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How to Choose a Builder

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Write down all of the works you want carrying out before you ask anyone in to quote.
Make sure you include jobs you want doing now and potential jobs you want doing in the future as this may affect the way the first jobs are carried out. For example, if you want a two storey extension but can only afford a one story now, foundations need to be laid to allow a two-storey extension in the future.
You may sell in the future, check the home improvements will add rather than detract from the value of your property.
  Are there any restrictions to works to your property, eg is it a leasehold, or a listed building.
  Find out what regulations the buildings work need to pass or if any planning permission is required or contact your local authority for their rules and regulations.
  Find three builders to secure quotes from. Make sure they are recommended by a company such as The Home Improvements Guarantee, Tradesmen Connect or Citizens Advice.
  If a builder claims to belong to an organisation or they employ a plumber or gas engineer, check their membership is up to date.
Ask for quotes to be broken down by labour, number of days work, materials and if any additional trades people will be used, for example an electrician.
Make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in each quote. For example some builders include the cost of getting building regulations sign off, some expect you to pay for this.
Be careful of offers to do the work for ‘cash’ with no VAT. If anything goes wrong and you don’t have receipts or guarantees for the work/payments you make, you won’t be able to make any claims.
Agree when and how you will pay for materials and the builder. You can agree ‘stage’ payments at the end of each week for example. The builder may require you to pay upfront for materials, but make sure you pay the merchant directly or only when the materials are on-site. Alternatively companies such as The Home Improvements Guarantee will manage and protect payments for you.
Ask to visit other properties the builder has worked on, especially similar jobs.
Ask what insurance the builder has so you can work out what additional insurance you need.
Make sure you sign a contract for the works. You can get one for free as part of The Home Improvements Guarantee service.
What guarantees will they give you for the work? Alert the contractor to issues they need to be aware of for example if any of your family are asthmatic or affected by dust required start and finish times.
If not offered through the service you use, to ensure an independent consultation via a building surveyor. Ask them to view your property before and after the works to make sure the builder has carried them out correctly and not caused further damage to your property.

 


All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of
Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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