If you are embarking on a major building project it can be very daunting – which builder should you employ, what are the various stages you need to go through?

Finding a reputable builder is obviously critical to the success of your project and the best way is often through personal recommendation from friends, family or colleagues. Another way to find a good builder is to contact your architect who may know a suitable builder for the job.

  • DO – use a reputable builder, preferably one who is a member of a recognised trade association, and check they are a member.
  • DO – get references from previous projects implemented by the builders and whether they have public liability and all risk insurance.
  • DO – make sure that all builders quote for the same work, to the same specifications and that all quotes include VAT (all builders undertaking extension work should be VAT registered).
  • DO – expect to have to wait for a good builder - six to nine months is not uncommon
  • DO – spend some time planning and designing your building project, in order to avoid making late changes to your design.
  • DO – have your designs properly drawn up by a qualified building professional, and ensure that your plans are sent to Building Consultancy well before building work begins, so that they can check and approve the plans well before work starts.
  • DO – get the full name, address and telephone number of your builder. Be suspicious of any builder who will not hand out or does not have any business paperwork, who only has a mobile telephone number and will only deal in cash.
  • DO – consider practical things such as the positioning of new items such as gas points, radiators, electrical sockets and switches.
  • DO – empty garages, or any rooms affected by the project, of your possessions before major work is undertaken in them. Remove plants and shrubs from beds where necessary if you want to retain and protect them. Think about maintaining access.
  • DO – make allowances for inclement weather.
  • DON'T – immediately accept the cheapest quotation take time to compare them.
  • DON'T – pay a deposit, very few builders should need money before work starts.
  • DON'T – be afraid to ask questions.
Questions to ask before you accept
  • Will you stick to your written quote?
  • Do you stay on-site until the job is complete?
  • Is the site cleaned up at the end of every day?
  • What consideration do you give to our neighbours?
  • Are you members of the Federation of Master Builders?
  • Do you have full liability insurance?
  • How many years have you been established?
  • Can you provide customer testimonials?
  • Are there any hidden costs?
  • Are your workers employees or just sub-contractors?
  • Do you have job references available for inspection?