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Best Practise Guide for Land Lords: Finding and Identifying Reliable Contractors, by Steph Staszko

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Author
Steph Staszko
Published
August 20, 2012
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For landlords, finding a contractor to renovate and fix property before renting it out is a necessity, but often quite an inconvenience too. With so many different contractors available both on- and offline it can seem like an impossible task to pick one firm out from the crowd. Separating the wheat from the chaff, however, is essential in the home-improvement industry; whilst shoddy wallpaper hanging can be unattractive, choosing a cowboy builder can cost lives, as well as money.

Safety Requirements

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with having your dad give the fence a lick of paint, but there are certain jobs that legally require a qualified person to complete for safety reasons. One of the most common examples would be the installation of heating- and gas-based equipment.

This is one process that can only be performed by certified professionals, otherwise any landlord renting the property out is not only in danger of breaking one of several laws, but is also potentially endangering the lives of the residents or occupants of the property. This even includes landlords who are letting their property through an agency.

Legal Obligations

The laws which can potentially be broken through the poor- or unofficial installation of any appliance that burns gas, coal or oil and create carbon monoxide are, Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and all regulations made under this act, Gas Safety (Installation & Use) 1994, regulation 35, Gas Cooking appliances (Safety) Regulations (including second-hand appliances), EEC Gas Appliances Directive, which is particularly concerned with the introduction of balanced flues.

Maintenance Checks

All appliances that burn gas, coal or oil are legally required to be checked once every year by an official. This is one method that can limit the number of potential contractors for the job, because the only people officially qualified to even check, let alone install, such equipment are CORGI or (Confederation of Registered Gas Installers) registered contractors.

Sourcing Qualified Contractors

If you’re bringing in contractors to do most types of work on a property, whether it’s an entire refurbishment and renovation or just fixing a few minor problems, hiring CORGI registered contractors is a great way to find good quality, reliable professionals. But beware - there are some bogus contractors who falsely claim to be CORGI-registered, check the Gas Safe Register site for more information and to find contractors in your area who are on the Gas Safe Register.

Another great method is to call around local estate agents and make enquires as to the companies they prefer to use for renovations. Usually, estate agents will be using professional, well-seasoned contractors, and with a polite tone and the right questions, you’ll easily get this sort of information.

If you have a list of potential contractors, either from online or from yellow pages, then try ringing them all and asking questions. If they’re professional then they shouldn’t have any issues with answering questions such as, How long have you been in the business?, Are you officially registered for this type of work?, Do you have any references for past clients I could speak to?, and so on. This line of questioning normally weeds the day-trader cowboys from the seasoned professionals pretty quickly.

This article was written by DIY and home improvement enthusiast Steph Staszko.

Steph recommends looking online for high quality fittings and shower enclosures from Liberty Bathrooms  when searching for bathroom fixtures to kit out your property before rental.