How to find a builder seems to have become an increasingly difficult question to answer, not because there aren’t good builders out there (there are probably more than there have ever been!) but because we find it increasingly difficult to trust ourselves to find a builder with the right qualifications, experience and prices.
How to Find a Builder
There are so many stories about ‘rogue’ builders, ‘cowboy’ builders and people all too ready to rip us off that we lack the confidence to know when we see a good person to do our building work.
Thankfully, the rogues are few a far between and most builders are of sound reputation and well qualified. But to make sure you can be confident of finding the builder you need we have compiled a short list to help you in your search.
1. Try to get some ‘builder’ stories and referrals from your friends and people you know who have been happy with work a builder has done for them in the past. Contact your local council for any advice they have. They can’t recommend a builder for you, and certainly won’t find a builder for you but they will have some guidelines. If your building project you have in mind is fairly large then you might want to seek out the services of an architect. Not only will these help with your design they often work closely with builders and know what to look for.
2. Newspapers, directories, friends, relatives, neighbours, local authorities, and the internet are all great places to find a local builder.
3. You might want to think about getting a couple or three bids for every job. Compare the bids to make sure they offer the same scope of work, similar quality of materials, provide warranties, and can do the job in the same period of time.
4. Once you have managed to find a builder, don’t forget to ask if the builder has done any projects similar to yours. If so, do your best to check them out as that will give you a first-hand view of a comparable project. Call the home owners and ask how the work went and if they have any positive or negative comments about the builder.
5. Make sure you can get access to the builder’s licensing information. Talk to them about how long they’ve been in business and how large their staff is and what building jobs they have done that are similar to the one you want doing. You should also find out what you can about whether they have insurance and at what level.
6. Get any promises, guarantees and warranties in writing. The contract should be as detailed as possible on materials, brands, colours, time period and so on.
7. Ensure your contract details a payment schedule that you have both agreed on before the work starts. Agree penalties for any delays that might occur and have an agreement on how any cost overruns will be dealt with or managed.
8. If at any point during work you need to discuss a detail of the project with your builder get their reassurances that you can do this. The better the quality the relationship between you and the builder you find the more chance the job will be concluded satisfactorily.
9. Agree when you find a builder that you want that you don’t make the final payment to them on the project until it is completed to your satisfaction.