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Keep your contractors happy

Thank you for the feedback on Part 1, including a reminder from Walsall that the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 include requirements to make payments promptly. I’ve also heard about a Technical Officer who sets up a WhatsApp group between himself, the contractor, the client and their family for each project, which sounds like a great way to keep everybody in touch.

Here’s 5 other ways that you can keep your contractors happy.

6. Set expectations

Having a written code of conduct sets out what you expect from contractors. This would include things like keeping the client informed (Whatsapp group?), protecting the property, welfare facilities, how to deal with variations and what to include with the invoice. Setting these things out should mean everyone knows what’s expected from them and help jobs to run smoothly. I think it’s also well worth having a booklet that tells your client what they should expect while the contractor is working in their home. Many people won’t have had the builders in before and some tips on what to expect can prevent misunderstandings later.

7. Contractor Forums

Good contractors are a precious resource that need careful nurturing. Setting up a contractors forum so that you can offer training (e.g. from your local building control officers?), discuss changes and consult on new proposals show that you appreciate what they do and want to work with them to keep improving services. I know some Councils are worried about potential cartels but with robust procurement practices the risk is pretty low compared to the benefits of proper engagement.

8. Value of smaller builders

I’ve seen one or two examples of large contractors delivering DFG projects well – but heard plenty of stories about poor service and escalating costs. The vast majority of DFG funding is spent with small local builders. Usually family run firms that know how to treat people in their own home and want to help people in their local community. We recognise it too, and have a new category in this year’s National Healthy Housing Awards where you can nominate your best contractors for this prestigious award.

We also designed dfgtenders.co.uk for smaller builders who haven’t got the time or expertise to participate in a bigger procurement process.

9. Right first time

Snagging issues just waste time – for you and the client. It also wastes time for the contractor, and time means money. Setting the expectation that a job should be completed right, first time, every time, should be the norm. Punitive measures are probably counterproductive (and potentially illegal) but adaptations are, for the most part, relatively straightforward building projects. A little bit of care extra care and attention is good for everyone.

10. Encourage them to do private work too

There can be a tendency to want to keep good contractors a secret that you don’t want to share, but having one client is not a sustainable business model for anyone. One way to do this is using Trustmark registration as the main criteria for joining your list. Trustmark is the only Government endorsed contractor quality scheme and comes with features like insurance backed warranties and dispute resolution. But it also means that people looking for an accredited adaptations contractor can find one via the Trustmark website. Foundations are developing a new approach to accreditation with Trustmark that we’ll be launching over the summer. Make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter to get all the latest news.