Choosing a builder

Tips on finding a builder

Look for a builder who will work with the building control surveyor, handle your building control applications and make sure all the necessary paperwork is in place.

Make sure these services are included in the estimates you agree. Further consumer advice on how to choose a reliable trader and your right to cancel is also available in these pages.

Before work starts

  • Don't forget to contact our Planning and Building Control departments as necessary
  • If you have adjoining or shared walls, give your neighbours a Party Wall Notice
  • If your home is listed or you live in a conservation area, check if there are any restrictions on what changes you can make.

What to look out for

  • Ask builders about their other customers - good professionals will be happy to give these references
  • Find out if they are members of any trade organisation and check their membership with that organisation. Start by using the find a builder service on the Federation of Master Builders website
  • Make sure you have a proper contact not just a mobile phone number
  • Get several written quotes - be cautious of low quotes or builders who can start immediately or work on a cash basis
  • Check who is expected to carry out the legal requirements - you or your builder?
  • Draw up a written contract with an agreed timetable that both parties are happy will work. You can use the Federation of Master Builders' free contract
  • Get insurance!

Budgeting, quotes and specifications

  • Make a detailed list of everything you would like to have included. This will help when you ask for quotations
  • Compare quotes item by item and not just by the cost of the job
  • Check that VAT is included in the final cost
  • Set aside some money for unexpected problems
  • If you are thinking about taking out a loan or using another form of credit to pay for the work, consider the full cost of the credit including the interest
  • If you take out a loan or another form of credit to pay for the work, check the requirements of the agreement
  • A cooling-off period may apply if you take out credit. This is a set period of time from when the credit agreement was agreed, during which you have the right to cancel
  • Include costs for labour and parts in your budget
  • When purchasing items, shop around and check online
  • Agree who will buy items and be responsible for making sure they arrive on time.

Work with your builder

To get the results you want, good communication with your builder is vital. Explain your ideas and meet regularly to discuss how the work is progressing.

If you are unhappy with the work talk to the main person, not just a team member or subcontractor. Remember most things will probably be able to be amended more easily before they are finished.