It's not enough to just find a builder for your build, you'll need to make sure they're the right fit for the job
If you want to find a builder for your project, you will not only need to assess whether they are good, but also if they are the right fit for your project. If you’re building an extension, updating your kitchen or landscaping your garden, there is no point in getting in a huge building firm that specialises in self build.
On the flipside, if your plans are ambitious then you’ll want to look further than a local builder who has only built a few extensions.
Here we explain everything you need to know to find a builder and how to assess if they are the right builder for your project.
1. Find a Builder Working Locally
Finding a builder locally can have huge benefits when it comes to your build. Time on site, their knowledge of local planning, builders’ merchants and other local trades are all invaluable nuggets of knowledge that you’ll welcome on site.
You don’t necessarily have to like the style of work they are currently carrying out – after all, many people opt for ordinary extensions and new homes – but a builder can only produce what’s on the plans in front of them.
If you see a board, it’s a sign that at the very least this is a builder proud of their job and looking for more.
2. Find a Builder Other Tradesmen Recommend
Most tradesmen get used to seeing the same familiar names around the sites they are working on and often have preferences for who they like to work with — and who they see as a good source of work.
If you can engage with one of them, you can open up a whole network of local, reliable names.
3. Find a Local Builder Through a Friend
It’s a cliche we hear mentioned whenever we’re on the look out for a trades person but asking friends and family if they’d recommend anyone is always a good place to start.
A lot of trades rely on word of mouth and if you can find a builder through someone you trust and whose work you can go and visit, then you can make a decision about whether they’ll do a good job.
4. Always Talk to Previous Customers
Once you’ve found a builder you like, don’t be afraid to ask them for a list of previous customers; they should be happy to provide details if they’re confident they’ve done a successful job. This will give you an ideal opportunity to really find out what they’re like and see examples of their work first-hand.
Meeting previous customers is a great way of finding out not just about the quality of a builder’s work but also other things that are important:
5. Find a Builder Online
Bear in mind that while these sites provide a source of builders’ names who are more likely to be reliable, in no way should it be seen to replace the usual checks that should always be carried out.
A good place to starting looking online to find a builder is on sites like the National Association of Building Contractors
They have a search tool where you can find specific trades in your area and look at their references. All FMB members are vetted and independently inspected, and are checked to ensure that they have the correct insurances in place.
National Association of Building Contractors are a good places to find a builder local to where you live. They offer stringent checks, which should give you more reassurance.
If you’ve found a few contacts, take a look at their website to find out what work they cover and to see if you can look at examples of their previous work.
6. Ask your Designer to Help You Find a Builder http://nabc.org.uk/
Many local designers will have experience of dozens of projects similar to yours, in your area. Depending on the extent of your arrangement with your designer, they may be able to help you find a good builder.
Even if your designer is offering no more than a fixed price design service, they remain one of your few early contacts who will have experience of the local building scene and are still worth tapping up for a few names.
7. Ask the Building Inspectors
Local authority building inspectors are a much under-utilised resource for helping local people taking on building projects.
Although some inspectors are unwilling to do anything off the record, the majority now are progressive enough to help out self-builders and renovators looking for builders by giving hints, nods and winks as to local builders they have known well for many years.
Understand that these aren’t recommendations as much as informal guidance and no building inspector would ever guarantee a trouble-free project.
8. Beware of ‘Too Good to Be True’ Quotes
A high price is not necessarily a sign of quality in a building firm but, more than that, it is important to resist the obvious temptations of a low price. If one building contractor comes back with a quote for your work which is significantly lower than the other tender prices, you need to be suspicious.
It is far better to have an accurate and realistic quote in the first place and it is your responsibility to make sure of this.
It may just be that the other quotes are excessively high and the one firm is simply good value. But, more than likely the one firm is putting in a speculative bid to try and get the work — and aims to make more profit on the project by, for instance, cutting corners or introducing a range of extra charges as work progresses.
This can lead to disputes further down the line — when it is much more difficult to do anything about it. Either that or, as they begin to find the work hopelessly unprofitable and end up making a loss on it, they simply pack up and walk off to more lucrative pastures.
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