Choosing The Right Builder For You

24th September 2010

Finding builders is easy enough – but how can you tell if they are reliable, competent or trustworthy?

According to the Office of Fair Trading, cowboy builders have cost UK households millions of pounds in shoddy workmanship that has needed rectifying. The National Federation of Builders (NFB), one of the construction industry’s leading trade associations, is spearheading the fight back, with a membership made up of reputable builders and contractors, all of whom have been strictly vetted and have undergone a range of reference checks. Here they suggest ten tips for Optima readers to take into consideration when planning alterations or extensions at home.

1. Start your search for a good builder by getting a referral from family or friends who have recently had some work done.

2. Do not be fooled by the badge! There have been cases of bogus builders fraudulently claiming to belong to one or more official trade associations, so call and make sure they are a bona fide member

3. Ask each builder you have selected to provide at least two or three references, and then check them. Contact the people who provided the references and find out how happy they were with the quality of the workmanship and the builder's conduct

4. Once you have a shortlist of builders, obtain quotations. Get full details in writing of what is covered and what is not. Ask for confirmation as to whether planning permission is required and if they will need to apply for Building Regulations approval

5. Avoid a 'VAT-free' deal. You will not have a valid contract if there is no proof of payment

6. Put details of the job down in writing – the more thorough, the better. Your contract should outline the work to be done, start/completion dates, security/safety, catering and lavatory arrangements, disposal of waste materials and hours of work

7. Be straight about money with your builder and agree payment terms clearly in writing

8. Avoid paying a cash deposit. It should not be needed unless you request specialist building materials or the job is likely to take a long time to complete

9. Ask if the builder is insured against claims covering property damage and personal liability in the case of accident or injury

10. Communicate – it is very important to be clear and open with your builder. If you see a problem flag it up straight away rather than hoping for the best. That way both you and your builder can avoid any costly mistakes

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