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If you need some minor building works, walls being knocked through or an extension, you'll need a reliable builder.
You’ll need a builder, or building firm, that is:
Before work can begin, you should check if any approvals are required, as it’s your responsibility to ensure any approvals have been applied for and accepted.
The two main types are:
Planning permission is the application of asking that a particular piece of work can be carried out on your house or property.
By contacting your local planning authority (LPA), you will be able to apply and keep track of any open applications. You can also get advice on what type of building works need approval.
Building Regulations Approval
Many projects require building regulations approval, including changing electrics near a bath or shower, replacing doors and windows, or replacing fuse boxes.
A simple way to avoid applying for this approval yourself is to use a builder or tradesman who is registered with the Competent Person Scheme. This allows your builder to self-certify their work, without the the need to apply separately for building regulations approval.
It’s worth getting a quote from at least three different builders before starting work. This way, you’ll have an acceptable sample size to compare prices.
Getting a quote from a builder
A good builder will want to meet in person to assess the building they’ll be working on. Arranging a meeting should be relatively quick and straightforward. They will probably take measurements and produce a visualisation, so you know what the project will look like in the end.
How to compare a quote from a builder
A builder’s quote should be detailed and include a split of labour and materials. The quote should also include everything from start to finish, including health and safety reports, specialist equipment needed for the job and VAT.
Pay attention to the payment schedules, deposits and when payment is required. Check the payment terms to make sure you won’t pay the full amount until you’re happy with the work carried out.
You may also need to pay for additional tradesmen to carry out any work like plastering, plumbing, joinery and electrics. Builders only offer construction, so make sure you’re all on the same page regarding who’ll be doing what.
Try to find your own plumbers, electricians and supporting tradespeople – this way you can get multiple quotes and perform thorough research before making a decision.
How to turn down a builder's quote
Nearly all builders will provide a no-obligation quote. When you decide who you want to complete the work, call them and tell them that you wish to proceed before following up in writing.
To turn down a builder, a simple email or call is a polite option. A builder will be used to this, so don’t worry about any awkwardness. Simply explain that you’ve decided to go with another quote and you will not need their services at this time. Thank them for their time and for providing a quote – you never know if you’ll want to use them in the future.
Pay on time
Make sure you pay according to the payment schedule you agreed on when signing the contract. Any delays could mean work will stop on your home as the builder will want to make sure they can afford the materials and subcontractors.
Have clear lines of communication
Using emails is the best way to make sure that there is a paper trail of when conversations happened and what was agreed.
Details can be misheard during phone conversations, or vital information missed. If you discuss changes or ideas, follow up with an email to confirm what has been discussed.
Budget for additional costs
Even the best-laid plans can go wrong. Budgeting for damaged tiles, an extra skip or other materials can help ease future headaches.
Don't change plans halfway through a project
Try not to change your mind midway through a project. If materials have been ordered, plans made and work begun, changing the plan can be stressful for all parties.
Talk through the contract so you both know where you stand
Discuss the contract before you sign. Decide who will arrange additional contractors, and how long everything will take.
Ask about anything you don’t quite understand and make sure everything is right for both of you. This contract is for everyone’s benefit, so make sure you are confident before you sign.