Homeowners and landlords looking to find a quality builder to carry out improvement works to their property can follow these top tips for choosing a trusted professional from the experts at Taggart Homes. Whether you are planning an extension, looking to create an open-plan layout, or are simply seeking repair and maintenance work, finding a reliable professional can feel like a daunting task if you are unfamiliar with the process and work involved.
With the country subject to lockdown restrictions over the past few months, which has seen many of us adjust to spending more time staying in and working from home, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of homeowners wishing to renovate and improve their properties.
As a roadmap out of lockdown is now underway, it’s the ideal time to plan your next home improvement project to make the most of what is expected to be a more positive year for many following the difficult circumstances of last year.
Here is the list of top tips for finding a trusted builder:
Establish the type of builder or company you require
Depending on the type of work you require at your property, it may be necessary to recruit a specialist company to complete the job. If the work is more general, then a builder who has experience in all basic aspects of home improvement works – from renovating kitchens, to fitting wooden flooring, will possess the skills needed to finish the job to a high standard.
Once you have decided upon the type of builder you require, do your own research online to find local professionals in your area. Many online directory websites will allow you to do this easily, where builders can advertise and showcase their work, experience and services. Make sure you contact other clients of your chosen builder to ensure that your builder has decent reputation and is easy to communicate with.
Be specific about what you require
One of the most important parts of planning your home improvement project is deciding early on exactly what it is you require and if necessary, take advice from a reputable architect on your requirements. If the chosen builder is reputable and knowledgeable then they may be able to advise you depending on the job and if you require planning or building control approvals before starting, be specific about what you expect your builder to do and not do – for example, would you like them to source the building materials and products needed, or are you willing to find those yourself? Would you like them to dispose of the waste produced on a job, or to save costs will you do that yourself?
Answering questions like these will help you to specify exactly what you are looking for in terms of works, so a builder can provide you with a quote based on your requirements and expectations.
Put your job out to tender
Once you are clear about the type of work you would like, you can advertise your job on various websites, where trade professionals can get in touch with you if they are able and willing to carry out the job. In any instance, make sure that you obtain independent references on your builder and if necessary, go and ask the referee.
Don’t hesitate to shop around either – finding three or four quotes from different specialists will give you an idea about the cost of a project, how much you can expect to pay and the level of workmanship you can expect. Each quote should specify exactly what work it includes, so you can compare what you are getting for your money and make the best decision.
The cheapest job can sometimes end up expensive, especially if the requirement is not well documented beforehand or if the builder uses inadequate material or labour – only employ a builder who puts their work, their customer and credibility first.
Credentials and experience
After shopping around for quotes and determining exactly what work needs doing, you should have one or two builders for consideration. The next step is do some research into each builder to look at their credentials – how much experience do they have? What types of projects have they completed in the past? Do they have any references you can look to? And is there a portfolio of work that you can view?
Choosing a builder who has a wide range of experience and many years in the industry is reassuring, as you can be confident that they have the skills, organisation and knowledge needed for most jobs. You may need to wait and plan well ahead before getting the right builder as good builders are always busy.
Check they’re insured
Remember to ask the builder if they are insured. They should have public liability and personal insurance to protect themselves, their customers and the public if a property is damaged during work, or if an accident or injury occurs.
They ideally should have product insurance in the event of any of the building products failing, this has happened previously. They should also be registered with the NHBC as this is a further layer of protection for the customer in the event of a problem within 10 years of the project being completed.
Agree costs and work involved upfront
To ensure your home improvement project goes smoothly, and you receive the desired outcome you were hoping for, it is important to agree on the cost of the work upfront, as well as how long it is expected to take, and what type of work is involved from start to finish. A verbal or written contract can be put in place to specify exactly what is required and expected, so you know the work will be carried out exactly to plan.
The customer should employ a quantity surveyor to quantify the work and give the customer an idea of the cost before going out to tender, the QS should then certify the work before payments are made to the builder.
Unless you are planning a large home improvement project, then don’t agree to pay a cash deposit or for the work in full upfront. This is not usually the norm, and unless the work is expected to take several weeks or months, or is highly-specialised, then a builder should not ask you to pay for their services before they have completed the job.