The festive period can be a difficult time every year for traders and consumers when it comes to trying to arrange jobs. This year, traders are also having to grapple with shortages of materials due to the pandemic.We’ve put together some advice for consumers who are considering looking for a company during these next few months. 

Finding the right company for the job

When gathering quotes for a job, Which? strongly advises to obtain at least 3 quotes from 3 separate companies. 

Not only will this give you a good idea of the price ranges for the job, but ,if 1 company doesn’t respond, then you have 2 other options to consider. 

This time of year is particularly busy for companies, so gaining more than 1 quote increases the likelihood of you getting a response and being able to move forward with your plans.

We’d also advise not to feel rushed by businesses who say they can do the job quickly once you’ve received a quote. Depending on the sort of job you’re after, a good Trader is worth waiting for.

Consider external factors

Shortages have been reported for a wide variety of materials, such as concrete, insulation, kitchen carcassing, plumbing parts, steel, bricks, blocks, screws and many other items. The October Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components report, produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's (BEIS), showed that every month this year has seen a higher average cost of materials for ‘all work’, compared to last year. All work includes new work (such as new housing) and maintenance and repair, compared to last year. September 2021 saw the highest increase, with costs 23.6% higher than in September 2020.

There are a number of reasons for the cost of materials rising. The increasing cost of gas and electricity has pushed up production costs, while the shortage of lorry drivers has made delivery and logistics more expensive. Uncertainty over Brexit and demand exceeding available supply have also played a part. 

Amendments to quotes

When arranging a job with a company, ask to be kept informed of any predicted increases or additional materials that may be required, and ensure that your quotes are updated to reflect this before agreeing to it. 

The cost should not be increased without giving you an opportunity to cancel the contract, as the work may go beyond your budget.  

Prior to the job starting, you should be confident that you have clearly agreed on the job at hand, and the quote the business provides should be an accurate reflection of this. Traders can use caveats on quotes to explain what will happen if prices rise as work is carried out. For example, steel and bricks may increase in price, so the Trader can add this to the quote. 

Traders should also be dating quotes as of the day they are written. Quotes should then be valid for 28 (or XX agreed amount of) days. If anything is due to change after this date, it should be communicated clearly with you. If a quote has to be amended, you must be informed ahead of time and the higher price should only be implemented once you have accepted.

Clear, consistent communication is essential 

If you change your mind at any stage of the job, ensure you communicate this to the company so the company can accurately reflect this in their quotes and invoice to you. 

Keeping both businesses and customers informed helps to maintain strong levels of trust and reduces the likelihood of dissatisfaction at the end of the job.

Consumers should be mindful that rising costs and shortages are influenced by issues beyond the control of individual traders. Consistent, open communication from both sides is key.  

One the work has been carried out to the satisfactory level, be sure to leave the Trader some feedback in the form of a review. 

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