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Finding local builders is never easy though and the best ones are often always busy. That's where Top Tradespeople comes in. To find a builder in your area, describe your projects and we connect local people for quotes on projects like house extensions, structural alterations, barn conversions, new builds and loft conversions. Whether you need local companies and contractors for major work such as extensions or minor repairs, we can help you find the right people for the project. Simply request quotes and our system matches companiesUK wide, without obligation.
If you're planning to have building work done on your home that goes beyond the realms of a simple DIY project, you need a good builder. Choosing the right one is key to ensuring the project is completed to the highest standards, and observes required regulations. It's also important your contractor is reliable and charges a fair and honest price for the work, ensuring both during the process and after, there's minimum disruption to you and your home, the job is completed without unnecessary breaks and the site cleared of debris.
Here are some tips when considering hiring a building contractor:
Feedback From Customers
If the builder you choose does state they are trade body members, make sure they're genuine. Check details they provide for peace of mind. Don't be afraid to ask for references, either. A good builder will be happy to provide details so contact previous customers directly about price and quality of work. Always seek testimonials, ratings and reviews. Most good professionals will have good reviews, but be aware not all reviews online are genuine, nor two-sided arguments.
Check them out. Don't rush into accepting the first quote you receive
Insurances, Certifications, Trades Associations and Guarantees
Consider asking the following questions:
Don't restrict yourself to locals
If you live in a remote area you may need to find someone from outside your local area. Good contractors will travel for viable projects.
Get a detailed quotation
Make sure these are in writing on headed paper or from a company email address. The quote should include all details of labour and materials to complete the job. Make sure they add VAT. It's important there are no hidden costs. Ask your contractor if any planning permission or building regulation approval is needed before work commences. The more thorough you are regarding each detail and stage of the job from the beginning, the better. In addition to a complete breakdown of the work to be done, you'll need start and completion dates, security and safety issues, catering and toilet arrangements, and hours and days when work will be carried out.
Agree payment terms
Payment terms also need to be agreed in writing from the start. Avoid paying a cash deposit. Get a receipt.
Unless you work in the trade, or know how much a neighbour has paid for this sort of work recently, it can be almost impossible to come up with even a ball park figure for the work you’re thinking of having done.
Don’t worry though, because there are a few things you can do to help get a better idea of the cost of hiring a builder which you are facing.
Be Clear About Project Specifications
Before you even start phoning companies and asking them to quote for a job, you have to be very clear about what you want done.
If you’re thinking about a loft extension, is it going to be just a bedroom, or are you considering a shower room too? Will you be asking the builder to do the painting and decorating? How many windows do you want installed? Often, this will all be covered if you are required to apply for Planning Permission or a Building Control permit, as you have to have detailed plans drawn up.
For other sorts of work, make a list of the things you need your builder to do, and then when it comes to asking for quotes you will be prepared.
Do Your Research
The internet is a great resource for finding out all sorts of information about building and costs of hiring a builder, but has to be used with caution. Firstly, be selective about what websites you look at.
Remember builders’ own websites paint a positive picture of their business, so may be selective about which prices they give. Any figure you find on the internet should be taken as a very rough estimate of costs.
For example, a quick search will tell you that the average price for a loft conversion is £20,000. Depending on where in the country you live, the size of the loft and the finish you have specified, the price could easily double.
Another good option for research is asking friends or neighbours who have had similar work done recently to give you a rough idea of what they paid. For a very large project, for example complete demolition of a property and rebuilding, or building of a very large extension, think about hiring an architect or surveyor. They usually charge per hour, or you can negotiate a per project fee up front. If you choose to use a quantity surveyor, ensure you work with someone who holds Chartered Surveyor status.
Getting companies to provide quotes for the work you are thinking of having done is perhaps the most important part of the process.
Think about what companies to approach and get recommendations from neighbours or relatives for reputable local building companies.
There are various different steps in this process.
1. Start by emailing or phoning builders and explain what sort of project you are considering.
Invite the builder round to look at your property and discuss ideas with you.
2. Ask all of the builders who you contact to provide quotes in writing for the work.
There are two aspects to this which are important; you must ask for a detailed quote rather than an estimate, and you would like it to be in writing. Verbal quotes should not be accepted, although getting a quote by email rather than through the post is fine.
3. Look at the quotes when they come in. Most builders will provide professional, detailed quotes on headed notepaper.
If you get something which looks like it’s been drawn up quickly, on plain paper, alarm bells should be ringing. Check that all of the tasks you have asked the builder to do are listed on the quote, and that VAT has been added at the bottom. If you speak to a builder who offers a cheaper job “for cash” you should also be suspicious – if they’re prepared to rip the taxman off, will they rip you off too?
4. Remember the best quote might not be the cheapest one.
A builder who has a very high reputation for reliability or quality of work might charge more, and a builder who has just had a project fall through at the last minute may lower his rates to keep busy.
Weigh up all of the various factors to decide which quote is best for your project and circumstances.
5. Accept the quote.
Let the builder know – also in writing – that you wish to accept their quote. Come to an agreement with the builder about when the work will start and discuss payment for the project. Many builders will ask for a small amount upfront for materials, but this should not exceed 10% of the total cost. Always get a receipt. They may also ask for staged payments as the project progresses, and this is also reasonable. Never agree though to pay the full sum before any work begins.
However good your builder, and whatever the type of project, there are likely to be unexpected costs which crop up.
Communication between you and your builder is key, so that you can discuss the progress of the project on a daily basis and deal with problems as they arise.
If you have agreed staged payments, do this by either transferring money directly into the builder’s bank account or writing a cheque, both of which allow the payments to be easily traced. If you do hand over cash, make sure you get a signed and dated receipt.