Put together a detailed catalogue of services

Even if you have agreed on an all-inclusive price, with it you're not yet immune to surprises and additional costs. If the discussed catalogue of services was not precise enough, afterwards the perceptions of what was ordered to begin with can be far apart.

Detailing the services

In addition, a written bid which names a price still doesn't lead to absolute clarity. When comparing bids and when awarding contracts to craftsmen, you should place considerable importance on the exact description of the «work».

Avoid vague descriptions

It's wise to avoid vague descriptions such as «cut trees and shrubs» or «renovate bathroom». Or what does «paint room for 200 Swiss francs» mean? One painter might interpret that to mean simply getting the work done in no time at all.

For the person ordering the services there is naturally a difference whether the wall's base layer gets minimum preparation and a coat of paint is simply put on or whether the work is done properly and thoroughly. Or even worse: another craftsman perhaps entices you with an offer at a very low price, but then when putting the invoice together he claims that everything must be billed separately: material, transport, travel expenses, work to cover up or mask things, the painting of radiators or door frames, or VAT.

Watch out for all cost items

To this says Zurich-based attorney Xaver Bettschart, «You shouldn't simply place blind trust in a craftsman's bid or quotation. Quite often it turns out in the real world that the required services for the total completion of the intended construction project were not fully carried out, and afterwards they are invoiced separately as additional services which were not originally included in the bid.» Here you should think about every detail, even the question of whether the workers' trip back and forth to the job site or VAT are included or not.