A brief can be as long or short as you would like it to be, but it’s helpful for both you and the installer if you have it written down and agreed before the installer puts together an estimate.
We work to all kinds of briefs, from people who have vague ideas about ‘a fire in this room, somewhere, please’, to those who present us with folders, spreadsheets and a mood-board. We really don’t mind which type of customer we work with, as long as we all understand each other.
Points To Include In Your Brief
- Your rough budget. There are invariably different ways to do things, and you can have cheap options or expensive options. If the installer doesn’t know that you’d rather go the economy route, then he might not suggest it. There are many ways to cut costs on a job (using less expensive materials, or shortening labour time). People are always reluctant to actually talk about figures, but it will save you a lot of time and misunderstandings if you could. Installers are unlikely to give off-the-cuff estimates, simply because it’s quite tricky to price a job and requires thought and a calculator.
- Your time-frame. If you want it in right this very minute, then the installer needs to know. We quite often fit on a Saturday, but we won’t mention it unless we know you need it. Equally, you might want it fitted in accordance to an existing building plan, again, the installer needs to know. Even if it’s four months away, he may have commitments to other customers.
- The fireplace appearance. The fireplace might need remodelling. The installer will suggest various looks and finishes, but you need to make sure you’ve chosen the one that complies with building regulations and that you actually like, and that fits with your budget.
- The function of the fire. If you’re using the fire 200 days a year, the installer may suggest something different from a fire you’ll use just for the odd dinner party. Think about whether the fire will also be linked to your heating or hot water system, and where you’ll store fuel.
- Other Trades. You may need a scaffolder, plumber or builder to work with the stove installer. Make sure the installer is aware that extra scheduling restraints might be applicable, and extra telephone calls or site meetings.
NB: It’s advisable to get three estimates from three different installers. If you change the brief between the installers visiting the site, make sure the competing installers are told of the changes.