If you’re thinking of renovating or replacing your staircase, you’re choosing to make a big investment in your home so it’s important to make sure you choose the best company for the job. Many homeowners are wary of ‘cowboy builders’, but as these cowboys don’t wear 10 gallon hats and ride in on a horse – so how to you spot them?

Our guide isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ model, but it’ll help to give you an idea. Some legitimate smaller companies may not have the same resources as others – but if you see too many red flags – walk away…

– Listen out for recommendations. If you know someone who has used the company before and had a good experience, chances are you’ll have a good experience with that company too. At Abbott-Wade, a high proportion of our business is based on recommendations, so we know we’re doing something right.

– Most legitimate businesses will be registered as a Sole Trader or a Limited Company like Abbott-Wade and registered with Inland Revenue or Companies House. If they aren’t – be wary.

– Look for an established company. It’s great to support new businesses but for peace of mind look for a company who has built a strong reputation of a number of years like Abbott-Wade (est. 1996). A 10 year guarantee doesn’t provide too many assurances from a company only 12 months old!

– Make sure they’re prepared to put their quote in writing, if they don’t – they may not want to stick to it! Our design team will provide you with a written quotation when they visit you outlining the work to be completed.

– Many rogue traders won’t ask you to sign a contract (but neither will some legitimate small businesses). You’ll find our Terms and Conditions on the reverse of your sales agreement and you will be emailed a link to the latest version upon order or on request.

– Ask for their business details. Many rouge traders may be reluctant to share anything other than a mobile number. If you can, get an address, landline number and their registered company number.

– Many legitimate businesses’ (but not all) will be a member of a trade association. Abbott-Wade have chosen membership with the Furniture Ombudsman because of the high level of confidence we have in our own work.

– Legitimate companies are more likely to use a branded work vehicle, though not always. Branding vehicles is expensive and shows that the company isn’t a fly-by-night business. We proud to have built our brand and reputation for over 20 years, so we’re proud to show off our livery on our vans.

– Be wary if you are asked to pay up front before the work is completed. At Abbott-Wade we only ask for a 20% deposit for renovations upfront and 35% for new flights to contribute towards material costs. We only ask for such a small proportion compared to other companies because we’re confident that the work will be completed to a high standard – and this instills confidence in our customers too.

– Many rogue traders will ask for all payments to be paid in cash. Abbott-Wade are equally happy to receive payments by cheque, card transactions or by bank transfer.

– Make sure you know what you’re getting – and get it in writing. If you’re having a staircase renovation, you can be assured that Abbott-Wade will replace your newel posts, use safety glass and prefinished materials. Some companies may leave you with substandard parts or to foot the bill of a French polisher or painter to finish the installation.

Remember: Choose wisely and remember to get several quotes, ensuring they are quoting like-for like.

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