Creating a contract

The power of a written contract cannot be underestimated

Most of the time, you quote for a job, do it to the best of your ability, the customer is happy and they pay you. However, things can go wrong and we often hear complaints from customers and traders when there has been no quote or contract in writing. This leaves both traders and customers dangerously exposed, because it is one person’s word against another if something goes wrong.

And what about when you’ve got a contract in place, start work but then another problem crops up that requires additional expense? In this situation, it is essential to re-quote and get the go-ahead in writing.


Remember to requote

One of our members is Lynn Vallance, company director of JTM Plumbing and Heating Services. She warns: “Sometimes with bathrooms you get different levels of flooring, walls that aren’t square – it makes tiling difficult when things don’t line up and can add an extra cost.”

The danger of not re-quoting is that the customer often doesn’t realise the job is going to be more expensive. When the work is done, they may expect a bill that matches up to the original quote. The best protection for you and your customers is to have all your processes clearly laid out in writing and to stick to them.

In Lynn’s case, she found the Which? Trusted Traders assessment checklist helped her business ensure that all the right policies and paperwork were in place.


The checklist:

Think about the worst-case scenario and have a procedure to deal with it.

  • If the quote changes mid-job, be sure to get a confirmation in writing from the customer that they are happy with the new price before you continue – even if it delays the job.
  • If you use T&Cs, ensure that the customer has read these prior to the job starting and get an email confirmation to confirm they have read and understood these fully before signing the contract.
  • Take before and after photos of each job. Email them to the customer at the start and end of the job and get confirmation that they are happy in writing.


This article first appeared in the Jul/Aug 2019 issue of P&H Engineering, the magazine for members of the CIPHE. Find out how to join here.

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