Great news! You’ve finally made a decision to start that porch extension, or turn that dusty loft into a brand new office space or perhaps you’re thinking about a conservatory so you can read whilst listening to the glorious English rainstorm above you. Whatever it is you’ve decided to do, the excitement often lasts right up until you realise you need to find a builder. Now, we’ve all seen enough of Rogue Traders, to know that thought is terrifying. Really terrifying! We’ve helped patch up enough customers, to know ourselves, just how many rogue traders are out there. It may seem like an inevitable, sad fact of life. However, we don’t see it that way. Instead, even though we know we’re the best, we’ve decided to share our trusty tips to help you find the right builder for you:
- Ask for recommendations from your inner network of friends, family members and neighbours. That way you can hear first hand how the company delivered and prices to expect for the job. If no one in your inner circle has any good recommendations then make sure you collect roughly 3 quotes – any less and you won’t have an overall understanding, any more and you might give yourself a headache. The best way is to get online, check out their websites, their reviews and if they are part of Trade Associations. After you’ve done your homework, get in contact with them and ask for a no-obligation quote. That way you can hear directly the services they offer and see for yourself whether you can work with them.
- If you have a designer or architect then ask them – they usually work with people they trust and have an established relationship with local suppliers. There’s often a local building network going on, so if you have found a designer or architect you love, then trust what they have to say. Often they will have a long list of recommendations of people who are used to carrying out their work.
- Check out boards – Builders and building companies will often how boards or placards near where they are working. If you keep seeing a board, its probably because they are trusted in the area and are therefore one to remember.
- Talk to Inspectors – Local authority building inspectors are an underutilised resource for helping local people. The whole purpose of inspectors is to make sure whatever’s built in their area is the best – therefore, why wouldn’t you get their informal guidance to find out what company the authorities like working with and what companies perhaps don’t often deliver.
- Trade Associations – By looking online, it is easy to tell if the builders or building companies you are looking at are registered with Trade Associations, such as FMB. The reason this is important is because it shows they are regularly checked on, follow regulations and can provide you with secure add-ons like insurance cover.
- Do they have a Trustmark? A Trustmark sign shows that they are a part of a Government-backed approval body that has 30 schemes operating within it, one of those being FMB. The Trustmark claims to regularly check the financial status and work of those registered with it, whilst also offering a range of benefits including user-friendly complaints procedure.
- Local Tradesmen – Whilst this has already been mentioned, there is a lot to be said about using local, reliable names. Mainly because they not only know the area, the suppliers and the quality of the materials but because they know local building regulations and how to pass local planning permission with ease. Their also familiar faces, and if their familiar that indicates that are not only trustworthy but have conducting reliable work in the are for some time.
- Avoid low prices – Whilst high prices don’t necessarily mean high-quality, low prices certainly always mean low quality. It’s important to be suspicious, think of when you buy a car – you wouldn’t trust a cheap Lamborghini as you’d know instantly something would go wrong with it. And if one quote you’re provided is significantly less than the others, then be warned that you may have been given this speculative quote in order to get your business. And that low quote will result in cut corners at a later date in order to receive profit that the business had originally lost. Save yourself the aggro of cut corners and add-on quotes by choosing the higher, detailed quote from the beginning and get the job done right.
Ways to keep the builder you love
So, you’ve finally found a builder you like – they’re consistent, trustworthy and have provided you with the details, commitment and prices you’re after. What happens next is up to you. Great builders are often busy builders, and just like you found them, they can find new customers. Therefore, if you want to keep people you want, then follow our tips on how to keep your builder:
- Use a contract – Read the contract thoroughly and make sure everything is detailed and the agreed prices are set in stone or will be agreed upon by a certain date. Contracts are used to equally protect the builder and the customer and are designed to ensure everything goes well. The builder wants your work completed to a high standard just like you do as for them it ensures a repeat customer and good word of mouth reviews. Therefore, the contract is put in place to protect both your backs and should be signed before any physical work starts.
- Pay on time – If you don’t pay promptly then this will delay your project. Don’t be a cowboy client and think you can get away with work done before you’ve paid. You don’t drive a hundred miles in a car you haven’t yet paid for, so why would building work be any different? The builder or company should set out stages of payment so that way you know what you’re paying for and what’s being done at each stage. It also means they can pay for the materials needed for your build.
- Similarly, don’t pay everything up front – One idea is to fund the materials throughout and then pay promptly on a schedule after or as stated in point 2, pay in stages agreed between you and your builder.
- Try not to change your mind – This one is a tricky one, as it is human nature to change our minds, often because we have seen something better or had a new idea in the middle of the night. We’re not saying you’re not allowed to change your mind. We’re just saying that if you do expect an impact. Big or even small changes may mean different materials, a change of schedule, maybe even manpower and higher costs, which all need to be accounted for and impact the flow of the project. If you change your mind, then expect a change in the schedule and price you were offered. Again, if you buy a car and suddenly want pink seats, then you would expect it to be more and take longer.
- Keep Communication Open – There is a pattern between customers and builders to cease communicating after the work commences. When in fact, the building stage is the most important. This is when communication needs to be kept open. By providing a transparent and open dialogue, you will know what’s happening and what’s not – meaning nothing comes as a surprise for both you and your builder.
It is not easy to pick or trust a builder as fundamentally you are trusting them with one of the most important things in your life – your home. We hope that by sharing our tips with you, you will be able to form a relationship with a builder that earns your trust and respect and who will deliver the job you want.