You wouldn’t believe it, but there are perfectly capable, extremely respectable builders all across the country merely awaiting the order to help you build your dream home. But how do you find one?
Get A Recommendation
Personal recommendation is probably about the best route because if you know someone who’s pleased with a job and they’ve referred a builder then that builder won’t want to let them down, just as they won’t want to let you down. If you don’t know anybody who’s had any building work done recently, check out some impartial websites for advice. People will only go out of their way to list their builder on a site like this if they were genuinely delighted with all aspects of the job. This includes the quality of the craftsmanship but also the ability to deliver on time and on budget. Either way, ensure they are fully qualified to carry out the work you need done and are members of the various accredited bodies.
Are They Any Good?
There are many warning signs to look out for. One is the builder saying he can do the job starting tomorrow. Another is when a contractor comes in with an incredibly low price for your main contract, only to turn around later on and start putting in extras for things that you thought were included. It’s absolutely imperative that you go and see projects that builder has actually made – this way you meet clients who have worked with them. Visit those buildings not when they’re brand new and shiny but go to buildings that are maybe three or four years old and to find out whether they’ve worn and weathered well.
Get A Contract
Equally important is having a contract with your builder. Make sure it is clear what their (and your) legal obligations are. Things to include in your contract are timescale for the build, budget for the project and how much the builder gets paid. You can even buy a generic building contract and fill in the blanks. Even better, visit the Federation of Master Builders to download a free contract. It can also be useful to include a contingency clause of 10-15% in case anything goes horribly wrong, but the best way to prevent this is to be in constant dialogue with the project manager and their team throughout the duration of the build.
Are You Insured?
It’s really easy for projects to go wrong. Construction is a horrible world, and it involves bits of baked earth and mud and lots of rain and and grumpy subcontractors. So it’s all about how you mitigate that. Your builder ought to have indemnity insurance, of course, and liability insurance. It’s imperative that your project is insured. If for some reason it all goes wrong. Look fully into insurance – a good builder won’t be offended by you asking.
Getting The Job Done
Putting a clause in the contract which says if they deliver on time and on budget there’ll be a bonus can make all the difference. Penalty clauses don’t work quite so well – builders, as human beings, don’t respond to threats very well! It’s far better to offer a reward for timely completion than a penalty for late completion.
For more on DIY and self build projects, go to Channel 4 / 4Homes.
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