Working in partnership

Choosing a builder

 

Image of plan and hard hat

Here are some tips to help you when you get in touch with a builder.

 

Decide what it is you want done


Draw up a list of the things you want done and keep a copy for future reference. The more detail you can give the builders the easier it will be for him or her to price the job and tell you how long it will take.

Make sure it's legal


Before work begins you should check whether you need to get planning permission or approval under the Building Regulations Act. You can ask the builder or you can read more about planning applications and building regulations on this website. If you are in any doubt you can contact us.

Getting the job done


Ask two or three builders to visit your property. Describe what you want done and ask their advice. Explain any restrictions you want to place on the work, for example, starting and finishing times, access, etc., or if you intend to carry out some of the work yourself.

Ask questions of the builder:


Finally reassure yourself by checking out the builder's work, references and other aspects, like work habits, with previous clients.

Trustmark

If you don't feel happy asking these sorts of questions then you could consider looking for the TrustMark logo. TrustMark is a new scheme supported by the Government, consumer groups and the building industry to help you find reputable firms to do repair, maintenance and improvement work in your home or garden.
If a firm displays the TrustMark logo you know that a trade association or other certification organisation that has been approved has checked the firm and found that it meets certain standards the Government has set. To find out more please visit www.trustmark.org.uk

You may also find useful advice by contacting Consumer Direct, the Government's phone and online consumer advice service. They can provide clear, practical advice about your rights, choosing a tradesperson, and what to do if things go wrong. Consumer Direct can't recommend individual firms, but they will give you contact details for approved scheme operators who have suitable TrustMark-registered tradespeople who can carry out the work you are doing.

You can call them on 08454 040506 or visit their website at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk

Ask the builder to provide a written quotation which details the work to be undertaken and the cost. A good builder will advise you when you are wasting your money, for example, by carrying out a repair when replacement would give better value and vice versa.

Compare the prices. Make sure you have a quotation and not an estimate. A quotation is the price that will be charged provided you do not make extra requirements; an estimate is a guide to the cost and can change.

Consider using a contract. This is an agreement between you and the builder which defines how, when and at what cost the work will be done.
As a minimum write down and agree the following:

Once you have chosen the builder, agree a fixed start date and, if possible, a completion date. Make sure you have instructions in writing and keep a copy yourself. Any changes need to be in writing as well.

Do not pay for work before it starts. Agree to any changes to costs before the work is carried out. For small jobs the builder is usually paid at the end of the job. For larger projects, you may be expected to pay in stages. The amounts and times of these stages should be agreed before work starts.
Most work is usually carried out to everyone’s satisfaction. However, if a problem does arise, discuss it with the builder immediately. Do not wait until the job is completed. Keep a record of what was said and what was agreed including any extra costs.

Play fair with builders


Try to avoid changes to the job once the contract has been drawn up and the price agreed. If you have to make changes, agree them in writing with the builder. Ask the builder for a revised price and start and finish dates.
If you have agreed to make stage payments, pay promptly - provided you are happy that each stage has been completed properly.

When the job is done


Check that all the work detailed in your contract has been done and that you are happy with it. The builder should leave your home tidy. If there is a problem however, mention it straightaway to the builder and get it put right. Don't wait for the invoice to arrive before you say you are unhappy.
Pay within 14 days of the final invoice, unless the builder has agreed to a different period.

If you are not satisfied with a job once completed and the builder is unable or unwilling to rectify work, you can ask the Trading Standards Department for advice on what you can do.






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