Tips for Dealing with Craftsmen

May 21, 2019

Tips for Dealing with Craftsmen

The washing machine is on strike, the drain is blocked or the roof has been damaged during the storm: In such cases, a craftsman must be called in. But it doesn’t always go smoothly.

The costs have been exceeded, who pays?

That depends on what was agreed when the order was placed. Only the approximate costs are quoted in a cost estimate. The craftsman calculation may turn out thus higher – around approximately 15 per cent. With everything, which goes over it, the craftsman must inform the customer immediately – thus before the calculation is present. If a binding fixed price was agreed instead of a cost estimate against it, the customer must pay also only this – unless, the craftsman exceeded the price after consultation and with agreement of the customer. In any case, the customer is entitled to a detailed invoice with all individual items.

What to do if the work is delayed?

If one has the impression that the craftsmen cannot keep the agreed date for their work, one should address them immediately to it. “If they then answer that everything is on schedule, the best thing to do is to get it in writing,” says consumer protector Günter Schwinn. If, for example, a move-in still fails at a fixed time in writing, the tradesman has to bear the costs for temporary storage of furniture or hotel accommodation if the previous rental apartment has already been cancelled.

How to deal with botch-up?

If the client notices during the work that the wrong tiles have been laid or that the new faucet is dripping, the tradesman has to remove it – at his own expense. Part of the invoice amount can then be retained until the repair has been carried out.

“It is important that the customer only accepts the work when it is complete and essentially without defects,” says Günter Schwinn, construction expert at the Baden-Württemberg consumer advice centre. Because up to the acceptance the craftsman must prove that its work is without lack. Afterwards the burden of proof reverses, the customer must prove the lack, which is difficult. With the day of the acceptance also the guarantee begins.

Should the craftsmen be monitored?

If you are on site, the best way to monitor the progress of the work and the working hours is to monitor them. You can also see how many craftsmen are actually there and whether everyone is involved and has earned a wage. “In addition, you immediately know if the wrong tiles have been delivered and you can make a complaint before everyone is laid,” says Günter Schwinn. Even if you have thermal insulation installed, the presence during the work is recommended, says the construction expert. Once the insulation has been completed, it is no longer possible to see which layers were actually used.

Can a contract be cancelled again?

“The best thing to do before signing a contract is to consider whether you really want the craftsman,” says Günter Schwinn from the Baden-Württemberg consumer advice centre. In principle, you always have the option of a so-called free dismissal – even if the craftsman has already started work and for whatever reason.

The craftsman can then, however, invoice in any case the partial services which were contractually agreed and which he provided up to the termination. Also for not furnished achievements he has the full remuneration requirement. Deducted must be however saved expenditures, as for example not needed material. “For the client this usually becomes quite expensive, without a large achievement being furnished , says Schwinn.

How do you properly hire a craftsman?

What exactly is to be done? In what period? And how much money is available? Before the customer commissions a craftsman, he should clarify his own requirements – and then clearly discuss these with the craftsman and preferably record them in writing. According to Günter Schwinn, a construction expert at the consumer advice centre in Baden-Württemberg, the scope, remuneration and execution date should be clearly and bindingly regulated. Holger Freitag, lawyer of the association of private builders, advises against unclear formulations such as “start as soon as possible” or “finish as soon as possible” at the appointments. Because with the building of a house it becomes expensive, if a craftsman is delayed and the following cannot begin thereby as planned or the date of moving in is shifted.

In order to find out whether the price of a craftsman is appropriate, one obtains several cost estimates. “This should contain a detailed bill of quantities as well as the necessary materials , says Schwinn. Also one should insist according to the Verbraucherschtzer if possible on a lump sum final price, ?then one is on the safe side, if the cost framework calulated by the craftsman is blown up ?

What to do if the craftsman does not arrive at the agreed time?

The customer has made an appointment, but the painter simply does not come. The obvious way is to call. If one notices however that the date was not simply only forgotten, one should make further steps best in writing. “Only if you have sent a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt can you, in case of doubt, prove in court that you have done something,” says Günter Schwinn from the consumer advice centre in Baden-Württemberg. However, a customer is only entitled to financial compensation if the delayed start also delays a final date agreed in writing.

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