Want to end up with a good builder? These days, it seems we’re all turning to the experts to carry out essential, major building works. After all, you may find your amateur skills just won’t cut it and you’ll make costly, time-consuming mistakes if you attempt to do it yourself.
However, help is at hand as I know exactly what’s involved. In fact, I’m embarking on a renovation project on my family’s 4-bed Edwardian home. So, I’ve got together some expert tips to help you find a truly reliable, good builder in your area:
Family & friend recommendations:
If you can get a recommendation, you’re halfway there. This really is the best way in which to find a good builder. After all, there are a lot of costs involved, especially if you’re looking for a company who is able to undertake major works. So, do your research! Why not ask your friends, family and neighbours if they know a good builder? Then ask how long their job took to complete, how reliable the builders were, the costs involved plus the quality and finish of the workmanship.
It’s always good to search online to find good builders as you can see the sort of work they do. What’s more, you can also check they are a member of a trade body, such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
How we chose our builders:
We initially picked four local building firms to visit us and prepare quotes for a room re-design plus a kitchen extension. However, one of them then went bust! So, we gathered the remaining quotes and looked through each proposal with a fine-tooth comb. Want to know what were we looking for? Well, in a nutshell, competitive pricing and the quality of the materials they would be using. After all, you’ll need to stick to a budget. Also, quality is really is going to be key for a finish you’ll be proud of. So, we then visited a few sites to see examples of their building work firsthand. Now, this is a great way in which to really see how your own project could come together. In addition, we asked to look at a work in progress and a finished renovation. As a result, this is how we chose Woodbridge-based Chapel Properties.
Speak to previous customers:
You could always ask for previous work references and even speak to a few homeowners to find out how happy they are with their finished projects. Ask them whether the site manager makes regular visits, do the builders keep the site tidy and was the project on budget and did it finish on time. Other important points to consider include whether there were any extras or hidden costs, if the builders were polite and did they turn up on time. In fact, it’s these answers which will help you to feel more confident that you have chosen a good builder.
Look for local projects:
However reliable your builder sounds, make sure you choose a local firm. This way, it will be easier for you to see the projects they are currently working on and have recently finished. You should also see a number of their boards in the area, which can be a good sign that other homeowners are employing them locally. So, take a drive around your neighbourhood and you should see their marketing boards at the fronts of a number of houses. Take photos of the boards then look up their credentials online. If you’re feeling brave, you could even knock on the door of a house with a board outside and ask the owners what they think of their builders.
If you ask for quotes from more than one builder and find one is coming in particularly low, let the alarm bells ring! Although a high price doesn’t mean you’ll get a good builder, if you find two prices are similar, these are likely to be more accurate and realistic. A significantly lower price could mean that the firm is just trying to get the work. What could happen next doesn’t bear thinking about. In fact, you could find a builder, who will cut corners and introduce more charges as the work continues. So, make sure you agree costs and don’t forget to add VAT to the price you are given. Or you might find you are faced with a 20% hike on your initial bill once the work’s complete. Use a contract as this will detail the work you can expect at an agreed price.
So, while it’s fine to unblock a gutter or paint a wall, when it comes to a renovation project our advice is to make sure you find a good builder. This way, they will do the job properly if knocking down walls and building foundations are beyond your skillset. After all, you could end up damaging your property and invalidating your home insurance cover.