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Thomas Sanderson

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DIY or Supply & Fit Or Self Manage?

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Probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself when purchasing a conservatory or sunroom is - do you supervise/build yourself or do you employ a company to do the lot?

As with so many of life's "Questions" there are no right or wrong answers. The choice is very much dependant on the individual and I shall not be making a particularly strong case for one or the other. In this section I shall only be pointing out some of the Pros and Cons of each alternative. I will also be providing some additional links such as
Selecting a Builder and some Extra Tips.

DIY

Advantages

1. You usually save money. You in effect become your own contractor. If you don't wish to complete any particular aspect of the work yourself, such as digging the foundations, then you can sub-contract out that part of your work.

2. You can be confident that you have complete control of the final result. You will be more likely to take the necessary time over the more difficult parts or any problems that might arise. You would be more likely to "rush" the problems that might occur if you were the contractor working to a price. If you have something unusual on your site which might require a little extra attention then this can be particularly relevant.

3. You have the personal satisfaction of knowing that the work is done exactly as you want it. You know every "inch" of your conservatory personally. If you are somebody who "despairs" at ever getting a job done exactly as you want it then perhaps it's time to do it yourself. Building a conservatory is practical for just about all of us. A lot of companies now specialise in supplying to the DIY market and there are lots of Tips booklets and "How To" guides available. All it takes is some time and lots of patience. Here are some
Extra Tips if you decide to do it yourself.

Disadvantages

1. Apart from all the "hard graft" there are not many disadvantages - except perhaps that you are working for most the difficult client - yourself!.
You, and you alone are responsible for the final result, it can be quite lonely doing it yourself - especially if you come up against any problems. It requires a reasonable degree of confidence to tackle this on your own - I personally think its rather nice to enlist the help of a friend or neighbour. Perhaps you could help each other with each other's conservatory - a sort of joint effort. A second pair of hands and view point will often help in overcoming the challenges that will arise.

SUPPLY AND FIT

Advantages

1. Provided you have been careful and successful in your selection then this approach should be the most "trouble free". Note that I said careful and successful - this is the Key. You will need to research your supplier and their products especially well. This will extend/lengthen the buying process. Whilst not particularly connected with this approach you may like to review my
Selecting a Builder. The tips there are equally relevant when selecting a Conservatory Supplier.

2. Once you have selected the Conservatory Supplier for your supply and fit project then the project and its associated challenges should become the conservatory suppliers problem. You can relax and look forward to pleasant days in your new conservatory. After all that is why you selected this option, you wanted a trouble free life! If you find you are not getting this then you are not getting what you paid for. The following tips may help you in selecting a reliable conservatory company. They do exist!

EXTRA TIP 1. If  you "employ" one company to do all the work - try and meet their builders before placing a firm order. You may feel the company is the builders - but in almost all cases the company sub-contracts out this element of the work to a separate building contractor. You will most likely spend more time with this person on your conservatory project than any other. Ask them if they can foresee any problems. What do they do with rubbish? Will they reinstate around the new conservatory base after construction or will that be an extra? If you are having electrics or plumbing installed it is most likely that the builder will in turn be sub-contracting out this element of the work. YOU CAN SEE HOW PROBLEMS CAN OCCUR - ESPECIALLY IF INFORMATION IS NOT PASSED ON FULLY OR "TRADES" DO NOT FOLLOW ON AS QUICKLY AS YOU HOPED. You must feel comfortable with this person - so do take your time on this element.

EXTRA TIP 2. Unless you feel especially confident, do not go for the cheapest quotation. A bit of a generalisation I know - but rarely in my experience does the cheapest supplier also supply the best product or the best service.

EXTRA TIP 3. When obtaining quotations do not try to "beat every supplier into the ground". Most of the better companies will not wish to trade in this way - only the less professional will usually have the flexibility. These less professional companies will often "agree" to your request but end up short changing you later. I'm not suggesting that you don't negotiate - what I am suggesting is that you negotiate fairly. Make a detailed list of the features "you must have" and ask each company to give their best price. Don't expect to get a conservatory with a glass roof, Pilkington "K" glass and Argon filled units for the price of a standard double glazed conservatory with 16 mm polycarbonate in the roof.

Disadvantages

1. Using a supply and fit service is usually the most expensive way of buying a new conservatory or sunroom.

2. You may find that the complete service that you ordered is not as complete as you thought. Please see my notes and tips above. Most so called "Full Service" Conservatory companies do in fact sub-contract out various parts of the work especially if you are requesting items such as plumbing or electrics.

SELF MANAGE

Advantages

1. OK - I'll come clean - this is my preferred method. You have the most control over the final result without having to get your hands dirty! You can do a little of the work yourself or, if you prefer, sub-contract out all of the work to various trades. You are effectively doing it yourself and, as with most DIY, you will save money.

2. You can dictate the time scale and manage your finances more easily. If you are one of those people who doesn't mind this sort of thing - then you can do the work in various stages - often some time a part. For instance, you could  construct the base this year but only purchase and erect the conservatory next year or as funds allow. If you are going for a standard model then you will need the base dimensions etc and also to be confident that the model you selected will be available next year. Alternatively you could get the conservatory first. This is particularly good if you can buy and Ex Display or end or range model at discounted prices.

Disadvantages

1. You need to be confident at managing various trades. You need to at least have a working knowledge of what's involved. Remember you will be selecting each trade individually - but if you are lucky then some of the trades people will be able to introduce other trades.

2. This is probably the most time consuming of all the alternatives.

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