Payment Up front

So we have been without an en suite bathroom for ages due to issues with plumbers etc.  The bathroom has been ripped out but we couldn't find a fitter.  We have finally found someone but he wants part up front payment as he said he's been messed around before.  Obviously as a lawyer and knowing that apart from some plastering materials they don't have to purchase anything upfront I am loathe to go with this but husband is throwing a blue fit as he thinks (quite possibly true) that we will lose them if we don't agree.  My compromise would be to draft a short agreement - any other ideas?  Thanks

Pay him upfront but get a personal guarantee from him that the work will be perfect and completed by a date certain and, if not, he will pay you 1.5 times the cost to make any work perfect. 

He's not going to go for that is he?  Plumbers/fitters are like gold dust at the moment, literally, it's hell.  They can pick and choose whatever job they like.  The reason why we are in this position is due to the last plumber throwing a hissy fit and walking off the job because I wanted the tiles in a herringbone pattern. I didn't think that would be a big issue but it obviously was.  I suppose I could say we'll pay for the plastering materials up front with receipt and possession?  Trouble is most people will just accept payment up front not realising the risk they put themselves at.

Another innovative solution Oracle but he;s saying it's to secure the slot.  We need a bit of plumbing and fitting of the suite, plastering and tiling.  Most "plumbers" around here do the whole shebang although they may subcontract the tiling/plastering but I know these guys do it all themselves.

Pay say 60% up front - balance on completion. 

buy all of the kit in your own name

agree a 20% cash uplift in his quote if he completes by your project on time. 

If you have got reccos or references you should know by now whether he’s a good’un or not.

Assuming it’s something like a week’s job, I think 20% up front, 40% after day 2 and then the balance on completion sounds fair.

I have never ever paid upfront and never been asked. All have been by referrals so mutual trust exists. 

A decent builder or tradesman doesn't ask imo

Rog, that may be so for ‘minor works’.

When we had our £70k extension in 2002, we were asked, and we paid, 10% up front and then weekly contract payments of about 6% per week over the 4 month build.

No way is any half-decent builder going to wait for all the dosh until the end.

To secure the slot.. well if your bathroom is unusable then you obviously need the work done.  I’d say you, too, have been stung by tradesmen and offer him a proportion of the costs - to cover the materials and a bit more to show goodwill.  I wouldn’t pay the full amount upfront tho.  

Finding decent tradesmen can be a nightmare. Good luck...

Spent 50k on an extension a few years back. 10 or so. ...

Paid at the end. I was surprised but he said I trust you....

Actually that's not right , we paid it all about a week before the end now I think....

That’s odd.

Any builder at the end of a 50k job is going to be carrying at least £20k on materials, and the same on labour.

We bought some of the stuff, floors , cupboards and benches etc ourselves

He had done some small stuff for us, we got on and had trust in each other in 

Do not do this.

You are incentivising him to mess you about at best.

You are a fully paid client, you will be at the back of the queue when someone who needs urgent work comes along.

This is an extraordinarily bad idea.

There is no question of "losing him" because you are actually disincentivising him from coming on time or doing a good job.

This is not usual terms of business. 

30-45 days maybe Rog, but not much longer.

On a 4-6 month job materials will be a significant cash flow outlay.

Sorry - misread. You said he wants "part" upfront. How much? I'd print off a Jct homeowners and pay 10% up from and agree stages for the rest. And designate 10% of the agreed price as a "complete on time" bonus. 

You need to drip feed the cash


Early on a Friday morning


He will be running multiple jobs


He needs to pay his guys on all those jobs on Friday so they can go to the pub (and do coke and whores)


If you are the client who pays early on a Friday he will want to keep you on side and will do your job


You also should accept no work will get done on Friday

If you're happy to fund his beer tab/materials for other jobs/gak habit until he finishes your bathroom with limited recourse then go ahead.

If you have an ounce of sense tell him to swivel. 

The above advice came from my very good m8 (Dave) who has developed numerous houses.


He divides his time between his house in Chelsea and his apartment (in Chelsea Village) in Manhattan. His wife is smoking hot and viciously good fun. 


I have learned through life to listen to what he says.

