We talk with the National Federation of Builders on choosing the right builder for your particular project and needs. They set some realistic expectations and offer their tips on how to successfully maintain the builder-client relationship.
What tips can you give to finding the right builder?
Choosing the right builder can seem daunting; start your search by getting a recommendation or references from family or friends. You can also search online through trade federations, as they are very reliable. Obtain quotes from builders and get full details of what is covered and what is not covered. Put details of the job down in writing—the more thorough, the better. Your contract should outline what work is to be done, including start/completion dates, security, safety, the cost of the work and materials, payment plans, catering and lavatory arrangements, hours of work, cleaning up and the disposal of waste materials.
What are the qualifications I should look for when hiring a builder for a project?
Ask the builder if they are a member of any relevant trade associations (e.g. National Federation of Builders), you can even call the federation’s central office to obtain written confirmation of their membership. One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the right builder is to confirm they are insured—this is important as it protects them against property damage and personal and public liability to protect you in the event of accident or injury.
When does a builder usually get paid and how can I tell I am paying the right amount for the project?
Don’t pay upfront before the job starts. Agree a fixed cost or daily rate of pay, and the number of days the job is likely to take. Make sure you're clear on how many hours work your builder will do a day for the price quoted. Deposits are usually only payable where specialist building materials are needed or if the project will take a long time to complete. If you do need to pay a deposit, find out about using a deposit guarantee scheme, which can protect your money if things go wrong.
I am a builder, what advice can you give to help me get started with my business?
Don’t go it alone! The National Federation of Builders offers reduced subscription rates for start up businesses and can provide an array of advice and guidance to help get you off to a good start. As well as providing advice on a range of topics such as employment, legal and health and safety, they can put you in touch with other builders in your area for guidance and networking opportunities. Access to finance and initial startup costs associated with a construction company can vary based on where you operate and what services you provide. Try to keep in mind that you will need funds to lease or buy vehicles, equipment, and tools. Additionally, you will have to pay bills, advertise and pay salaries. If you don’t have savings or access to a traditional bank loan, it would prove beneficial for you to apply for financial help. Protect yourself, your business and your clients by ensuring you have the right licenses and permits, business insurance and surety bonds. Familiarise yourself with construction industry regulations and occupational health and safety plans, as it is essential for builders to work in a safe place which is free from hazards. The construction industry is heavily regulated so these steps are very important.
I’d like to expand my skillset as a builder, what resources can I use?
Technology is rapidly evolving in the construction industry. You can now design a home on mobile and tablet devices. Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology allows you to manage information in a team environment and enable everyone to understand a building through the use of a 3D digital model. The digital model holds all the Information needed to design, construct and maintain that building. These new resources require workers to adapt to new ways of working. Most trade federations offer training advice and offer courses directly or by referral. From a client’s perspective, it is a good idea to enquire about the resources that will be used during the project, whilst choosing the right builder.
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What are the steps I need to take before I get any building work done in my home?
You may have to get more than one kind of permission or approval before you go ahead with work on your home. Always check if you need building regulations approval for small improvements, e.g. replacing windows or doors. If you’re building something new or making a major change in your home for example, an extension, you may need to get planning permission. You don’t have to apply for building regulations approval yourself if you hire a builder who is registered with a ‘competent person scheme’. These are schemes that are approved by the government; builders registered to these schemes will organise building permissions for you—another reason why choosing the right builder is vital.
Once I find my builder, what tips can you give for working with them to ensure that the project runs smoothly?
There is plenty you can do to ensure that each stage of your project gets completed with minimal fuss and stress. When choosing the right builder for you, consider if they are easy to communicate with—good communication is your most effective tool. Ensure that you are clear and straightforward when you are discussing anything with your builder. In order to keep on track with the building project, set reasonable expectations and check in frequently with your builder to touch base on how things are going.
The National Federation of Builders is the construction industry’s longest established trade association. For more information on the services provided by the NFB, please visit their website: builders.org.uk
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