Embarking on a new home build project or extension to your home? Congratulations! We know what an exciting time this can be and would hazard a guess that it’s been something you’ve been thinking about and planning for a while now. These things can take time to happen – between imaging how it could look to saving up, finding architects and getting planning permission, it has probably taken a few months, if not longer, to get to this point. Just the final build to go now and you’ll be sipping a cuppa in your new extension or waking up in your new loft in no time.
First, though, you want to be sure that you get the right builder to make your build project a resounding success. That’s easy if you keep these 8 things in mind about what makes a good builder when you are shortlisting contractors.
What makes a good builder?
The best place to start when looking for a builder is to ask for recommendations. This could be from friends, family, neighbours, co-workers, or your architectural designer. You want a shortlist of 3-4 contractors that you can then ask for a quote.
We have been helping people build and expand their homes for a while now and this is what we find makes a good builder:
They are experienced
Ask how long the company has been trading for and how many years’ relevant experience those working on your project have. For example, if you are having a two-storey extension built you don’t want a contractor who has only ever worked on loft conversions.
They are qualified and certified
If they are qualified, they will have no problem telling you about it and showing you their certificates. You also want a builder who is a member of a professional trade body, such as the National Federation of Builders or the Federation of Master Builders.
They are health and safety compliant
They must also demonstrate that they comply with all health and safety requirements on site at all times. Ask to see their health and safety policy and any specialist training that staff may need, such as working at height or in confined spaces.
They have references and client reviews
Those who are proud of their work are not afraid to shout about it. Ask to see references or reviews from previous clients and check that they are recent. Anything over two years old is too old. Too much could have changed in that time – such as staff turnover, lapses in quality may have crept in, and prices may have skyrocketed while delivery times and delays may have grown longer.
Ask to see examples of their work near you or to talk to some of their previous clients. Seeing their workmanship and chosen materials up close will tell you a lot about their expertise and the quality of the materials they work with. Drive or walk by, and if any of their clients are willing to talk about their experience, grab the opportunity with both hands! They will tell you if they are unhappy, elaborate on problems, or wax lyrical about how great they are.
When it comes to construction there will always be unforeseen problems or hurdles. The key, though, is how your chosen builder reacts to and deals with them. Having processes in place to overcome problems and keeping you informed at all times will go a long way towards making the process smoother for them and a lot less stressful for you.
They are organised
A building site may look messy to you, but to a builder there will be logic and organisation behind it. A good builder will know how to manage a job from start to finish in the most efficient and safe way. A good builder will ask questions about your project so they can make sure they are well prepared and that each step is done in the correct order.
This is also your chance to find out details about how they operate and what the work will include. For example, what are their working hours, how will they manage site waste, what measures do they take to ensure the site is secure at all times, what are their catering and lavatory systems?
They are transparent
A good contractor will be clear on what their scope of work, payment plans and terms are. They will also be transparent in the breakdown between material and labour costs. Ask whether they offer a guarantee on their work and/or on the materials used.
They are insured
Every contractor should carry professional liability and public indemnity insurance. Always ask to see their insurance certificates.
They are in charge
Often there will be a main contractor in charge of the work with subcontractors brought in for specialised areas of work such as electrics, plumbing, woodwork, window installations, etc. Be clear on who is in charge and what the relationship will be between the main contractor and those they bring in. Is that relationship a good one or has there been a high level of subcontractor turnover?
Need some help finding a good builder?
We have been helping people build the home the want for as long as we can remember. With 27 years’ experience in the construction industry, we know what makes a good builder and we make it our mission to ensure your project is as smooth as can be. For help finding the right builder and support throughout your project give us a call on 0208 306 5110 or email us at [email protected]. We can help you too!