Lol @ the delusional lawyers used to getting thousands for a bit of pen pushing getting a minor works contract. This is for a tiny bathroom! If you present this I hope he tells you to fook off. This guy has to buy fuel, pay for tools, insurance, a vehicle etc. and turn down work from non-bellends only to possibly arrive and find some dickhead that quibbles over a bit of paint on a tap and refuses to pay anything. Perhaps one of you clowns can learn how to do some DIY? Anyone that doesn't ask for this is dealing with mugs that are easily parted with too much money for the job so can carry the arseholes described above every so often. 

Most of you here sound like nightmares to work for. If I was him and I had to listen to any more of your whining I'd tell you to find someone else.

Just don't say another fvcking word unless it sounds something like. "Yeah ok mate, no problem, when can you start."

Actually don't say mate.

I hate it when posh people call me mate like they think they know how to talk to the working classes 

Don't get me wrong this rule is not set in stone. Some can get away with it / pull it off.

But not in this case I'm afraid.

And don't talk to him during the job.

If you get ripped off then hard luck, you've no other option than to take a gamble.

Are you one of these tight rich people who always try and get money off?

Broadly what simonsaid said. 

Turbolol @ introducing a jct contract for a. We bathroom. 

Id be interested to know at what point you told previous guy you wanted the tiles herringbone rather than straight, I’m guessing once he was on the job - trades h8 anyone changing the scope of the job. 

New guy presumably knows the previous guy has already walked off the job so is wary. 

Id never pay all up front, but anywhere from 10 - 30% is not unreasonable in this situation. 

The reason why we are in this position is due to the last plumber throwing a hissy fit and walking off the job

This is the reason that the plumber wants part payment upfront. The client has already had an issue with one plumber. We all know to avoid prospective clients that tell us that they've had an issue with their previous counsel.


Some rules told to me by an electrician mate:

1. Materials should always be on credit. Don't trust a tradesman who can't get this. It shows he's either ripped off the merchant or has a ccj/poor credit score. Alternatively they have taken on too many jobs and haven't been paid for whatever reason (perhaps poor performance). 

2. Some limited payment up front is probably fine. Contractually that's probably fair if it's close enough to start date. 

3. Get more than one quote. Be flexible on start time. Or at least pretend you are so you don't get stung. 


Pay him upfront. Trades don't like finishing off other peoples work. No end of videos on Youtube and elsewhere , with tradesman being ripped off, and said trades taking matters into their own hands by "undoing" the work.

A program recently showed a Lawyer who had a massive new kitchen fitted, two new ensuite bathrooms built and installed, a massive drive way done. Agreed a fixed fee of 120k by way of a written contract. She was delighted with the job, TBF it looked stunning. She paid 80 k, in various instalments. They finished 1o days early, and she took that to mean , the price was too much.

She refused to pay the balance, so they started dismantling one toilet and the beautiful kitchen bit by bit. She went mental , called the Police, and they supervised the dismantle so as to prevent a breach of the piece. She soon transfered the 40k.

Nothing as expensive as a cheap tradesman

@ Roger decent , busy trades and builders always ask for money upfront , or they will walk. They have so much work so can pick and choose.

fooking hell, just read this properly, people talking about JCT forms of building contract, demands of this and that, for a poxy bathroom FFS.

What Simon, Rob, bananna , and marshall said. Roger your case is the exception. No trades will take on a 5ok job nowadays without a third up front. They have all the usual operating costs to pay.

Any half-decent plumbing business will know how to operate a minor works contract.  If they don't, they have never been near a construction site, and therefore why on earth do you want them altering your pipes and drains

If they know what they are doing, the contract will never be opened.  A decent tradesman knows that, Bodge It and Scarper Ltd are wary of that

I built my entire house on the basis of payment against completion of certain things.

like timber delivered to site.. foundation poured.

He also just sent me the invoices direct from each sub contractor and I paid them direct.  He charged no mark up on those invoices.  

Never even paid the builder a deposit. 


whenever he did send me an invoice it was paid within 24 hours. 

I got very, very lucky with my builder. 


My builder still drops round every so often to check on the works and see if there are any issues I want fixed.  18 months later. 

He lives about 3 mins away. 

