Choosing Your Builder
If you are planning any work to your property and need to employ a builder you should consider your choice very carefully. You may be about to make one of the largest investments of your life and you should thoroughly check out any builders before employing their services.
Here is a list of things you might think about doing:
- Consider employing a professional to advise you. Typically this could be an architect, architectural technician, surveyor or engineer.
- Talk to your professional about the work s/he will be responsible for. (It might be that s/he will only prepare plans for planning and building control approval, or will s/he prepare full working drawings showing exactly how the project is to be built with a detailed specification the builder can follow? Will s/he supervise the work on site on your behalf once work commences?)
- Whether you employ a professional or not, do ensure that you have obtained the relevant statutory approvals (telephone 01453 754871 if in doubt) and inform Building Control once you intend to start work. Don't pay your builder until a completion inspection has been carried out by one of the Stroud District Council's Building Control Surveyors. (The Building Control Surveyor may identify defects during the completion inspection and if your builder has moved on to another project it may be difficult for him to return to your job.)
- Always obtain at least three quotations and compare them to ensure that each builder is pricing for the same amount of work. (This is where a full and detailed specification is very useful.)
- Don't automatically pick the cheapest quote. (Cash in hand prices to avoid VAT are associated with a history of related problems with quality of work and delays).
- Look for a builder who is part of the Government's 'Trust Mark' Scheme.
- Be wary if asked for large deposits or payments before work is carried out.
- Consider taking out a warranty for a new build, such as the LABC New Home Warranty, NHBC Warranty etc.
- Use a simple form of contact to agree joint responsibilities, such as the The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) is an independent body and has produced the Building Contract to make life easier for you and your builder.
Ask the builders questions:
- Where have they worked before? They may have photographs of other projects.
- Are they happy for you to see their work and ask questions of previous customers?
- What are they good at? (Their particular expertise)
- Are they insured? (Don't forget to inform your own insurance company about the work)
- Will they sub contract parts of the work to other builders/tradesmen?
- How do they want to be paid: on completion or in stages?
- Can they supply references from satisfied clients?
- Are they happy to accept a retention clause? (This is where you hold back say 5% of the cost for six months following completion to assure yourself that work such as remedying warped doors or shrinkage cracks can be financed. The builder would be paid the 5% once he has returned to remedy any defects)
- Will the builder give you a start and completion date and will they agree to a reduction in cost if they don't complete on time?