How to Choose a Reputable Builder

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How to Choose a Reputable Builder

Do you plan to renovate your home or extend your home? Perhaps you want to build your own home? Either way, choosing a high quality, reputable builder is arguably one of the most important decisions you will make during your whole project.  Chances are you have heard the horror stories about nightmare builders, unfortunately not all builders are created equally!  This article sets out the steps to finding and choosing a professional and reputable builder.

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Do Your Homework When Choosing a Builder

When you are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on extending, renovating or building your home, you will want to do your homework.   

A good place to start is by asking friends, family or neighbours that have used a local builder.     When you receive recommendations or visit projects, ask the clients about the quality of workmanship and how the builder handled the whole process. If possible go and see their work for yourself. At the end of the day endorsements are subjective, so you must check them out thoroughly yourself.

Go through a reputable, trusted source such as the Federation of Master Builders Federation (FMB) or the Guild of Master Craftsmen are also good places to find a local builder.  They offer strict checks, which should give you more peace of mind. 

 Keep an eye out for a local builder. Is there a builder’s board you have seen locally? There are a couple of advantages to finding a local builder, in most instances; they will have good local knowledge of the planning authority or local builder merchants.

2 words of warning: even though a builder may appear to have a good reputation online or good social media reviews, it’s still important to find out more about their workmanship and don’t go with anyone who anyone knocks on your door!

What to Look for When Assessing Your Builder

Once you have gathered the names, meet your shortlist of 3 builders and ensure they are interested (or even excited!) about your project. Think about the following when meeting your chosen builders:

  • Do they understand your budget and your needs? Do you they think they can deliver your project for the right price?
  •  Make sure your builder has experience of previous projects similar to yours. For example, a kitchen extension is very different to the complexities of a whole listed home renovation. A good builder may also be able to offer advice on design improvements.
  • Establishing a relationship with your builder is key. How well do you get along with them? Do you feel you can trust them?
  • Ask for references. Ask to speak to previous clients or see examples of their work. Make sure you see something that is recent.
  • Make certain the builder is fully, and correctly, insured for the job. Every builder should have Public and Employers Liability insurance as a bare minimum.  You should also check they have Contract Works insurance to cover damage to the new building work. (Source FSB)

Are They a Member of a Trade Association?

Are they a member of a reputable trade association and check their credentials. If you are unhappy with the standard of work and the builder is a member of a professional trade body with its own Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programme, such as the FMB, then they will be able to help. You can check here https://www.fmb.org.uk/find-a-builder.html?name

Sustainability Is Important

Here at MarbleAir we care about being efficient with our work and we are committed to our social, economic and environmental ideals. We encourage you to seek out builders who value the importance of “building green”. In many instances, building green may mean a higher investment cost. However, responsible long-term thinking offers the benefits of lower operating costs, greater comfort and sensible use of our resources.

How to Get a Realistic Quote

It’s up to you to provide your builder with as much detail as possible about your project.  The more information you provide, the more accurate your quote will be.  Be honest about your budget too. Getting 3 different quotes is a good general rule. but remember the cheapest quote will not always be the best value.

To be confident that the quotes reflect the price you will end up paying and to ensure you don’t miss anything out, the FMB recommend you put together a “tender” package.  the FMB recommend you state the following:

  • “A concise brief that lays out the details of what you do and do not want.”
  • Plans or drawings suitable for Building Control purposes if needed.
  • A full specification of the requirements of the project. Be as detailed as possible, even down to such things as to what light switches you want. If you don’t tell your builder, they will more than likely quote you for standard ones. 
  • A list of who will be expected to do what i.e. will you be project managing, hiring trades and ordering materials? Or do you want the builder to do this on your behalf? 
  • Details of planning permission requirements and/or restrictions.
  • Timescales: how long the project take with a start date (if applicable, how long do you estimate each stage of the project to take?)
  • Any site or tricky access issues you know about.
  • Does the quote include VAT and ask whether there are any other costs not mentioned.
  • Plus ask the builder to break down and separate their costs for labour and materials. ” (Source FMB)

Once you have your 3 itemised quotes, you can then compare them. Don’t panic, there may be price differentials with the quotes, but remember it may be that one builder is doing something slightly extra that the other isn’t, or worse still, one builder may try to cut corners!

Ask Questions: Communication is Key

Remember the cheapest quote will not always be the best value. Is there anything you don’t understand or need further clarification on? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have they have explored all possibilities and potential issues? Talking to them will help you find the right builder to build a working relationship with. If you’re in doubt, it’s good to check quotes with your architect.

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What Happens Next?

Once you have gathered all the information you need and hopefully now you can breathe a sigh of relief that you found a reputable, high quality builder. The next step is your contract.

Do I Need a Contract with My Builder?

Yes you do! Once you have chosen your builder, it’s important to put contracts into place.  A robust contract can reduce the chance of any risk of “grey areas” or disagreement, and provides peace of mind for you and your builder. 

The FMB has a Plain English template contract which you could ask your builder to use. Consider questions like: are there any penalties if the work is late? What happens when there are unforeseen changes, delays or prolonged adverse weather conditions? Does your builder have safeguards in place, should they arise? Will sub-contractors be used? What materials will be used and who will supply these? What happens in the event of any work not meeting a satisfactory standard? (Source FMB)

Get down to the nitty gritty and ask about the small stuff like lunch breaks, parking, tidying up, toilet facilities, skip location,  working hours, water availability, etc.

Payment Schedule

A payment schedule should be included in the contract.  If the job consists of several phases, you could reasonably be asked to pay for each stage as it’s completed and you are happy with it.  For larger projects, it’s not unusual for a builder to ask for an instalment upfront. For smaller projects a good builder will have the funds to cover the start of the project.

In Conclusion

Finding a professional and reputable builder requires you to do your homework, this may sound obvious, but you will be surprised at how many people still don’t do it! You want a builder with experience in the same type of project as yours and with the necessary accreditation, references and insurances that demonstrate their technical knowledge and professionalism. Plus, a passion for the protection of our planet. A good builder that is right for you will have a 100% understanding of your vision and be excited to share bringing your vision to life.

If you need advice about  how to choose a builder or to make full use of our expertise, please contact the team at MarbleAir.

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