Cowboy Builders. They give the industry a bad name and are the stuff of nightmares for anyone about to embark on major renovations. Luckily however, there are plenty of fantastic builders out there to choose from and finding one that is compatible with your project is a simple case of knowing what to look for and the right questions to ask.
We’ve teamed up with Self-Storage Facility Storage Giant, to bring you some top tips on how you can give yourself the best chance of securing and keeping a builder that will do your project justice:
1. Where to look
There are a number of routes you can take when searching for a good builder. Two of the more reliable options however, are to turn to professional trade directories, or to seek personal recommendations.
TrustMark is a Government backed approval body. It is essentially an umbrella organisation, made up a range of different schemes such as the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Roofing Contractors. Any business that you find using its database has had its work and financial status regularly checked.
While TrustMark and other databases provide a good starting point to source the names of builders who are likely to be reliable, you should still take measures to carry out your own checks.
If you have family, friends, colleagues or even a neighbour, who are in the midst of building work or have recently completed renovations, ask them if they would recommend the builder they used. A review from someone you trust means that you can benefit from a really honest opinion. Be sure to have a list of questions prepared, as you would do if you were following up on any other referral. If you’re happy with the endorsement, contact the builder directly and arrange to meet.
2. How to choose
Pay attention – When meeting a builder for the first time, pay close attention to how they present themselves. Look at the quality and upkeep of their tools, equipment and vehicle. Just from your first impression, you should be able to get a sense of their style of working and whether it might suit you and your project. As a side note, any builder worth their salt will also ask to see scaled drawings in order to provide an accurate quote.
Request references – Before you commit to anyone, you’re going to need to get some references for previous work they have carried out. You should ask to see a couple of major projects they have completed and, in their absence, talk to the owner. Don’t just make judgements based on the finished article. You should also be enquiring as to how the builder handled the process end-to-end, including the budget, logistics, attendance, and even how respectful they were in terms of noise, facilities, mess and dust.
Be patient – Be cautious about any builder who can make an immediate start. Most good builders will be busy and will often have waiting lists from between six months to a year. Be patient. A good builder will be worth the wait.
3. How to keep a good builder
Now that you have a good builder, how can you make sure that you keep them on your side?
Once you decide on a builder, have a contract drawn up specifying staged payments, as well as details about the scope of work and what is included. A contract will protect both you, and your builder, in the event of any dispute.
Being asked to pay for work that’s not yet complete could be a warning sign that your builder is struggling financially. You should be able to fund large material items yourself upfront, but you must ensure that these are purchased in your name. Lastly, do not pay in cash and only make payments at the agreed completion points outlined in the contract.