I regularly get asked how to find a good builder.
Ideally if you are looking for building work I would recommend you use our services. However, if we are busy, then you would have to find someone else. You would not spend ££££ buying a car without researching the make and model and kicking a few tyres; similarly you need to research your builder before you part with your hard-earned cash and risk having your home ruined.
Here are a few tips on finding a builder.
Who to ask
The best way to find a builder is by asking your friends, family or neighbours for recommendations. You see some building works going on near your home and you want the same, ask the home owners for feedback and get the builder details.
If searching for builders online, try using reputable sites. Do take care and do not assume that every positive review is real. They can be “seeded” by disreputable builders to make themselves look good.
Once you have short-listed a few builders, you would need to determine if they are up to the task.
The normal path for most builders is to start as a site labourer, then learn a skill -for example bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry, electrics – than possibly move onto being a full building contractor. Some start a building firm as Project Manager. Some may be members of approved Government organisations like the Gas safe Register, NICEIC, ELESCA, Trustmark etc.
Regardless, you need to satisfy yourself that the builder you are considering is capable and ideally, has enough experience to do the work you require.
Once you have found a builder that can do your works, ask for references. Then check those references, visiting one or two projects undertaken by the builder for previous clients If possible.
A good experienced builder will have no problem with this. A young upcoming tradesman, who you feel can do your work, may not have samples of the work you require but should have samples of other works he has done.
Most importantly you need to see the builder’s past works to establish their quality of work. What may be acceptable to previous clients may not be acceptable to you.
Price and Paperwork
Once you have settled on a builder, you and your builder need to spend time detailing the scope and limits of the works to be done. There should be – as far as is reasonably possible – no grey areas of the work that may lead to disputes at the end of the project.
Do you want white electrical or chrome-plated fittings, regular paint or pricier options like Farrow and Ball? Who would be supplying the kitchen, tiles, grout, shower fittings etc.?
Agree a payment schedule that ensures that, as a client, you always have money to hand in case the builder is unable to finish. All these should be agreed on before works are started.
Even if you have done all above, sadly things can still go wrong for various reasons. It may be a clash of personality between client and builder. We see lots of Cowboy builders on TV but we have seen lots of nightmare clients too. But either way, this is the best advice I can give and good luck.