?

If you need extra jobs done by your tradesmen ‘whilst they’re there’  by all means ask, but never assume that this work will be free of charge.

These ‘can you just?’ jobs can add a day a week to every job and that adds up over a year if you’re doing them for free.

Don’t be insulted when someone turns down what you perceive to be a simple ‘5-minute job’.

They rarely are!

7. Have realistic expectations

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs!”

  • Hammering is noisy
  • Removing tiles is dusty
  • Sharing your house with big burly tradesmen is not ideal
  • Fitting a bathroom will involve some disturbance – to your water / electrical supply & general life
  • Having building work done after redecorating your house is not sensible – a scuffed skirting board does not mean the plumber has to repaint your entire home.

Although steps can be taken to reduce the effects of these statements, they are truisms nonetheless.

Having realistic expectations and discussing these with your installer before beginning will help to ensure things go as smoothly as possible – largely by lowering your concept of what ‘smoothly’ is when referring to building work!

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