Choosing a builder to work on your home is a very important decision. If your building project is not carried out to a sufficient standard, you could be left with escalating costs and a great deal of stress. This article overviews 7 great tips to help you choose the right builder. Follow this guide and you will be more likely to make a good decision: |
1) Find out how long the builder has been in business.
Ask the builder how long they have been in business, and try to verify their answer. If the builder is a Limited company, you can check the date of incorporation on Companies House. If they are a sole trader, you could call HMRC or Customs and Excise (if they are VAT Registered) and try and verify when the sole trader business was formally registered. Just making these enquiries may uncover things that shed a bad light on the builder. For instance, if they have never formally registered their business and are not declaring income for tax purposes - is this the kind of person you want to deal with? All being well, you will find that exactly what they have told you is readily verifiable, with little effort.
2) Does the builder have a permanent business address.
Ask the builder for their business address, and verify it. Again, if the builder is a limited company, you should be able to find out the trading address and registered office address from companies house. If they are a sole trader, you could verify their address through HMRC or Customs and Excise. If it is less than straight forward to find out and / or verify the address of a builder, then this should raise some alarm bells. Any business who does not have an easily identifiable address is likely to be one that does not want to be found. Reputable business want to be found.
3) Request and validate 'recent' client testimonials.
Always ask for the contact details of at least 3 past clients of the builder - and make sure you speak to each of the 3. Ask for some detail about the work carried out, when it was carried out, what was the cost etc... The more detail you can get the better. Try to establish whether they have any personal connection with the builder. If possible, ask if you can visit to take a look at the work that was carried out. A real client will usually be more than happy to show off their new extension if they have been genuinely happy with the workmanship of the builder.
4. A thorough quotation = a thorough builder.
Less reputable builders are likely to provide quotations quickly and with only very basic effort. It will not represent any detailed thought process, and will often just be a ballpark estimate. You should beware, as this lack of attention for detail could end up being the attention to detail that the builder puts into your building project. A detailed quotation, where the builder has broken down the project and costed each individual element should fill you with more confidence that you will get what you are being offered.
5. Education, education, education.
Educate yourself about the type of project you want carried out, and make sure you are clear about average / expected costs, likely duration and general materials used. There is a wealth of information on the internet, so it is quite straightforward to spend some time educating yourself. Make your knowledge clear to the builder. If it is clear they know what you are talking about, they are less likely to try and take advantage.
6. Is the builder adequately insured, and what cover do you get on completion.
Ask the builder about insurances and warranties to cover their work. Ideally, you should be covered both during the work is being carried out for any collateral damage caused to your property, and after the work is finished. Make it clear that you will require written confirmation of the insurances / warranties covering their work before you proceed.
7. ONLY EVER proceed on a FIXED cost basis with a WRITTEN contract.
Never, ever go ahead unless you have received a clearly detailed FIXED cost for the project - and you have a WRITTEN contract.
Hopefully these 7 useful tips will help you make a wise decision when choosing a reliable builder. Don't cut corners - and don't get carried away by slick salesmanship or a cheap quote. In fact, you should never choose a builder just on price - as the cheapest quote often ends up being the one that will cost you the most.
As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for" - and never has this been truer than with the building trade.
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