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Choosing A Builder

Deciding on a builder to carry out the work for your new home can be very stressful. Here are a few tips to help you.

  • Listen to recommendations, follow up recommendations from your friends, family and other self-builders.
  • If a builder you are looking at has a Trade Association logo, remember that not all trade associations carry out regular inspections or work undertaken by their members. If you are choosing a builder on the strength of the logo, make sure it is a reputable trade association. A directory of credible trade associations is available from the Citizen Advice Bureau.
  • Follow up references. Once you have contacted a builder, ask for the names and addresses of three recent customers in your area. Arrange to visit them to inspect the quality of the workmanship, ask about what the builder is like to work with.
  • Shop around, give detailed plans and specifications to several builders. A good builder will provide you with a written and comprehensive estimate, explaining the work that needs to be done and why. how much it will cost and the time it will take to complete.
  • Employ a builder who offers an insurance-backed guarantee. You will still need to take out your own structural warranty, however, it makes sense to work with a builder who has its own warranty. The insurance offered to members of the Federation of Master Builders, covers the self-builder against non-completion of work and business failure.
  • Get a full written contract drawn up, for both you and the builder to sign. This should confirm the precise arrangements for the work to be done, including the agreed price, method of payment, start and completion dates, insurance and guarantees and how to resolve disputes should they arise. If you do not wish to draw up this contract your self, the Joints Contracts Tribunal has produced its own, which is published by the Construction Industry Publications A good builder will be happy to sign a written agreement.
  • Avoid builders who demand cash, or full/considerable payment up front. Milestone payments, where you pay by results are the best. Details of payment (how much, and at what point). Should be detailed in your contract.
  • If extra work is needed at any point through the build, then make a not of the changes on the original specification and ask your builder for a further estimate. A good builder will be happy to do this.
  • A good builder will always follow health and safety guidelines whilst working on the site.

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