Employing a maintenance contractor

London 1 Stop offers some tips for finding the right maintenance contractor

A maintenance contractor is someone who is hired to complete a specific project or task. This person is not an employee, but hired as an independent business. The most common reason for hiring a maintenance contractor is in order to carry out a short-term project or repair that requires a very specific skill set, for example:
Electricians – who must be qualified to meet the task i.e NIC EIC
Gas Engineers – who must be registered “gas safe” engineers

Hiring a Contractor

Once you have done your research, interview each contractor you’re considering. Here are some questions to ask.

  • How long have you been in business? Look for a well-established company and check it out with consumer protection officials. They can tell you if there are unresolved consumer complaints on file.
  • Are you qualified and registered to do this type of work? Ask for details of all qualifications.
  • How many projects like ours have you completed in the last year? Ask for a list. This will help you determine how familiar the contractor is with your type of project.
  • May we have a list of references? The contractor should be able to give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of at least three clients who have projects similar to yours. Ask each how long ago the project was completed and if you can see it.
  • What types of insurance do you carry? Contractors should have appropriate insurance to cover public liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current. Avoid doing business with contractors who don’t carry the appropriate insurance.

References

  • Talk with some of the Contactors’ former customers. They can help you decide if a particular contractor is right for you. You may want to ask:
  • Can we visit to see the completed work?
  • Were you satisfied with the project and was it completed on time?
  • Did the contractor keep you informed about the status of the project, and any problems along the way?
  • Were there unexpected costs? If so, what were they?
  • Did workers show up on time? Did they clean up after finishing the job?
  • Would you recommend the contractor?
  • Would you use the contractor again?

Written Contracts


Ask for a written contract or supply one with your requirements. A contract spells out the ‘who, what, where, when’ and cost of your project. The agreement should be clear, concise and complete. Before you sign a contract, make sure it meets all your requirements.


What if something goes wrong?


Many managing agents, RMCs and individuals now employ a range of firms covering the full spectrum from major building companies to self-employed maintenance people. As bona-fide contractors running their own business, they should carry their own liability insurance and this should be checked by you, as the client, at the outset of any new contract. Where the same contractor is used on a continuing basis, the insurance cover should be checked annually. When checking, it is important to be certain that the liability cover extends to include the activities to be undertaken.


Where an individual is working on a full time basis, but is treated as self-employed purely for the purposes of PAYE, they will be treated by insurers as an employee. By doing this, not only will the correct employers’ liability insurance be in place, but your public liability cover will extend to include any claims arising from the actions of the self-employed person.


Health and Safety


RMCs/RTM cos and managing agents should also be aware of the following requirements from HSE.


If you have a contractor working for you, then both you and the contractor will have duties under health and safety law. This also applies when a contractor employs subcontractors.


When employing contractors you should:

  • select a suitable subcontractor – ensure they have sufficient skills and knowledge to do the job safely and without risks to health and safety;
  • assess the risks of the work - the level of risk will depend on the nature of the job. Whatever the risk, you will need to consider the health and safety implications;
  • do a risk assessment – you and the contractor should be aware of its findings. You should already have a risk assessment for the work activities of your own business. The contractor must assess the risks for the contracted work and then both of you must get together to consider any risks from each other’s work that could affect the health and safety of the workforce or anyone else;
  • provide information, instruction and training to your employees. You should also provide any information to contractors on the risks from your activities and the controls you have in place. It may also be beneficial to consider, with the contractor, what instruction and training contractors will need;
  • set up liaison arrangements for co-operation and co-ordination with all those responsible to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the workplace; and
  • decide what you need to do to manage and supervise the work of contractors and agree the nature of the controls before work starts.


Payment


Payment should only be made when the contract is completed and the obligations of the contract have been met. It is important to prevent the majority of the money being paid up front. Before you sign off and make the final payment, use this checklist to make sure the job is complete. Check that:

  • all work meets the standards spelled out in the contract;
  • you have written warranties for materials and workmanship;
  • the job site has been cleaned up and cleared of excess materials, tools and equipment; and
  • you have inspected and approved the completed work.


Maintenance Planning


Maintenance of a building is everything from day-to-day cleaning right through to repairing and painting the external elevations, roofs etc. A well maintained building should have a predetermined plan of all the maintenance tasks required. Remember, buildings require a considerable amount of maintenance, ranging from their skeletal structure through to perishable external components, and internal fitments that are subject to heavy use. A planned programme of maintenance is the optimal way to facilitate a building’s upkeep, allowing costs to be budgeted and predicted well in advance of any works being carried out. Planned maintenance programmes also carry the added advantage of helping to minimise disruption by setting a prearranged and carefully scheduled plan of action in place.


London 1 Stop is a leading facilities management company, operating across a portfolio of residential and commercial properties of all sizes in London. Drawing on our considerable industry expertise, we take great pride in offering dependable property maintenance and management services to all our valued clients. We ensure outstanding levels of quality by using the finest hand-picked tradespeople and professionals, and our cost-effective services are available to leaseholders, landlords, owners, block management agents and residential management companies. In this article we have put together some information we believe will be useful to anyone from a flat owner to an RMC or Managing Agent.


London 1 Stop
Tel: 0207 394 9748
Email: info@london1stop.net
www.london1stop.net