Question: ‘We want to have some major work done on our house. What’s the easiest way to find a builder who’ll do a good job at the right price?’
Joanne Sims from NABC says: There are two ways to finding a good builder. The first, do thorough research and get recommendations from friends and family. Ask your potential builder for a list of previous clients and contact them direct, prepare in advance a list of questions to ask them.
The second route is simply by using your own intuition, why would you invite a stranger into your home and agree to give them a potentially large amount of your cash when you know nothing about them.
When you’re going through the process with builders, there are some basic rules to adhere too. How do they present themselves and have a look at their tools and vans etc. They should ask you for specification drawings to together a quote. Most issues happen with variations from the original drawings, so try to ensure the drawings and specification you give to the builder are right. Then agree on the full details and costs upfront. Once you have chosen your vetted builder, draw up a contract specifying staged payments, don’t pay in cash, you can use one of National Association of Building Contractors free downloads for this.
You can find National Association of Building Contractors members at www.nabc.org.uk, they offer a full list of Vetted Builders and Accredited Builders. For additional protection, you could join the Home Improvements Guarantee scheme which offers work and financial guarantees to the homeowner at no extra cost.
Most good builders are going to be busy, so won’t need to advertise, and you will have to wait for them. Be cautious of anyone who can start straightaway.
Try to get at least three different quotes for your project. Once you have analysed them and chosen one or two that look realistic, you can try to negotiate on areas where one has charged more than the others.
It is always wise to be cautious of quotes that appear too good to be true – they usually are. If a single quote is much lower, it’s likely to either have omissions, or the contractor may be planning to make up the difference once they have secured the contract, by exploiting loopholes in the specification and tender documents, or by overcharging for later variations to the contract.