How do I find a reputable .....

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Despite media reports and programmes such as 'Builders from Hell' etc, there are many property companies that give a first class service. The trick to finding a reputable property company is to make sure you check which associations/organisations they belong to; ask the right questions; gain a signed agreement between you.

Click on: Estate Agent; Letting Agent; Builder; Plumber; Gas Engineer; Painter/Decorator; Basement Converter; Carpenter; Property Investment Club; IFA; Solicitor/Conveyancer; Planning Consultant; Interior or Garden Designer; Architect; Project ManagerInsurance Broker; Electrician Removals; Man with a Van  

A Reputable Estate Agent
Most estate agents will do a good job for you, the trick is to find the estate agent that is good at selling your type of property in your area. For example, if you had a £500,000 home, you wouldn't choose an agent that mostly sells homes for £150,000. To find a reputable agent, make sure they are paid up members of either the Ombudsman Scheme for Estate Agents or the Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme as this is a legal requirement and gives you indpendent redress should there be a problem. You can search on websites such as Rightmove to find an agent that is selling your property type/in your price bracket. When you have found three estate agents to invite to value your home, look at our top 10 dos and don'ts when selling; consider using our factsheets which have 'Twenty Questions to Ask an Agent' and consider using our 'Finding an Agent' service.

If you have any questions about employing an agent, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Letting Agent
Being a good Letting Agent is more about accurate administration and understanding legals than it is about selling. As a result you should look for a letting agent that only does lettings, or has run a lettings division for over 10 years. Ideally make sure that they are a member of the National Approved Lettings Scheme, and if not at least a member of ARLA. Download our factsheets about Letting a Property or consider using our 'Find an Agent' service.

If you have any questions about employing an agent, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Builder
Finding a reputable builder can mean waiting up to a year for them to start work - so make sure you begin to look for a builder for big jobs well in advance of when you want the work doing. Check they are members of the Federation of Master Builders, or government run schemes such as TrustMark. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the builders insurance is up to date. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the builder which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take and what happens if you have a dispute. For a free contract, visit the Federation of Master Builders.

If you have any questions about employing a builder, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Plumber
Plumbers should be members of one of the following organisations Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors or Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association and each of them  have a 'find a plumber' service you can use. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the plumber's insurance is up to date and covers you for any leaks before and after the work has taken place. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the plumber which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take and what happens if you have a dispute.
 
If you have any questions about employing a plumber, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Gas Engineer
Gas Engineers should be a member of Corgi which has a 'find a gas engineer' service you can use. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the gas engineer's insurance is up to date and covers you for any leaks before and after the work has taken place. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the gas engineer which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take and what happens if you have a dispute.  Make sure that you receive signed paperwork to comply with building regulations if you are having major work carried out such as fitting a boiler.

If you have any questions about employing a gas engineer, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Painter and Decorator
Painters and decorators should be a member of The Painting & Decorating Association which has a 'find a painter and decorator' service you can use. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the painter/decorator's insurance is up to date and covers you for any problems after the work has taken place. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the painter/decorator which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take, cleaning up after themselves and what happens if you have a dispute.

If you have any questions about employing a painter and decorator, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Basement Converter
Converting a basement is a very specialist skill and should only be carried out by companies/builders that have experience. Ideally they should be members of one of the following oganisations Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors or Property Care Association. Before you make your choice, make sure they take you to see a previous basement conversion that they have carried out before. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the builders insurance is up to date. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the builder which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take and what happens if you have a dispute. For a free contract, visit Federation of Master Builders.

If you have any questions about employing a basement converter, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Carpenter
Carpenters should be a member of The Institute of Carpenters which has a 'find a carpenter' service you can use. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the carpenter's insurance is up to date and covers you for any problems after the work has taken place. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the carpenter which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take, cleaning up after themselves and what happens if you have a dispute.

