10 Steps to Finding a Good Builder

publication date: Jun 14, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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10 Steps to Finding a Good Builder

Before the credit crunch, good builders were hard to find and you had to sometimes wait for up to a year before they were free to carry out work on your property. However, now with new homes being built at an all time low, they are easier to find – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to choose your builder with care.

Builder Checks
1. The builder is who they say they are!
2. You need to verify their material and labour costs.
3. That they understand the job in hand and exactly what they are responsible for.
4. Ensure they know exactly what quality of work you are expecting.
5. Understand how and when you will pay for materials and their work.

Top Tip One: Is the builder who they say they are?
Some builders claim to be other people when securing references and have even been known to pretend to be the brother – who WAS a good builder. Unfortunately they were not the brother.
Top Tip Two: References
Try to get references or make sure they have been independently verified, for example, Federation of Master Builders, or the OFT’s Trademark.

Top Tip Three: Agree in Writing
Ask them to quote for the job in writing, ideally signed on company paper. Check whether the work includes VAT.

Top Tip Four: Quotes
Ensure all quotes are separated out by job, both for materials and labour costs.

Top Tip Five: Responsibilities
Agree who is responsible for ensuring the work adheres to any plans passed by the local authority planning office and building regulations AND who pays for any work that has to be re-done to secure the certificates.

Top Tip Six: Start and Finish Dates
Agree a start and finish date and penalties if the builder doesn’t finish on time, as long of course if it’s their own fault, ie you can’t penalise them for not being able to work due to bad weather.

Top Tip Seven: Contractors
Ask for references of any third party tradespeople the builder employs.

Top Tip Eight: Insurance
Check the builder has the right insurance cover, which includes insurance should something go wrong with the job, the builder has an accident and can’t continue, cover for materials, any third party labour.

Top Tip Nine: Clean up!
Make sure that you agree who cleans up after each day – and what happens if you don’t have use of toilet, bathroom and/or kitchen facilities.

Top Tip Ten: Payment Schedule
Agree a payment schedule upfront, what you pay for and when. Always agree to keep 10% of the cost of the job back after the builder has finished the work and left the site just in case there are any problems after the job has finished. Agree who buys the materials, where they are kept and who is responsible for replacing them if they go missing.


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