Finding a reliable contractor can be hit and miss at the best of times, when you are however responsible to others the task can be even more difficult and other factors need to be taken into consideration. It is not enough to get work done at a cheap price you need to ensure not just a good level of workmanship is achieved but that all relevent health and safety regulations have been taken into account.
YES - the common areas both internal and external of a residential development are classed as work places.
You will often find contractors boasting of relevant health and safety qualifications and membership of various trade organisations all of which come at a cost. So not surprisingly their hourly rates are much higher than you'd expect to pay than if you were having work done in your actual home.
On TV of late have been various internet based recommendation sites to find a tradesperson, I am not so sure if that is such a good idea and I already will feel sorry for the poor tradesperson who upsets a customer for any minor reason as they will no doubt have their name and reputation questioned by any potential new customers.
Like so many industries the bigger the company the higher the costs this has always amazed me as you'd of thought the more work a company has the cheaper they can do the work for. In other industries when you buy bulk you'd expect some sort of discount, perhaps in the block management industry someone else apart from the residents are getting the discount?
Anyone following me on twitter may have seen various tweets regarding contractors of late, at a recent visit to a potential new site in Colchester I couldn't help but notice an electrician from Basildon changing a communal light fitting. I of course assume that they charge for travelling time, on that note is there any other profession who gets paid to travel to work?
There are of course exceptions to every rule for a large project like say external decoration you may find a more competitive quote by looking further afield where the cost of living is much lower. Then I suppose you will get the arguments about keeping things local and supporting the local community and traders.
Bring back the days of Fred,the jack of all trades who lives down the road and only charges enough for a few beers!