With house prices falling and mortgages difficult to get, more of us are deciding to update the homes we live in, rather than sell up. It sounds sensible, but it can be terribly expensive to get a tradesman in to do the jobs which we can't do as DIYers.
But it is worth remembering that tradesmen are in a similar position to the rest of us. They are finding it difficult to find jobs and may be more willing to negotiate than ever before. Trying to get a discount for any service can be a scary prospect, but there are lots of ways that you can make it easier and more likely that your tradesman will knock off a few pounds.
Don't ask a tradesman in for a quote without having done some research. You need to know how much the job is likely to cost and you need to give them a very clear idea of what you want done. Your tradesman will be able to give you a realistic quote and you will know if it is fair. This is the best place to start the negotiation.
Don't allow your tradesman to get the upper hand. Remember that you are the client and they are essentially working for you. Be polite and friendly, but make it clear that you know your own mind. This will make it much less likely that they will attempt to overcharge you and they will be more receptive to talk of discounts.
Get it in writing:
Once you have negotiated a price, get them to write it down in a contract. Sometimes a tradesman might agree a lower price only to come up with “extras” at a later date. Make sure they stick to the agreed quote.
Buy it yourself:
If your builder is quoting based on them buying the materials, ask for a breakdown of the exact material costs and see if they can be reduced by buying them yourself. Builders may try to load extra costs which they call “materials”, in reality the cost of these may be significantly less.
Your builder will be aware that saving money is a priority and may be happy for you to offer to do some of the work yourself. This can knock days off a project making considerable savings. Possible jobs might be clearing old kitchen units or bathrooms, stripping wallpaper, clearing the garden. You could even offer to do the end of day clear-up to save an hour a day. Not all tradesmen will be receptive to this, but it is worth asking.
Fit in around them:
Many tradesmen fit into tight schedules. They may have jobs which take two and half weeks leaving them two or three days once a month which are free and underused. If you are willing for your job to take considerably longer, offer for them to come only on their “off” days. This would be time which they are not usually working and they should offer a discount based on this. Be aware though, that you will become the last priority and your job may take a very long time.
Don't do it for cash:
Your builder may offer to do the job for a “cash” price. Don't be tempted to do this. You will have no contract, no receipt and no comeback if anything should go wrong. It just isn't worth it.
Remember that your tradesman is only trying to make a decent living, so don't ask for a silly discount. It is reasonable to expect to be able to get 10% off by a little bit of hard negotiation. You are paying for a good job, not necessarily a cheap job, so always bear that in mind.
- See the post about this article in the Forum