> Builders like litigation are best avoided!
In my experience there are
no good builders they all range from at the best,
imperfect to extortionists i.e. criminals. I would
like to be able to advise an investor to buy property
that does not need building work or is within their
DIY capability. If you do not have DIY skills, learn
it, it will save you far more money that most people
can earn working for someone else. Having said that
I could not have done what I have done without builders.
big profit in HMO’s is usually made from the
conversion of a house into a HMO. In my early days
I had enormous problems with builders with threats
of violence to me and my property from some not
being uncommon. The usual scenario was they would
give a price, start, wants payment by installments,
then demand more and could not finish the work.
Some had no intention of finishing the job, but
I only discovered this afterwards, when I had paid
out a lot of money and they had disappeared leaving
a badly started project.
problem is that most decent builders have all the
work they can handle from existing customers and
generally they do not want to work for people they
do not know about and trust. I have a team of builders
who used to work exclusively for me, but have recently
started to do work for other people and I can now
see the situation from both sides. They are like
us landlords, labeled as rogues but are sinned against
more than they sin. Many of their problems are down
to failure to get a clear specification in writing
of the work to be done. Customers are confused about
what they want, fail to give clear and accurate
instructions, push for a cheap price then change
their mind and want a quality finish but at the
price of a cheap job or complain the job looks cheap
when it was what they asked for in the first place,
fail to pay on time, demand a discount for paying,
use the builder to finance their work, use petty
reasons not to pay or delay paying and are generally
ungrateful when the job is finished. Customers have
unrealistic expectations and often get very stressed
and abusive when things are not going as they expected.
A builder’s lot is not an easy one. Getting
paid is a major difficulty and my builder’s
find over half of their customers delay or try and
Look at the person
We are now talking about
whether they should stop doing contract work for
others and go back to working exclusively for
me. This would mean I would have to diversify
into buy to renovate and sell and new build i.e.
build houses. I have yet to decide on this and
in the meantime I give them very similar advice
as I am giving to the readers, look at the person
not the price, the price is meaningless if the
builder does not do the job or the customer does
not pay. Only deal with people you trust and preferably
can sue if things go wrong.
said that it is the person you are dealing with
that is of fundamental importance, unless you are
prepared to wait two or three years and pay a premium
for your building work because as I said earlier
most good builders have all the work they can cope
with and they can charge what they want. You will
even have enormous difficulty in getting them to
quote as they usually do not want the work and will
only take new work if they can make a decent profit
out of it like a new BMW car! Some investors laugh
at me when I tell them this, ‘Won’t
get a BMW out of me!’ kind of response. In
my view it is very short sighted. Consider what
a good builder will do for you: hopefully a job
well done, on time, on price and what should not
be missed, cheaper than you could get it done project
managing the job yourself because they know all
the shortcuts and cheap suppliers. Stop penny pinching
and look at the big picture. If you do the business
right you should in 10 or 20 years time be buying
your first luxury yacht or be capable of doing so.
What is the alternative; you employ dodgy builders
who rip you off and do work that often needs to
be redone and or causes ongoing maintence problems.
The project which you had planned to have ready
to let in three months is still unfinished and unlettable
eighteen months later. Imagine the stress, strain
and loss of income.
can never beat a crook
Do not make the mistake of
thinking you can be cleverer than a crook and manage
them, you rarely can and they are streets ahead
of you and know every trick going and every string
to pull. Do not even try and reason with them, it
only applies one way with such people that are you
are expected to act in a rational or decent way,
clues to a dodgy builder
There are three clues to look
out for, to identify a bad builder, but they too
may have read my Guide and so they may hide them!
The first is they are usually on job seekers or
disability benefits which once they know you know
this they will use it to try and blackmail you i.e.
‘You are employing me while I was on the ‘dole’.
You can be prosecuted for that I am going to report
you!’ This is perhaps the most significant
clue, those who sponge off the state i.e. work while
claiming benefits for being unemployed are usually
without morals, it is the litmus test, ripping you
off in comparison is very minor to them.
second clue is they usually have a drink problem
and often turn up smelling of alcohol. Finally,
they are usually unable to give references of previous
work they have done, because everyone they have
dealt with they have ripped off. However, some are
clever in this respect and will have one or two
jobs they have kept for this purpose or have some
friends who will say they are good workers. Often
they have business cards, letterheads, invoices
etc; you can get them printed in motorway service
stations, even certificates from a college to say
they are competent or to show they belong to a trade
association. As I said earlier they are cleverer
than you and they know all the tricks.
these people have found you some are worse than
the take the money and run merchants, see later,
they cling on for dear life forever pestering you
for work, full of excuses and promising to do better
next time. They will come round to your property
on the pretence of looking for work but also to
see if they can steal anything. Try and avoid dealing
with crooks to start with and get rid as soon as
possible once you realize you have made a mistake.
all for now. Part 2 will follow next week!
Jim Haliburton www.hmodaddy.co.uk
Haliburton began buying property in 1992 and
letting them to students, organising or doing
the work on the property himself. Jim now owns
over 86 HMO's / Multi-Lets with over 500 tenants.
On top of this he has about 20 houses and flats
which are let as single-lets plus several development
projects in progress.