Dynamic Quality Assured.
A concise checklist, mostly applicable to minor works (when employing general / jobbing builders etc.)
NB. Small works includes the majority of extensions and refurbishments.
Do not be alarmed, help is at hand.
1• First of all gather a list of builders, (ask your architect for further advice).
2 • Always ask for a quote and not an estimate wherever possible, as a quote should note variables if any, at this time.
3 • Gather at least three written quotes. This will also give better perspective. Some general builders may not even turn up, or send out a quote, despite turning up. Furthermore you are inviting a stranger into your home, and you need to feel comfortable that you have good communication with your builder.
4 • Discuss the quotes in detail with you architect.
5 • Do not dispense any large sums of money to a builder, instead stage payments. If in doubt we recommend seeking advice from your architect.
6 • To avoid disaster you should arrange for your architect to oversee, at least, key elements / phases of the construction.
7 • Make sure your intended builder is insured by viewing his original "Certificate of insurance" (paramount), and check dates.
8 • Never give large sums of money to a foreign (eg. Polish) builder. Be very wary of non UK citizens, and take commonsense precautions.
9 • In general use common sense and never get talked into making any instant decisions always take time out with your builder.
10 • Read our "How It Works" page, sections 1-7.
11 • Seek advice on appropriate written contracts, that define just what the builder will be responsible for, and staged payments.
12 • Standard contracts for builders or contract managers, can be downloaded from various sources online, or we can advise or prepare said documents as necessary.
13 • Agree all changes in writing / e-mail, ASAP. and e-mail a cc. to any / all relevant key people concerned. Agree at the outset that any chargeable changes will have to be confirmed as above, that is the builder first emailing confirmation to you (paramount).
14 • Never give monies to a builder, ahead of total value of works and materials delivered, however a modest advance at the start is normal for minor works such as extensions etc. AGREE ALL FINANCES AT THE OUTSET with your builder (paramount).
Although you will not realise it many small building businesses may be robbing Peter to pay Paul on a daily basis, and juggling works. Once monies are handed over you have lost control of that money.
15 • If in doubt we can once instructed advise on precautions and systems, for managing all builders / contractors.
16 • You may even wish to consider building insurance, for extra peace of mind.
17 • Ask for references, and or to see prior work carried out + any portfolio. A good professional builder will have no problem with this, at all.
18 • Do not let your builder start before;
a. The agreed start date(unless it is beneficial to YOU).
b. "Full Plans Approval" with Building Control (it's a bad idea to just commence on a building notice, many cans of worm may open here!).
c. Final finances are agreed, there may be cost implications due b. (above).
d. Final Contract/s are signed.
For key points, read the bold text only.
It is noteworthy that, often by standard trading terms, materials delivered to site by builders merchants, remain the merchants' property until paid in full. Meaning that if your builder develops financial problems, and therefore arrears with a merchant, even deliveries are not safe.
If self project managing you may therefore wish to open your own account with say Jewson (arrange deliveries strictly to your address only) and let your builder use that account for your project alone. You will get monthly statements, and you can set a monthly limit.
This is one of a number of options that may be employed in reconciliation with errant builders.
It does happen, and you never know when and where it may strike, as builders commonly do not admit when they are in trouble, and can commence minor works knowing they are in difficulties which can and does sadly, occasionally go wrong.
This is another reason for not paying monies too readily ahead of total value, and getting this agreed.
If a builder does not use e-mail, and or has no land line number, and does not conform to 7 & 14 above, we simply would not recommend employing them, at all.
Keep in mind if you have taken the wrong path, please learn from it and don't continue upon the same cource. Stop the rot before it's too late. Seek advice and act upon it!
We hope this has been useful.
We have no wish to be negative, and would like to point out that most projects work out well.
Some helpful links:-
• Yell.com builder advice
• The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) www.fmb.org.uk Includes some free contracts.