If you have any questions about employing a carpenter, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Property Investment Club
There are some terrible 'property investment clubs', but most can be avoided by asking the following questions. Can I visit and gain an independent valuation of the property you are selling to me? Can I use my own mortgage and legal advisor? NEVER buy a property from anyone unless you have seen it first, however far away it is. Never buy a property from a company trying to pressurise you to make a decision in a few hours or days. Visit our Property Investment Club services page and read our Property Investment eBook.

If you have any questions about property investment clubs, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Independent Financial Advisor (IFA)
Choosing the right financial advisor to manage your mortgage, insurance and investments, can save you thousands of pounds as well as make you money. With property, it's important to find a financial advisor that is experienced at organising mortgages, or if you are investing in property, also invests themselves or works with property investors. All IFAs must be licenced by the Financial Services Authority and to give mortgage advice must be a licenced mortgage broker. For more information about IFAs and financial services, visit our financial planning page. 

If you have any questions about independent financial advisors, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Mortgage Broker
Mortgage brokers work varies dramatically. Some might work just for one company such as a Building Society and can therefore only offer their mortgages, others might deal with 'whole of market' so can search all mortgages available in the market place. Some are tied to certain lenders and have exclusive access to some mortgage deals. Some mortgage brokers specialise, for example in self build mortgages or mortgages for those with a bad credit rating. Make sure though that they are licenced by the Financial Services Authority.

If you have any questions about mortgage brokers, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Solicitor or Conveyancer
In today's world, when buying and selling a home, your legal company (solicitor/conveyancer) should offer you 'no sale no fee' and 'fixed fee' conveyancing. When you are dealing with specialist legals such as lettings, self build, complicated conversion or renovation projects, or purchase of freehold/leasehold queries it is essential to ensure that you deal with someone who can demonstrate that they specialise in these areas rather than using someone who recently did non related work such as divorce or will work. All legal companies must be members of the Law Society. For more information about legals, visit our buying and selling a home factsheets and our Legal Services sections.

If you have any questions about employing a solicitor or conveyancer, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Surveyor
You need to look for a surveyor that is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. It's a good idea NOT to use the surveyor recommended by your mortgage company as they are targeted on the number of surveys they need to complete in a day and therefore don't always spend as much time as a surveyor you employ independently. Make sure you pick a surveyor that is experienced with specialist purchases such as a period building, or if you are buying for property investment, buy to let or renovation purposes. Visit our Surveying Services page and read our Surveying Your Property factsheet.

If you have any questions about employing a surveyor, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Planning Consultant
Most planning consultants should belong to the Royal Town Planning Institute. Ideally find a planning consultant local to the area where you are applying for planning permission, and even better one that used to work as a planner for the local authority as they should better understand the rules and regulations. You need to find a planning consultant familiar with cases that you need help with, for example, unusual self builds or conversions, or how to deal with planning issues for Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). For more information, visit our planning services page and read our planning factsheet.

If you have any questions about employing a planning consultant, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Interior Designer/Consultant
Interior designers are really 'born' rather than made! Most will have a flair for interior design and then hone their skills to the kind of work they enjoy. When looking for interior designers, make sure that you find someone that listens to what you want, rather than tries to impose their ideas/likes on you and your property. To find a list of interior designers, visit our Interior Design Services page and download our eBook about Interior Design. Make sure you agree a fixed price for the work to be done, either a total price or a price per room and check whether they can secure materials and workmen at better value than you can yourself. Always ask for labour and materials costs to be broken down seperately. Make sure you  have an agreement that explains what happens if you have a dispute.

If you have any questions about employing a interior designer/consultant, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Garden Designer/Consultant
It's important to make a list of the work that you want doing - is it design led or plant led? This will make a difference between the type of landscaper you employ as some prefer design to planting. You also need to know if they will carry out the work themselves or if you will need to employ someone and buy all the plants/materials yourself. Some landscapers will provide a 'one stop shop' others will specialise, so it's important to know what help you want from the outset. Many are 'self taught', but some belong to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

If you have any questions about employing a garden designer/consultant, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Architect
Architects should have spent up to seven years training to do their job. Some will specialise in commercial projects rather than residential, so it's important to find an architect that has the right experience, such as extending period houses; creating an eco friendly home; designing loft or basement conversions. You can find architects via RIBA which allows you to search by experience. The architect should meet to discuss your requirements with you for free, then spec the work and the cost. Know whether they project manage, or just produce the design/drawings for others to follow and ensure it is clear who is responsible for any issues at planning or building regulations stage. For further information, read our factsheet on building and architects.

