Find a Builder
Once you’ve decided on your preferred method of construction, you'll need to research local contractors (you want to avoid travel time if possible), pick someone based in the same town or village if possible, local builders rely on work from local people, therefore they will want to preserve their reputation by doing a good job.
It's a good idea to speak to Building Control if you don’t know any good local builders. They’re not likely to actually recommend anyone, for obvious reasons, but they might give you a steer as to which contractors you should potentially be talking to.
Speak to the local Merchants, the same will apply, if they give a name or two to contact, whilst it’s no guarantee, at least you’ll know the builder pays his bills on time, no reputable Merchant would pass on a name of a company with money troubles.
Don’t pay deposits in advance of the building work starting unless it’s for something with a long lead time and is bespoke to your house… for example a timber frame, or perhaps windows. Most reputable contractors will have accounts with merchants, plant hire companies, hauliers and concrete suppliers, so there should be no need to pay the builder for things that he can put on account.
Project Manager Robin Batchelder explains "Your contractor will have wages to pay, but say your groundworks take 4 – 6 weeks and there are three men on site, he’s not going to be paying them in advance, so why should you? At the very most, offer to cover their wages weekly in arrears, that said I would worry if my builder was that hard up he couldn’t pay his men."
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the UK's largest trade association in the construction industry. Their strict membership criteria and dispute resolution service ensures you have confidence when dealing with their members. All of their members have to meet their strict membership criteria as well as passing their vetting process.
Using the Find a Builder Service, you can search for builders, plumbers, electricians - pretty much any of the trades you'll require for your project, by entering your postcode.
Customer recommendation is one of the best tools when it comes to finding a reputable builder. There are a number of sites now that operate on the basis of reviews and rating the work of builders based on their quality of work, reliability and value for money. Rated People is one such site as is Which? Trusted Traders, and Trustatrader and Checkatrade.
- Ask around, there's really nothing better than a recommendation from a happy client that has recently had some work completed
- Ask for references - be sure to speak to and visit the people providing the references
- Agree clear payment terms in writing with your builder
- Avoid paying upfront or 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.
- Check their insurance