Where do I find a good builder?
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We can provide help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, independent valuations, property surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, home buyers reports or any other property matters. As you can see from this article we use lots of sketches and photos in our reports as the feedback we have from our clients is that the sketches and photos help them understand the reports.
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Where do I get a good builder?
From time to time we all need some work carried out by a builder. Whilst we could probably have a go at it with our DIY skills we know that a builder should in theory be able to do it a lot better. However most people are quite apprehensive about employing a builder as they have heard all sorts of stories about the builders carrying out a cowboy job, or the costs going up or the builders almost starting to live in the house.
So how do you find a good builder?
Horses for courses and builders for a particular job.
The first thing to establish is what is the main part of the job that you wish to have carried out. If it is mainly carpentry or bricklaying then you need to look for a builder that has that as their original trade and they can show you examples of what work they have carried out. We suggest that you talk to a few builders, perhaps more depending upon the value of the work and how important it is to you.
List the top ten things most important to you and the builder
You need to explain to your builder the top ten things that are most important with the job. We would also suggest that you write it down, just as a brief list (known in the building trade as a specification) as to what are the most important things and what you want. For example if you say you want new doors do you want them to match the old ones or have you seen some nice ones in a DIY shop somewhere.
What the most important thing that you can do for a builder?
We would say that as well as providing lots of cups of tea and orange squash depending on the weather the next most important thing is to be fair with your payments. Ensure that you keep up to date with them. We feel the only way to do this is to agree on day one when you will pay them, i.e. will you pay them within a week of putting in an invoice, will you pay them at the end of the job having a 10% retention for any problems that occur or will you pay the full amount?
It should be remembered when dealing with builders that they will usually have an account that gives them a month's credit but they will generally have to pay their labour on a weekly basis.
Get a quote in writing
No matter how friendly the builder is you need to have something in writing just in case. You also need to understand what the builder is quoting on and what he is estimating on. An estimate we would define as something where a builder simply can't work out because:
1. He doesn't have the skill
2. He can't see or understand what you want or need
3. He needs to open up the structure before he can advise you
If its number 3 that he needs to open up the structure before he can advise you then we would always recommend opening up the structure yourself or getting someone else in to do it, so that the builder has as few questions and queries on the job as possible before he starts.
Get three quotes
You need to get three quotes with all builders quoting on the same thing. What we normally find is that clients are unfair to the first builder as they may point out some issues and come to some solutions. These are then factored in for the second builder who then points out some more issues and these are then factored in for the third builder so it is often the third builder that is the only builder that is quoting for the correct work.
Fix a start and end date
Most important with a builder we feel is to fix a start and end date. If the start date moves then it is important to establish the number of weeks they will be at your property and if you do ask for any alterations and amendments you need to understand how much this will add to the cost of the job as well as the time.
Recommendations for a good builder
There is nothing as good as having a good builder recommended to you. Our concern is that often people recommending a good builder may have different priorities and standards to what you have. This will result in the builder not being able to meet the standards and expectations that you have so where the builder was good for the last person they won't be good for you.
Our hot tips would be:
1 Make sure the builder can carry out the work you want
2 That the builder has the key skills
3 If at all possible go and have a look at some of their other work
4 Don't be so desperate to grab the first builder that is available to carry out your work. It may be the reason they are available is because they are not very good
5 Trust your instincts
Websites that recommend good builders
We personally haven't had any experience with this but we think in principle it is an excellent idea. This probably needs developing and fine tuning and again there is nothing as good as your own due diligence to check out the builder. If you are part of an online community such as mums net or Facebook then you may wish to ask if others know about a builder you are using or could recommend a good builder but please see our comments with regards to understanding why someone thinks a builder is good. Time and time again we are involved with building disputes where the builder has carried out work for someone nearby or even for this particular person before but now they are in dispute and you really don't want to get into a dispute with your builder.
The common thing we come across is where a builder is part way through a job and he gives you an ultimatum that this work will cost more than he expected for whatever reason, that there is a problem or that he has to go to another job. This is known as builder's revenge. It often comes about when you are not getting on particularly well with your builder. Be aware of it. If you are given no choice but to have to get rid of your builder then it is very hard to find a builder to come onto a job as they are all suspicious that if one builder has gone then there must be a problem with the client as cowboy clients are as common as cowboy builders!
Builders working on day work rate
Day work rate is something we try and avoid in the surveying profession as often it is deemed to mean that the tradesman isn't on any incentives to finish quicker, work better etc. Wherever possible have a fixed price for work but equally ensure that the builder has put enough money in to do the work. There may be instances where you have to carry out work by day work. This is often the case on older properties. We prefer the system where you have already pre-tendered any anticipated work such as replastering. It may have been an unknown quantity as you are not sure how much plaster will come off. You could ask the builder to quote for 10 metres square, 25 metres square and 50 metres square and then you go to the appropriate rate that is nearest to what you have got.
If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.
If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com .
We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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