If you have any questions about employing an architect, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Project Manager
Project managers are very hard to find - especially the good ones! Approach your local builders merchant to see if they know anyone, and/or visit the National Self Build and Renovation Centre that keeps a list of good tradesmen, including project managers. Depending on the nature of the work, if you employ a building/loft or basement conversion company they may actually allocate you as part of the fee an in-house project manager. For further information read our Self Build factsheet.
 
If you have any questions about employing a project manager, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Electrician
Electricians should be a member of one of the following organisations, Electrical Contractors Association or National Association for Professional Inspectors and Testers and each of them have a 'find an electrician' service you can use. All electricians that work on your home MUST be 'Part P' registered. Secure three quotes that break down the cost of labour and materials so you can compare quotes more easily. Ideally secure a fixed price quote for the work. Check that the electricians insurance is up to date and covers you for any leaks before and after the work has taken place. Make sure that you sign a contract or agreement with the electrician which states what work will be done, who is responsible for supplying materials, how long the work will take and what happens if you have a dispute.
 
If you have any questions about employing an electrician, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Insurance Company
There are a mass of insurance companies that you can choose from and all should be members of the Association of British Insurers, and by law, must be licenced by the Financial Services Authority. What you do need to be aware of is that some insurance companies prefer to deal with certain property types, others aren't keen on insuring homes near or on floodplains, while some are specialist insurers for Listed and period properties, or self build/renovation projects. Ideally find three insurance brokers, or specialist insurance policies to choose from. Then compare the cost of the insurance to the level of cover that you need. Make sure you know what isn't included in the insurance cover as well as what is covered. For example, do you run a business from home? Is your equipment covered? Are you insured for your belongings during a move or do you need insurance from the removal company? For more information, visit our Insurance Services page and read our Insurance factsheets.

If you have any questions about insurance companies, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Removal Company
Typically removal companies break down into three types. Corporate companies that have lots of depots and storage across the UK; smaller local companies that tend to move people locally; those that specialise in overseas removals either into or out of the UK. Ideally make sure that the removal company you use is a member of one of the following organistations. When comparing removal quotes, it's important that the removal company visits your home, particularly if there are access difficulties and you have unusual furniture like a grand piano or lots of plant pots. Make sure their quote includes a break down for packing, removals, insurance, any petrol costs etc so that you can compare like with like. Check that the staff are permanent employees rather than temporary staff often taken on over the summer months. Check what training they receive and what would happen if items were broken on route from your old to new home. When you sign the paperwork, ensure it states 'subject to contracts exchanging' or 'completing' whichever is appropriate so that if the purchase/sale falls through you shouldn't be tied into the contract. For more information, visit our Removals page and read our Removals factsheets.

If you have any questions about employing a removal company, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk

A Reputable Man with a Van
Typically man with van companies are local businesses who operate in quite a small area. Some may well not be trained at all, so make sure you get references and in particular that they are insured for any damage to your belongings. When comparing removal quotes, it's important that the man with a van visits your home, particularly if there are access difficulties. Make sure their quote includes a break down for packing, removals, insurance, any petrol costs etc so that you can compare like with like. Check any help isn't temporary staff often taken on over the summer months. Check what training they receive and what would happen if items were broken on route from your old to new home. When you sign the paperwork,
ensure it states 'subject to contracts exchanging' or 'completing' whichever is appropriate so that if the purchase/sale falls through you shouldn't be tied into the contract. For more information, visit our Removal Services page and read our Removals factsheets.

If you have any questions about employing a man with a van, contact us on 0845 838 1763 or email enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk
 

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