There are trade directories on and offline, as well as the local papers and of course, good old yellow pages. A majority of the most reputable and an in-demand local builders will have a waiting list. If any builder can begin right away that must be questioned!
1 – Check the Builders Associations
As they say, the best things come to those who wait! Without doubt, it’s usually best to be patient and get a reliable builder with a proven track record. The Federation of Master Builders is a good place to check (fmb.org.uk). The Guild of Builders and Contractors, as well as National Federation of Builders, are also good official sources to find a reliable builder.
2 – Check Their References
Most builders have their own certain style. Looking at their work first hand gives you an excellent idea of how they do things. Do not be afraid to ask for references or to see completed work. Long standing builders with a good reputation should be able to provide these with ease. They will also be used to it so go ahead and ask!
3 – Experience & Qualifications
The experience and qualifications of a builder can vary quite substantially. They might well have been in the business many years with many satisfied customers to show you but did not study at university! Be very wary of a builder that will not (cannot?) show you previous work. Many of the best contractors are registered with the “competent person scheme” which means they are government approved. If you are going to need planning permission for the building work hiring from the list will save a lot of hassle. If you go for Joe Bloggs builder, you’ll need to submit your plans and pay a fee for them to come and inspect the work.
4 – Sub-contractors
Who do they use and why? If they are using sub-contractors, you need to know who, and you need to know exactly what they will be doing. If the work is not good or any problems arise from this who deals with it? What assurances do you have?
5 – Insurance
If the worst happens, are they insured? For example, what happens if the sub-contractor leaves halfway through? Or the unthinkable happens and a wall comes tumbling down. Weather damage (a storm hits!). What happens if they damage another area of your home while working? There are many things that can (and do) go wrong. Make sure they have adequate insurance.
6 – It’s All in The Details
Always ask for a detailed quote and make a point of asking how long this price is valid for. For larger jobs it is vital to draw up a contract with everything they need to do stated on it. It is also usual to carry out larger works in stages. These should also be agreed beforehand and what payments will be made at each stage. Keep back the final payment until the work has been officially inspected and any snagging jobs completed.