• JBCarpentryPlusLTD

Trouble Choosing A Builder? Hire The Best Builders Every Time!

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Hiring a building contractor

Hiring a building contractor can be a scary and confusing process! There are hundreds of horror stories, from complete ‘bodge’ jobs to people being scammed completely and losing thousands of pounds! The building industry does not have a respectable name for itself, and rightfully so in many cases. However, good builders do exist - those who take pride in their work and bend over backwards for their clients. But the question everybody has when hiring a contractor to carry our repairs or renovations in their home is, how do I find the right one for the job? To some, this may feel like an impossible task. It may even completely deter them from having their dream kitchen or bathroom fitted, or that extension they have always wanted. We all know building work is not cheap, so how do I find a contractor who will do the job correctly, the first time, with an honest price, and even a guarantee? Someone who will listen to your dreams and desires and then do as you’ve asked…

Nowadays every building company has a sales pitch that sounds great; “our building company can solve all of your problems!” or “satisfaction guaranteed!”. But we’ve heard it all before! We could jump on board with the rest and throw our own pitch in, but that’s not what we are trying to achieve here. Our goal is to give you free, expert advice to make hiring contractors safer for you, allowing complete peace of mind from start to finish whilst promoting ALL the honest and reliable contractors. There are a lot of great companies out there, including our own, which is why we have created this completely free guide for anyone looking to hire a building contractor. This guide is intended to give you all the information you need to carry out your project in the safest way possible. By applying the knowledge you gain from this guide, you should be able to choose the best contractor for the job every time, no matter where you live or how much you know about construction!

1. Plan your project carefully, include every detail!

This can be difficult for someone with no construction knowledge, but it is a vital part of the process. You should try to plan your project as accurately as possible and pay particular attention to detail. Do you want a particular material? Do you need to stick to a certain time frame? Will you be living in the property as the work takes place? All of this information will give your builder the best understanding of the job at hand. It will get you a more accurate quote and ensure that the job is done exactly how you want it!

It is always vital that your plan your project thoroughly to avoid any disagreements throughout the process. Always ensure all work discussed is included in a written quote so that both parties understand entirely what is expected of them.

2. Get more than one quote!

This part is essential, no matter how much Jane from next door idolises the guy who fitted her kitchen. No matter how many times your dad says to use his buddy from school, ALWAYS get more than one quote! 3-5 quotes are a good start. This will allow you to speak to each company representative individually, to get an idea of what each company has to offer, how long the job will take, and how much it will cost. Some company’s prices will be vastly different to others, some large companies will charge enormous profits, and some smaller sole traders can do the work significantly cheaper as they have no VAT to pay. However, never let the cost be the ultimate deciding factor. The cheapest builder is rarely the best and may be cutting corners where the more expensive guys are not!

Speaking to each builder separately should give you a good idea about who to choose, after all meeting someone personally gives you the opportunity to see just how much they care about their work, and allows you to ask questions to help guide your decision. Always meet each contractor in person, at the location where the work is to be done – a quote over the phone or away from the site is never going to be accurate!

3. Check that your contractors have the relevant qualifications!

This should speak for itself, however far too many people completely overlook checking a builder’s qualifications! Would you hire a mechanic who had never worked on a car before? Would you hire a babysitter without checking their background? I think I know your answers. So why do people hire builders without checking their credentials? Beats me…

Imagine hiring somebody to build your extension who has never even learned the basics in construction? Or a plumber to fit your boiler without checking that he is ‘gas safe’ qualified? Not only will that invalidate your home insurance if something does go wrong, but imagine the consequences of a gas leak? Or worse, an entire extension collapsing... I rest my case.

4. Check that the builders have liability insurance in place!

Again, liability insurance is often overlooked. If a builder has no liability insurance in place and something goes wrong, this could end up being your burden to bear. If they can’t afford, or refuse to cover the costs of the repairs, you could end up forking out thousands of pounds to lawyers. What if the company can't afford to put things right and declares bankruptcy? Well, that’s an even bigger problem. Imagine the costs of putting things right yourself! These things are easily avoided from the very beginning of any project, any decent contractor will have insurance in place to ensure that accidents of any kind can be rectified. ALWAYS CHECK FOR LIABILITY INSURANCE!

