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- Ask for references and names of previous clients. Speak to them and look at their previous work, if possible.
Deal with an established firm
- Make sure they have an office address, telephone number and use headed notepaper.
- Check they are a member of a reputable trade association, and if VAT is being charged, make sure there is a VAT number shown.
Be clear about what you want
- Get a written estimate.
- Agree any stage and final payments before work starts.
- Get more than one estimate.
- Avoid changing your mind halfway through a job – it usually costs more and causes delays.
What to look out for
- High pressure sales people from so-called specialists.
- Do not sign anything you have not read or do not understand.
- Advance payments, particularly at the start of the job, should be avoided.
- Demands for cash payments. You are only fuelling the black economy and putting yourself at risk from rogue traders.
What to do if things go wrong
- Speak to your decorator if you think things are not right. Try and resolve problems quickly, do not let them fester.
- If your decorator does not sort things out after you have spoken to him, put your complaint in writing.
- If there are still problems, get further advice. Depending on the problem, consult a solicitor, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards, Building Control or Trade Association.