Choosing the right builder for your Project

Choosing the right builder for your new build, extension or repair can be a daunting task and due to the expense advice is helpful. Many individuals find it extremely difficult to trust builders due to the industry’s unfortunate reputation. Programs like Cowboy Builders can help by giving the right sort of advice however I thought I would give some advice direct from a contractor/builders perspective. So why should you listen to my opinion. Well it is your prerogative to choose what you read but if it helps, I am a Manager at a reputable building firm which concentrates on new builds, refurbishments and extensions. I firmly believe that there are many builders who do an honest days work at reasonable cost and I feel it’s my job to help you find them.

Where to find a trades person:

  • Through an acquaintance by Recommendation
  • Checkatrade.com
  • Newspaper
  • Online search

There is a multitude of other sources but for the sake of direction I will focus on the four mentioned above. Let’s start with a website which has grown in stature over the last few years. Many people have asked me if they should use checkatrade.com, “of course you can” is usually my reply however I normally insist that I personally have not used the site to find trades persons as working in the industry has its perks. I do however know that here are many reputable trades persons on there as a few of the sub contractors we use are registered with the site.

Newspaper searches are a little old fashioned and to be honest it is extremely difficult to tell if any of those you have identified are any good. Online searches are good but searches can become overwhelming and similar to newspapers, it is difficult to tell if they are any good. Checkatrade.com does at least offer you the best of both, you will be able to find a local trades person relatively easily but I would focus my efforts on the option below.

Recommendation is the option you should aim for if you can, as the person who recommended the trades person to you knows of good reason why you could trust them. Recommendations should however be taken with some careful consideration as to whom recommended it. If a friend of yours at your local public house knows of someone who does a bit of building work, take a mental note and utters that you should consider them (whatever you do don’t agree to anything, do a bit of research on the company/person to see if anyone else knows of them and if they seem above board if you catch my drift). The best people to approach are those whom you know have had building work done to their property. If the final result from their build was either good or bad, at least they may be able to give you some advice, from the customers perspective. I have however often heard conversations which contain ” our builder was ok but I wish I used…”. Two things: 1 – Ask why, if the person making the recommendation insists that the work was good but they had issues with the builder due to their own indecisive nature, this should not put you off the builder. We are all human, we don’t get along with everyone. You may not have got along with Einstein but he was still brilliant…I think you get where I am going with this. 2 – Ask who the builder was that they should have used.

Once you have your recommendation/s, again do more research by finding out from other previous customers what the builder was like. Use checkatrade.com as well to find out more. Don’t be put off if the builder is not on checkatrade.com as not all builders are registered with the site. From my experience and knowledge the busiest builders are generally the best. The only downside is that you may have to wait longer to have the work done on your own place. The upside is that busy builders generally do well through word of mouth and recommendations thus they are most likely to do a good job for a fair price.

What next? Get a few quotes!

Getting quotes from builders is simple. Invite them round to discuss your the work in order for them to give you a quote. The visit will very often give you an indication of the builders persona and if you will actually be able to work with them. Depending on the scale of the work some may give you a ballpark figure however most will say that they would prefer to work it out first, this is a good thing. If however you need a large amount of work done and they give you a guaranteed figure on the spot, alarm bells should ring but be stern and ask for it in writing. If I was you, I would invite the recommended builder to visit and quote first as you may find that their comments and quote will be the most honest and will give you something to work from. After a while you will get the quotes back. This is where the most difficult bit comes in, choosing the one for you. Now to start off I would recommend concentrating your efforts on the the builder which was recommended to you, their price is most likely to be the most honest and most importantly you could negotiate as they were a recommendation. Blog post on understanding quotes to follow in due course.

You will note that I focused on the recommended option. There will be other decent builders which may not have been recommended but you will need to do a lot more self convincing that they are suitable. If you are new to the whole building project scenario I would concentrate on the advice of the trusted seasoned acquaintances, they will probably save you time and money.

The link below from the citizens advice  bureau also gives good advice as with building projects it is important to understand what you are letting yourself in for.

(Copy and paste into your browser, not sure why the link wont’ work)

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/consumer_e/consumer_builders_and_home_improvements_e/consumer_builders_and_home_improvements_tips_e/consumer_choosing_a_builder_e/top_tips_for_employing_a_builder.htm

Any comments on choosing a builder or related advice is very welcome, remember good constructive advice is helpful to everyone…including myself

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