5. Avoid the con men! Always get references!

Always get references for the contractor you choose! References will tell you a lot about the workmanship of the company in question. Some people may even be happy to meet you so you can check out the work they have had done in person. It is possible for fraudsters to fake references, so always check properly, and always get more than one!

Looking around your local area for similar building operations is another way to get good references. Just take a walk or a drive around your neighbourhood and pay particular attention all the buildings which are currently under construction – speak to the owners, and the builders. Talking to builders without them knowing that you want any work done can give you a good idea of what they are like towards people who are not paying them. If a builder seems unhappy to talk to you or answer a few questions when you're not offering a potential job to them – perhaps steering clear is your best bet!

6. Communication!

Communication is essential to maintain all relationships. Without communication, all things fall apart. Probably best to avoid that being the case where your house is concerned though, right?

Always communicate your feelings and desires to your builder from the beginning and throughout the process. The more information you can give at the start, the more accurately the builder can quote you. Always discuss the length of time each job will take and ensure that you are both on the same page about what you expect and when you expect it completed.

If at any point during the build process you are unhappy with anything at all, always bring this up at the earliest convenience. If a mistake has been made, and you do not mention this, it may be a much bigger problem to fix at the end of the job. Any respectable builder will keep each customers interest's a top priority - they should want to build the dream home that you are looking for and nothing less! Building companies thrive on recommendations and reviews, so if they are not looking out for your each and every desire, they are not the company to choose!

7. Paperwork!

This just might be the most important part of the process! Paperwork is essential to ensure that both parties agree on the work to be completed, the costs and the time scales. By the time you have accepted a quote and arranged a date for the project to commence, you should already have several important documents at hand:

· A full and detailed quote that accounts for all expenses.

· A contract of agreement – this should explain in detail all work to be carried out, and the start and completion dates for each stage.

· Names, contact numbers and addresses of companies/contractors involved.

These should be written or printed documents and should be checked strenuously. You may only receive a single document, but always check that this includes all of the above information. Make sure everything is exactly how it should be, and that there are no hidden or missing costs! Once everything is agreed, make sure these documents are signed by both parties and that each party has a copy to avoid any disagreements once the project commences. Never sign any documents before being completely satisfied with their contents. A document like this will be legally binding, therefore it will protect you and the contractor should any disagreements arise.

8. Never pay upfront!

A building company should never ask for payment for works upfront, but it is not uncommon for large construction projects to be completed (and paid for) in stages. Wherever this is the case you must be certain that you are happy with the job, or each stage, before you make any payments! If something is not how you agreed or expected, discuss this with the contractor as soon as possible, refer to written agreements if necessary and allow the contractor to put things right before payments are made! However, if a company has carried out the work originally agreed to, and you have no paperwork or evidence to prove that something is not as it should be, then you will be expected to pay – regardless of disagreements, and the contractor would usually win if it were to go to court. Once payment has been made, you have accepted the work that has been carried out efficiently and therefore any disagreements that follow will be exceedingly difficult to resolve.

Some companies may ask you for a deposit – this will often be to secure your booking once an agreement is in place. Again, this is not an uncommon practice for busy companies. It will ensure that both parties stick to the agreements made. If dates or details are changed by customers or contractors once a project is agreed upon, this will cause all sorts of problems for the people involved. It is good practice to get some sort of evidence of this deposit being paid – signed by you and the contractor to avoid any disagreements about it later. Any deposit paid should be deducted from the final payment at the end of the job.

Never hire a contractor who expects any other payment for work or materials upfront! All reputable building companies will have credit agreements in place with material suppliers and will be able to source materials without paying for them upfront. Therefore, this is a cost you should never pay until the end of each stage, or upon completion of the project.

Thank you for reading our guide to hiring a contractor!

This guide is for educational purposes only, to expand upon the knowledge of property owners who are looking for contractors. We aim to relieve the stress involved in this process and bring you all the best building expertise available. We do not take any responsibility for the outcome of any work completed by any building contractors after reading or using the information within this guide – unless it's the work of JB Carpentry Plus LTD of course!

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