Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Home improvements: Tips for DIY or professional improvements

Home improvements

As spring arrives, many people start thinking of the jobs around the house and garden that need tackling. Whether it’s an unruly hedge or a kitchen that needs replacing, improving your house can be a daunting task and costs can easily spiral out of control.

If you attempt a job yourself without having the right tools and skills, it can be time consuming and sometimes dangerous.

Hiring a skilled tradesperson usually makes a job safer and quicker but choosing the right person can be difficult. So how do you improve your home without breaking the bank or falling victim to an unscrupulous trader?

Do it yourself

  • Be clear about what you want to achieve, and what you can afford to spend.
  • Consider your skills and tools first. Doing it yourself will not be cheaper if you have to buy or hire expensive tools or if you have to get a professional in later to correct mistakes.
  • Consider your safety. Never cut corners on safety just to keep the budget down and always wear proper protective clothing.
  • If you are buying an expensive item always shop around and compare prices.
  • Research any extended guarantees or warranties you are offered; they may not be good value for money.

Employing a professional

  • If you are calling in a professional, get two or three quotations (rather than estimates) before you offer someone the job. An estimate is usually a rough guess. A quotation is a fixed price.
  • Make sure the price you have been quoted includes all costs, such as VAT, and there are no hidden ‘extras’ that will be  added later.
  • Never employ someone who has called at your house  uninvited, offering to do work on it .This is how rogue traders operate. Seek out trustworthy traders using the Buy With Confidence scheme (see below).

‘Buy With Confidence’

If the business you employ is a member of Hampshire County Council’s Buy With Confidence scheme, you can be sure that they have passed stringent checks to show they are trustworthy. Trading Standards Officers have checked that they comply with consumer protection laws, are fully insured, provide clear pricing information and offer good customer service. They are also continuously monitored to ensure they meet the standards of the scheme. You also have the added reassurance that if something goes wrong, you will have the support of Trading Standards to try and help resolve things.

Approved traders appear in the Buy With Confidence directory. You can request a free copy of the directory by calling 01962 833358 or you can search the directory online at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk. If you search online you can easily find the approved tradespeople nearest to your home.