1 Ask friends & family
There is nothing better than getting a recommendation from a trusted member of the family or close friend. However make sure the work the builder is being recommended on is similar to the work you require them for.
If you are undertaking a larger project you may have already employed an Architect to do the designs. Ask them to advise on builders they have worked with before for similar projects.
2 See examples of their work
If you were to buy a car you would always do plenty of research and take it out for a test drive. Chances are you will be spending significantly more on the building works so you need to check what you will be getting from a builder.
The best way you can do this is by going to see other projects completed by them. This will give you an idea of the quality of their workmanship and give you a chance to discuss with their previous clients how they performed. This gives you an invaluable insight to how the builder works.
Remember, when your project is finished allow other potential clients of the builder to come visit you.
3 Tender Process
You should always get more than one builder to quote for the works. This is called going out to tender. Ensure you provide all the builders that are quoting with exactly the same information so you have directly comparable quotes.
Ask for a breakdown of the costs so you can see how much the key areas will cost, you can then look at where you may be able to amend the specification or scope of work to reduce costs if needed.
Dont always go for the cheapest price. Like with most things you normally get what you pay for! The cheaper price may mean they need to cut corners to get things done quicker and cheaper. They also may not have allowed for everything and try to increase the price at a later date.
4 Detailed information
When you are preparing the drawings and specification to go out to tender try to provide as much detailed information as possible. The more information you can provide the more accurate the builders quotes will be and there will be limited price variations during the construction due to previous unknowns. For example, the types of fittings and finishes can have a significant impact on the amount of hours labour to fit them and so increase costs.
5 Sign a contract
A contract benefits both the client and the builder. It refers to drawings and information for what is to be built, for how much and by when. This means everyone involved knows exactly what is expected.
If the builder tries to claim more money for "extras" you can refer to the contract drawings to clarify if it is an extra or not. It also means the client cannot try and sneak changes in that cost more!
6 Use specialists
A lot of builders are competent at more than one trade. However if you have a specialist task ensure you employ the right person for the job. If not you could end up with a substandard finish or worse something possibly unsafe and dangerous.
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