Archives for February 2016

Top tips on how to spot a cowboy builder

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Top tips on how to spot a cowboy builder

When you employ a builder, it’s sometimes very hard to tell at first if they are trustworthy and reliable.

But there are some tell-tale signs which can help you spot the difference between a cowboy builder and the genuine thing.

Be very careful about taking on a builder who:

  • offers very cheap quotes or estimates – this could mean they are a cowboy, or could not be experienced enough to give accurate figures
  • Courtney Builders will provide you with a realistic competitive quote for your project.
  • is unwilling to put a quote or estimate in writing – this could mean they don’t intend to stick to it
  • All the work Courtney Builders undertakes is detailed in a clear comprehensive document.
  • is unwilling to offer references
  • Courtney Builders are happy to provide you with previous customers details.
  • is too keen to start the job straight away – cowboy builders often do lots of work in one area before moving out of the area altogether. They often leave very poor or unfinished work behind and are impossible to track down
  • We are kept very busy and sometimes are unable to start new work for 2 to 3 months. 
  • is unwilling to offer you details about their business – for example an address or landline number
  • All Courtney Builders details are available to view on their website and many of the social media sites.
  • claims to be in a trade association when they are not – you should always check if the builder does belong to the trade association. If they don’t, it means they’re dishonest and probably committing a criminal offence
  • Courtney Builders have been a member of the Federation of Master Builders since 2008.
  • claims to work for a company with a good reputation when they don’t – check they work for who they say they do. If they don’t, this means they’re dishonest and you’d be better off not using them
  • Courtney Builders carry out their own work.
  • doesn’t offer you a contract, or doesn’t sign the one you give them
  • Courtney Builders provide a comprehensive detailed breakdown of any project and can offer additional customer protection with the Federation of Master Builders.
  • asks for money up front -a reliable builder won’t ask you to do this, not even if they need materials. If they run a business, they should have enough money to cover these costs themselves and only ask for payment once they’ve completed the job, or done a reasonable amount of work
  • Courtney Builders provide a detailed payment schedule designed to look after both parties and are very flexible in terms of accommodating certain requests. 
  • gives a detailed quote and schedule of work but then not follow it
  • We at Courtney Builders pride ourselves on being Professional, competent and honest.
  • doesn’t charge VAT when they should – if they are a small or new trader, they may not need to register or pay VAT. It depends on how much work they do in a year. If they should be registered, they could be avoiding paying it, to save money and charge less than others. This is dishonest and against the law
  • Courtney Builders are registered for Vat.
  • only accepts cash -if a builder only offers to accept a cash payment, they could be acting dishonestly by saving on paying out for VAT
  • Any builders working for cash will not guarantee their work!

Original article adapted from The Citizens Advice website.

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Garage Conversion – Key Considerations


Garage Conversions – Key Considerations

Converting a garage  doesn’t always need planning permission as it often falls under ‘permitted development’. But it’s important to check permitted development rights still apply before starting any work, even if just for your client’s sake.

Converting a garage will always need a Building Regulation application. A Building Notice application where detailed plans aren’t needed will usually do, although a Full Plans application with a fully detailed specification will give you and your customer more security about what work needs to be carried out before you commence on site.

Here are seven key considerations for a good job.

You must ensure the foundations are strong enough to carry any additional masonry loads. A new inner skin on the external wall or filling in the garage door with brick & block and a window will all add extra weight. Check the condition and suitability of the existing foundation or floor when the door infill area is excavated. If there isn’t a foundation below the existing garage door you cold carry the new wall off a suitable lintel – talk to your building control surveyor.

Check the existing walls for stability and make sure there aren’t any defects. If satisfactory, then your building control surveyor is likely to consider it suitable for structural purposes. If it’s single skin with piers and the piers are  being removed, the wall will be weakened and should be tied to a new inner leaf using remedial wall ties.

If you’re dealing with a wall of single leaf construction, you must treat to make it weatherproof. Treatment options include tanking the wall using a vapour permeable membrane linked to a damp proof course or membrane at floor level, or providing a lightweight blockwork inner leaf with insulation in the new cavity. In all wall types, care must be taken to ensure the floor membrane laps with the DPC in the existing walls.

You must insulate the walls, roof and floor to habitable standards, your building control surveyor or designer will help you choose the right insulation. Remember that you may need to add or increase ventilation to the roof voids. Where lining the garage with an independent stud partition, the insulation should be fitted tightly between the studs – using insulated plasterboard is best to avoid cold bridging.

Windows must have openable vents of an area equal to 1/20th of the floor area of the room. You also need 5,000mm2 of trickle vents to provide background ventilation. And if the new room can only be accessed via another room, a window with a clear opening of 450 x 733mm is a must for means of escape.

Any party wall between the garage and an adjoining property will need to be insulated to stop sound transmission. Check the existing wall construction – anything less than 200mm of dense blockwork will usually need further work, which may include additional masonry or specialist independent acoustic partitions – your building control surveyor will be able to advise you further.

The requirements of Part P- Electrical safety in dwellings will apply to the new conversion, so ensure any installations are compliant and certified to BS 7671.

Original Article from: LABC Article

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New Website Launch

Latest News: New Website Launch

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new look, new feel website.

The new responsive theme should make this website viewable on all devices.

For a short while some legacy pages from the old website will still appear.

In the meantime we’ll carry on building, both the website and the extension we are currently involved with in Bramhall.

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