If you’ve already made the decision to have a loft conversion, assuming you’re not going to charge with guns blazing into a DIY minefield, your next big task is deciding which company your are going to entrust with the job. This can be a minefield in itself when you consider the health and safety aspects at stake, not to mention the sizeable financial outlay of your investment. Not only are you trying to avoid the obvious nightmare scenarios of half-finished work, or scam companies who are happy to take your money and then disappear into thin air, but you also want to make sure you find a company that does a great job, not just a good job.
So having done a bit of research into local loft conversion companies, how do you know which ones are reputable? These are our 5 tips for avoiding the cowboys and make sure you’re investment is in safe hands:
1. Physical Address & Landline Telephone Number
An absolute must in narrowing down your shortlist is to immediately cross off any company that does not provide you with an office address and landline telephone number. These are essential for knowing that, should anything go wrong, you can pin down those responsible to a physical location. If a trader is reluctant to reveal these simple details, you should immediately question their reasons for not wanting to be found or contacted.
There are many different qualifications and certificates in the construction industry that allow companies to be officially recognised and accredited with a certain skill or level of expertise.
An important one to look out for is the NIC EIC Approved Contractor. This is a requirement, by law, for any company that intends to carry out electrical works. So make sure the loft conversation company you choose can provide evidence of this if they’re going to be the ones installing your lighting and sockets.
Another accreditation that we highly recommend looking out for is the FMB Associate Member. The Federation of Master Builders is the industry’s largest trade organisation and its members must all comply with a strict code of conduct to get approval. These include job inspections, client references and providing evidence of financial solvency. Choosing an FMB accredited member will ensure you’re dealing with a reputable and financially stable company with sound working practices.
3. Personal Recommendations
It may seem like an obvious suggestion but the value of a personal recommendation from a friend or relative shouldn’t be underestimated. This is the truest and most impartial opinion about a company or service that you’re ever likely to get, from a source you know you can trust. Ask as many questions as you can about their experience and if it’s a neighbour, or someone who lives close enough for you to go and see the end result yourself, that’s even better.
4. No Money Upfront
Unless you’ve been referred to a company through a personal recommendation, be wary of handing over your money before any work has begun, especially if it’s a large percentage of the overall cost. In these murky financial times, many may argue that they simply cannot risk not being paid for a job and require at least some sort of minimum deposit upfront. A stable company, that keeps its accounts in good order, should be more than capable of offering their customers the option of a 0% deposit, especially if there is a structured payment plan in place for completion of the work.
5. No Outsourcing
It’s not uncommon for some loft conversion companies to essentially act as an agency for lots of different tradesmen. Having very few actual employees, these companies will outsource different parts of the job to several different contractors. The downside to this ‘pot-luck’ approach is that it’s difficult to guarantee a consistent level of quality from one job to the next. There is a certain peace of mind and stability that comes with knowing that the tradesmen working on your house have been tried and tested, again and again, by the company who employs them on a full-time basis.