By Ian Maxey, Project Manager for Hand Picked Hotels

My name is Ian and I have worked in project management and construction for over 30 years. I have worked for Hand Picked Hotels since it was founded by Julia Hands and have a real passion for design and build and I have learnt some great tips throughout my career to help you with your home development projects.

Must dos before you embark on your next home project:



When planning building work it is best to have an idea of what it is you would like and the budget you can afford before you engage a contractor.


Word of mouth is the best form of reference, ask your friends or neighbours about the performance of their contractor, did they complete on time and what was the quality and finish like. When you meet with contractors ask for references and a list of previous clients,  go and see some of their work and ask the clients how their project went.


Obtain 3 quotes for comparison, check that the companies are all federation members, you do pay a premium for this but the extra cost is worth it. Contractors that are not will be cheaper however if something goes wrong you will have the federations backing to get the work completed, using a contractor that is not could cost you dearly. Don't always choose the cheapest quote, some contractors will come in under budget and then add in extras based on the fact they had not allowed for items. 

Payment terms

Don't agree to cash up front unless there is a valid reason, if the contractor is reputable then they will have trade accounts so there should be no reason to pay upfront, sometimes a deposit is required, 20% is the norm. If extra work is required ask for quotes and agree these before they proceed with the work. Agree terms of payment, ideally staged payments when milestones have been reached, this way you can see what stage they are at and what you are paying for. Don’t pay the final staged payment until works are completed to your satisfaction.


Make sure the contractor is insured and request to see copies of their insurance before they commence work. Depending on the size of your project you might want to notify your insurance company of the impending works.


Have progress meetings with the contractor, communication is key and make notes, you will find these invaluable in times of a dispute.