If you are looking to change or extend your current home with an extension, loft conversion, or refurbishment of some kind, it can be quite an overwhelming time. Its vitally important to get the right team of people working with you on every aspect of the project. One of the most common challenges for anyone is how to find a reliable builder?
Over the years we’ve really listened to our clients. Their wishes, their needs and their wants. We know what’s been asked of us to provide the best service to our clients and so here are some points to guide you through what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a builder.
How to find a reliable builder – Option one – Recommendations & Searches
Friends and Family – The first advice would be to ask friends or family for recommendations. Reliable and honest opinions are what you need. If they have had work done and are local to you, ask if you can look at the work (if you didn’t witness it happening in real time). Ask how the builder operated, how they were to deal with, and whether they feel the job was priced appropriately, amongst other aspects.
If you’re using an architect for your project, they will often have building companies which they work with regularly. And, other trades and building inspectors will often also provide you with recommendations. They may have worked with them or will know of them and their work.
Search online – reputable and trustworthy builders are likely to have social media sites or a website, where you can also see customer testimonials and before and after photographs. But there are also trade sites you could search specifically to find a reliable builder for your project. Always check out reviews online of any company you are considering.
How to find a reliable builder – Option two – Local Builders
Drive around your local area to see what building projects are on the go, and don’t be afraid to ask the homeowners for their feedback.
Finding a builder who works locally will help for several reasons. If they’re currently undertaking a project in your area, you have chance to see their work from the start to finish. There is nothing to stop you driving or walking by every now and then to watch the progress.
You can see how they work on site. Look for things such as whether they keep the site tidy, is there evidence of health and safety? If it’s a smaller project within a home can you tell if they are keeping disruption to a minimum, is the outside of the house and area around it being impacted?
A locally based builder will also know local suppliers, is likely to have an account with them and will be able to source materials more easily. As well as links with other local tradespeople if they need to bring in specialists outside their own team.
And of course coming from the local area there’s no excuses for a reliable builder being caught in the traffic or bad weather meaning they can’t get to you!
How to find a reliable builder – Pricing and Quotations
- Don’t just ask for one quote. In fact, we would recommend getting at least three quotes before choosing a builder.
- Be clear on what you are asking for and also don’t be afraid to give them your budget (a good builder will often advise you to have a contingency budget within the overall amount you want to spend for larger projects).
- Make sure you are asking for the same level of detail on the quote from each builder. Does it include removal of waste? Does it include labour, materials, and VAT? Who will be responsible for sourcing which items?
- Ask for all three quotes in writing so that you can easily compare, and be clear on whether it is a true quote or an estimate (remember, an estimate is just that, so could go up or down during the project if the builder has miscalculated in any way).
- Ask for confirmation of timescales – for starting and completion of the project.
- Are you expected to pay for any of the work in advance? We would not advise that you pay the full amount for any job up front just in case there are any issues or areas you are unhappy with. Many reputable builders ask for payment in installments as they complete key stages of the project.
- The cheapest quote isn’t always the best. You could end up paying twice if your builder has cut corners and the work needs to be corrected by an expert. ‘Rogue traders’ may simply try to undercut the rest, so remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
- Finally, make sure you have the relevant contact details and make it clear to the builder that you are seeking other quotations. Professional and reputable tradespeople will expect this, so do not be afraid to make it clear to them.
- Take up the offer of speaking to their past customers too. Yes, or course they will only give you the details of the happy ones, but it is definitely still worth speaking to them.
How to find a reliable builder – Questions to ask
How long have they been in business? It is always a good first indicator of a reliable builder if they have been around for several years.
Do they have any trade memberships? Unlike other trades, qualifications and certificates do not necessarily reflect the expertise or professionalism of a builder. But they are likely to be backed by a trade body or association, which will allow extra protection for you should you experience anything untoward.
Insurance – what level of insurance is in place and what does it cover? A reliable builder will always be happy to show you evidence of their insurance.
Ask if the work is guaranteed and what their process is for any disputes. Obviously, we hope this does not happen, but it is still worth checking before you sign any contracts.
Timescales – it’s important to have realistic expectations, so if it sounds as if the work will be rushed, this could be a warning sign. Make it clear you want to be kept updated, but not so much you will be constantly on their case! Also, check how many sites the builder has running at once – it may sound impressive if they have a number, but it could also lead to delays – perhaps ask if you could speak to the people they are currently working for.
Payment terms – check when payments are due, ensure you will be provided with receipts for materials as well as other costs within the final invoice. Most tradespeople will keep you updated with costs vs budget throughout the project, so again check that your builder will do this. Transparency in communication is key when choosing a builder.
So, you’ve gone through the plans, you’ve agreed the quote and terms, and you have signed your contract – yes, we would recommend signing a formal document to make sure you all agree the project terms, responsibilities and sign off process once it is completed.
Now you’re ready to go ahead with the work itself and enjoy the results.
Why RJL Builders is a reliable builder you can trust
As a family run business, we pride ourselves in over 24 years’ experience from father to sons. We specialise in all areas of building services, and treat each project as though it were our own home.
We find that communication is one of the most important things within any of our projects.
Taking time to understand what you want and need, and making sure you know what to expect from us, will keep us all happy and the job running to plan!
From a budget planning perspective, we guarantee that all work will come in at the price agreed from the start of our partnership, and we are so confident in delivering nothing but the best, and meeting your expectations, that we offer a full 12-month Guarantee on all work completed.
And finally, all of our work conforms to local council standards of safety and workmanship.
So if you are interested in a free consultation and quote for your home renovation, extension, conversion or new kitchen or bathroom, please feel free to get in touch today to see why RJL Builders really is a reliable builder you can trust.
We hope that you have found this blog on how to find a reliable builder an interesting read and useful.