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Carpentry & Joinery

Is it normal for the customer to pay 50% upfront before the work is started?

The job was priced at just under a £1000

19 Answers from MyBuilder Carpenters & Joiners

Best Answer

it should be normal for a small deposit

If you bought £200 pounds worth of timber from BandQ, would you expect them to deliver it before being paid? No

If you bought something from Amazon or Ebay, would you expect the seller to send it out before payment? No

If you bought car insurance, do you think you'd be covered if you didn't pay some of it up front??? No

Why do people think builders/ trades, should supply everything up front for free and interest free at that? Because that's what builders have always done. No other business area in the world supplies anything up front freely... reason for this because it doesn't work well for a business to do that.(even my builder charges up front now) You pay before you receive...otherwise the business loses twice as much revenue.

You don't really know each other, but even with the best intentions in the world things can go wrong...

Say you decided not to pay(or couldn't pay) your carpenter on completion... he's down the grand he's not been paid, plus the cost of the materials and he's lost a few hundred pounds worth of time, when he could of been earning money probably nearer two grand in all...

I honestly think builders in general, should move into the 21st century with deposits. Most builders are very good trades and decent people but completely daft to lay themselves wide open to unforeseen payment problems...

I apologise for the long answer but all builders should ask for small deposits, because it's beneficial for their businesses to do that.

Hope this helps


Answered 19th Dec 2011

It seems on the high side (many people charge around 25-30%) but as other people have mentioned it depends what the work is as to what percentage is for materials.
Just make sure you get a receipt for any deposit whatever you decide.
I response to Hampshire Carpenters argument that you can't get stuff from B&Q etc. without paying upfront I believe he needs to remember that you get what you pay for straight away and can easily return damaged/faulty gods with a receipt whereas giving money to a tradesman upfront means you are taking a leap of faith that he will not run off with your money so it really is important to hire someone you feel you can trust which can be difficult with someone you've never met before.


Answered 5th Dec 2011

Absolutely not,

We only take a 20% deposit and that is for work which is priced over £10,000. Other than that all of our work is paid when the job is completed and the customer is satisfied with the work carried out

James Soper

Milton Sqaure/Glass home imrprovement


Answered 16th Nov 2011

I never ask for any money upfront. regarding materials, I get a quote for the materials from a builders merchants which has a order code printed on it, this way the customer can arrange payment to the merchants directly, either over the phone or going into the shop to pay.

I have had customers ask if I want money to pay for the materials, but I don't feel comfortable doing it that way. the only money I like to deal with is the money I get paid for the work I have completed

if it is a small job, like a couple hours repair work, I will pay for the materials myself upfront if its less than £100, it is just more convenient for me and the customer if I go and get the materials in question.

regarding labour.
if the job is a long job I will normally ask to get a payment at the end of each week, but each job and customer is different. I once did a 3 week job and didn't get paid till the end of it because I was comfortable and 100% trusting with that customer. the customer did keep asking if I wanted some money, but I kept saying we will sort it later. bit stupid of me really because it only takes a customer to have money issues or maybe to go bankrupt and I would be out of pocket.

Walkden Bricklaying, Huddersfield


Answered 9th Feb 2013

hello get him to acept stage payments and sign a contract and never give 50%deposit


Answered 16th Nov 2011

NO this seems a bit much it can be normal for a contractor to ask for money up front to cover cost of materials already ordered to start the job and then be paid in work carried out installments .


Answered 15th Nov 2011

Hi I think 50% up front is to much,i only ask for part payment as the job progress.Always get a receipt.
Regards Trevor.


Answered 16th Dec 2011

No this isn't normal, but times are very tough for a lot of tradesman and they can't risk not being paid ( and people are taking advantage) It sounds to me that you don't trust him, maybe it would be better if you found somebody else to do the job.


Answered 16th Nov 2011

all i can say is, check his profile, assuming you have hired them from, if they have really solid positive feedback, from a fair number of jobs won, then in theory you have nothing to worry about, as if this person uses this as their standard way of operating and so far none of his customers have been dissatisfied with their work, then surely this confirms their credability as a tradesmen and the chances are yo n't get ripped off and you will have to pay this money at some point.


Answered 22nd Nov 2011

I personally would always ask for a % deposit up front. As i am a sole trader there are two reasons for this-
1. If i paid out of my own pocket for materials, once they are on the customers land, they become THEIR property.
2. If i had to employ other tradesmen and the customer doesn't pay, i don't want a load of angry builders on my doorstep on a friday night, demanding their wages.
A customer even with good intentions may not pay through no fault of their own i.e. through illness, redundancy or some other personal crisis.
I would always provide written and signed contracts and staged payments by online banking so it's traceable and provide receipts for all money received.
Never be out of pocket as it could ruin a small business like me.
Finally, to all the people talking about getting materials on credit, IT STILL HAS TO BE PAID FOR eventually, it's not free.


Answered 22nd Mar 2019

I agree with J Chappell...............
it's not the norm no,but do you know his/her circumstances?
He/she might of been stung on a few jobs by cowboy customers so maybe he/she's now doing this to cover him/herself.
Please bear in mind that you may be a good payer with good intentions but he/she will not know this.
If you don't feel you trust him/her & paying 50% upfront,then find someone else but if you feel comfortable & you've done your homework on him/her,then i don't see a problem.



Answered 17th Nov 2011

50% does seem a lot , paying for materials upfront is not unreasonable. The cost of materials should be on the written quote.


Answered 30th Nov 2011

It is nice to see what you are paying for before you pay.
Best to pay in stages (the stages agreed by both parties before the work starts), so you are happy with the work which is being carried out before you pay.
Trust works both ways.


Answered 26th Nov 2011

50% of deposit is quite alot, 25% that is reasonable at the begining


Answered 20th Nov 2011

depends basically on what is being done.

if there is a lot of expensive material required tradesman may not have an account so therefore have to purchase this material.

if he has been short changed in the past this may put him off trusting customers with a large outlay.

as you do not say what is being done it is hard to give a proper answer.

most people will say no
but if your paying out £5k for material £2k for labour

personally i would require a £4k deposit


Answered 16th Nov 2011

i usually ask for around 20% depending on the cost of materials sometimes i ask for interim payment if i use more labour or its a long job


Answered 28th Mar 2012



Answered 15th Nov 2011



Answered 15th Nov 2011

We always ask our customers for 50% upfront payments. It's like a confirmation the client has got money allocated for the job. We also spread the rest of the payments into 3 or 4 installments to make sure the client pays for our work. As contractors, we are not employees in someone's company, it's not a job where we don't have to be worried that the company won't pay us on the last day of the month. It's our business and we want to avoid a situation where we have to run after clients to be paid.

Each client is a stranger. Why would anyone agree to work for someone for a week, for a fortnight, for a month and be paid at the completion? Especially if there is a team of people that needs the money as well. We tradespeople should be concentrating on the work not on "will I be paid, can I trust him?".
There are reviews, there are websites, there are previous customers that can be contacted. Any client can ask for references in any situation if there is uncertainty.


Answered 25th Aug 2021

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