And he didn’t care when I made changes or wanted things a specific way.  As he said it was my house and I was paying for it, so if that’s what I wanted.. that’s what I got. 

… even if it meant the drywall had to be removed from the ceiling so the electrics could be moved so the chandeliers could be relocated. 

After they’d been placed in the wrong spot at my instruction.


I think the key point was though I always took responsibility for own decisions which had contributed to any fook ups. I didn’t try and blame him or anyone else for them. 

Supply vs demand.  Shortage of supply vs lots of demand.  In that circumstances, I’m not sure how any of the solutions other than “suck it up if you want a bathroom which works” will be effective.

But if not, I’ve a set of project finance precedents you can borrow.  A bit of tweaking and I’m sure that the builder will be right there pen in hand.  Or will never work for a lawyer again.



ROF letting it's privilege show again. Sad.

Just pay the working class man's terms or pay 50/50 

Not sure why some working class hero should cash flow your new shitter 

I only do this with trusted tradesmen that I’ve used before and get on with. And they don’t usually ask but if they do (eg for materials) that’s fine. 

The one time I’ve done it with unknown workers I came unstuck. They messed around and didn’t really do a good job but since they’d had the majority of the money there wasn’t much I could do. 

All decent trades want money up front. You want to sue your accountant for 30 k your lawyer will want money on account. Same applies for trades

She refused to pay the balance, so they started dismantling one toilet and the beautiful kitchen bit by bit. She went mental , called the Police, and they supervised the dismantle so as to prevent a breach of the piece. She soon transfered the 40k.


That would have been the police assisting in criminal damage. Given the police's almost universal response to anything remotely like this as "That's a civil matter, call a lawyer" even when crime have clearly been committed, I do not believe this story. 

A minor works contract is probably OTT, but you should draw up a short 'agreement' that in return for being paid X on [date] he is going to complete the following works: 1, - 2, - 3, - etc; by [date].

'Agreement' generally makes laypersons less nervous than 'contract', but this would be the documentary evidence you would rely on if anything goes wrong.

I've had an entire kitchen and bathroom done by three different tradespeople in the last 2 years and not one of them asked for upfront payment, let alone 100% upfront.

Thank you all for your comments.  Some of them very interesting.  Upshot is I wrote back and said there would be no way we would mess them around but if he was worried I could draft a short agreement.  He wrote back and said "nah I trust you guys, see you a week on Monday".  Hopefully we do!!!  I am thinking of getting references from Tradesmen for me!   I always pay within 12/24 hours and I like to think I am good to work for (always providing drinks and sometimes bacon butties if I have time).  The issue with the previous plumber was unfortunate.  He started without us having chosen the tiles and when I did he wasn't happy.  That said from the moment I met him I said to my husband that he was on edge.  He was just one hairbreadth to a massive fuse blowout.  He must have told me he;d just got divorced 3 times in an hr.  I said oh I'm sorry but couldn't entertain his woes.  He was a "funny/weird" guy.  I wasn't quite clear on what happened in my original post.  He quoted for the whole job incl building work.  The building work was completed and we paid the builder direct.  We then asked could we have a revised quote to take off the building works and it was at that point he stopped taking our calls.  If he'd have come back and said well no the job is more expensive now due to the tiles, fair play but there was just silence.  

Err no, that is simply not correct is it. There are numerous examples like this on YT. Being a bystander to the supposed act of criminal damage is not an offence is it.

This entire thread reminds me of the "should I pay my cleaner a reasonable amount" one. Professionals are generally delusional tits about the realities of being a tradesperson, and I can 100% guarantee that those on here that said "I didn't pay a penny until the end" overpaid and their contractors probably drive Range Rovers when not visiting sites.

"I needed some conveyancing done and every small firm wanted some money to cover fees etc, but Wachtel didn't charge me a penny until the Land Registry had issued the certificate." 

I totally agree we probably did overpay. BUT I have a builder who answers my calls without fail, will sort out little jobs as soon as I ask and is exceptionally helpful. Eg two fences fall down in the storm and lose 5 tiles off roof. Second on the list after his boys fix his house.

worth Every Single Pound

For the extension he was probably 5% more than the other 3 quotes.