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Dear John and Cristina,

Sign a contract, please. Always.

You might think that is not a big deal, maybe you know the lads that will be doing the works.

The person that came to your home to discuss the work and drank your coffee or tea may seem nice. Most likely he or she is actually very pleasant, but when things go wrong, you may see another side of that person.

Think about it, they may genuinely made a mistake when pricing for your job, perhaps they underestimated the soil removal that was required after excavating your footings. Now they have pay for additional grab lorries from their own pocket. Surely it is not your problem, but since there is no a contract, they may come to you and tell you that they need to charge you extra.

You reluctantly accept the first time, but the same things happens again a second and even a third time. Then they start invoicing you weekly which you were not expecting and it was never clarified at the start of the works.

These are the type of situations that a contract may not prevent entirely, but it will give protect your investment, your peace of mind, and the space that now it a dream but hold the future that you and your family long have awaited to have.

Contracts hold builders (and you) accountable and provide indications about what to do when things go wrong. There are standard building contracts in the market with fair and well-thought-out clauses that make the process of putting one in place considerably faster.

Now, if your builder is suggesting you sign their bespoke contract, give it a thorough read and seek professional advice, if there’s even a whiff of confusion.

Wishing you the finest of luck with your project.


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The word ‘Alma’ can be a given name, but in this case, it represents an idea. It means ‘soul’ in Spanish. The purpose of this column is to help, always remembering that the person asking may not be familiar with construction terminologies and it is seeking for a straight forward answer, but also for a touch of empathy and understanding.

Anything related to your building projects. Ideally something very specific about a particular situation you’re facing during your project.

This section is born from a desire to provide helpful advice to people and families feeling overwhelmed with the gigantic task that is renovating, refurbishing, extending your house, or even building a new house entirely on your own. Here we answer your burning questions with a bit of a personal touch and soul.

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