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Finding the right builder for your project

Builders – Finding the right builder for your project

Finding the right builder or contractor for your home extension or new build can be a timely one, but a most worthwhile and essential exercise.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any guarantees when it comes to builders — but there are ways to give yourself the best chance of ending up with the kind of builder that’s right for your project.

No matter the size of the project – whether you’re taking on a kitchen extension, large extension/refurbishment and remodelling scheme, or building a new home – you will be investing a lot of money into it, and will therefore want to place these funds in hands you can trust.

There are a whole host of good builders out there, here’s a quick guide to finding the right builder for you…..

How do you go about finding the right builder?

Finding the right builder for your project is key, a good project is often due to two key factors. One, having the right detailed information in the first place, and two, having the right builder on board.

Architects and designers – The first place to look for a reputable builder is by asking your trusted designer. Architects and designers should be able to recommend builders and contractors that they have worked with over a period of time and that they have a-along standing working relationship with.
Friends and family recommendations – Ask friends and family members who have had similar types of work carried, out if they would recommend the builder/contractor that they used, there’s no better recommendation than from a happy customer.

Local builders – Focus on local builders, are there similar works being carried out to properties within and around the area that you live in? if so, go and speak with the builders, speak with the clients themselves, ask about workmanship, is the project on time and on budget, not all jobs run to budget for various reasons, if it’s over budget, ask why. Remember don’t be afraid to ask, normally you will find that people are happy to offer advice and show you around their property, after all, they should be proud of their new extension.

Look online – If you’ve found a few builders, take a look at their web site to ty and find out a bit more about them. See what areas they cover, what type of work they do, have a look at their client testimonials. Whilst websites are a formality these days, we would suggest that small to medium size contractors/builders main focus is actually on producing the goods on site, therefore don’t be surprised if their web site’s not upto date and in some cases not as polished as their work!
Talk to previous customers – This is a great way of finding out not just about the quality of work they carry out but also other things which are important:

  • Do the builders turn up on time?
  • If your living in the property do the builders clean up before they leave for the day and keep the site tidy?
  • Are the builders polite?
  • Do you have regular meetings with the site manager/boss/owner?
  • What are their labourer’s and trades like?
  • Was the project delivered on budget and on time?
  • Were there any extras or hidden costs?

Always ask your preferred builder/contractor for a list of previous customers; they should be happy to provide details if they’re confident they’ve completed an effective job. When doing this, it’s important to have dates of their past jobs and when these were completed, it’s easy for builders to cherry pick two or three good clients over the past 4 or 5 years, this can be false, ideally you need their past 3 or 4 clients in date order to give a true representation of their work. This will give you an ideal opportunity to really find out what they’re like and see examples of their work first-hand.

In essence, you need to have trust in the builder/contractor and full belief in his workmanship. Whilst budget is always important in any type of works being carried out, whether it’s a small kitchen extension or full blown new build, the belief that your job will be competed accurately and to the highest standards is the most important factor.

Be wary of low prices!!

Cost and maintaining your budget are extremely important, we understand this. A high tender price is not necessarily a sign of good quality. However, at the opposite end of the scale, it is important to resist the obvious temptations of a low price. If one builder/contractor comes back with a quote for your work which is significantly lower than the other tender prices, you need to be suspicious.

It could be that all other quotes are disproportionately high and the lower builder/contractor is simply good value, however, more likely the very low builder/contractor is putting in a speculative bid to try and get the work — and aims to make more profit on the project by, for instance, cutting corners or introducing a range of extra charges as work progresses.

This can lead to disputes further down the line — when it is much more difficult to do anything about it. Either that or, as they begin to find the work hopelessly unprofitable and end up making a loss on it, they simply pack up and walk off to more lucrative pastures. This reinforces the emphasis on tendering to between 3 and 5 different builders/contractors, if 4 of the 5 tender returns are of similar price and the exception is the one builder at a far cheaper price, then this speaks for itself. It’s far better to know the actual and accurate costs of the project from day one, so you can plan and budget accordingly instead of being misled initially and having to find additional funds midway through your project.

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