Finding the right builder can be a stressful business and as major building work is not something many of us do regularly, sorting out the good from the bad can feel like a minefield. ,
Ask your designer
Your designer will no doubt have worked on many projects similar to yours, alongside many contractors. This means they may be able to help you to find a suitable builder or at least to give you the nod if they approve of your choice. Some designers will also agree to take on the role of getting quotes and assessing bids from local builders.
Look at hoardings
Have a look around your area and see if you see the same builder’s hoardings at project sites. These boards are the most basic – and one of the most effective – forms of advertising and if lots of people are using a particular company, it’s a good sign. Don’t be put off by the style or type of project the company is engaged in – they can only do what the architect tells them!
Talk to building inspectors
Council building inspectors are ideally-placed to know who’s reliable and safe, as well as who isn’t. You can at the very least run a name or two past them to gauge the reaction. Inspectors will be interested in safe and trouble-free projects so they’ll only recommend a contractor they believe can deliver this.
Ask for recommendations
Ask your friends, neighbours and family for reliable builders. If someone you trust recommends a builder then you’ll feel much better about going ahead. If you pass a project every day and like the look of it, then don’t be afraid to call in and find out more about the contractor once the job is done. Very often, the client will be quite happy to give you their opinion, especially if they’re pleased with the work.
Look for the TrustMark
TrustMark is a government-backed trade approval body that comprises 30 schemes, including the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Roofing Contractors. Every company on the TrustMark database has its work and finances checked and the scheme also offers additional insurance and an easy complaints procedure.
Of course, being on the TrustMark database doesn’t guarantee a smooth, flawless job. Many of the checks are carried out by so-called approved scheme operators and sometimes these checks are out of date. Still, it’s a starting point on your search and can add weight to your choice.
Head to feedback websites
There are several websites that help homeowners to find a builder by checking out the feedback from previous customers. The better the feedback, the higher the builder’s profile in the local area. Again, it’s not perfect, but can help to point you in the right direction.
Ask other tradesmen
If you have a regular electrician or plumber, then ask them about builders they’ve worked with in the past and who they respect. Tradesmen have a real network and tend to prefer to work with reliable, reputable people, so go straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were.
Don’t opt for the lowest price
A very high price doesn’t indicate vastly superior work, but a very low price can indicate shoddy or rushed workmanship. Weed out any quotes that are much lower than the others. Either the company cuts corners or plans to build in extra charges as the work progresses, when it’s too late for you to dispute.
Have we missed any tips? Let us know in the comments below.