How to choose a builder

Thinking about renovating or an extension? Neil McAvoy​ from the Federation of Master Builders has this advice for choosing the right builders

Builders

Whether you’re planning to build your own home, add on an extension or convert a loft or garage, it is likely that some form of building work has crossed your mind at some point. Not only will it give you a nicer space to enjoy, renovating and updating your property can also add value to your home.

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It is therefore important that any work is undertaken by a reputable, trustworthy and, ideally, accredited building firm.

All too often we at the the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) have seen and been tasked with correcting previously ‘botched’ efforts to undertake home improvement works, whether this be the result of disreputable builders or well-intentioned DIYers.

With that in mind, if you are considering any substantial work on your home, we would heavily recommend that you do so by hiring a trusted and reputable tradesperson.

How to find a reputable builder

For your own peace of mind, we would always urge any consumer to ensure that they find a reputable builder to undertake any home improvement. Recommendations from family and friends remain are still one of the most reliable ways means to find a trustworthy tradesperson, but these are not always available. Even if you are able to get recommendations, you should still make sure to do your research and check out the company online.

Before committing to any work, secure at least three quotes from different companies. The FMB’s website hosts a useful Find a Builder tool that shows a range of professionally vetted and independently inspected companies in your local area so that consumers can build with confidence.

How long should I  have to wait for a builder?

While we understand it can be tempting to get started as soon as possible – especially if you have spent years dreaming about that upgrade to your home – it is sensible not to rush into any project by hiring the earliest available firm.

Combining the length of time needed for a good builder to become available with the time it takes to complete various home improvement projects, research by the FMB revealed that homeowners will have to wait an average total of:

  • Seven months for an extension
  • Six and a half months for a loft conversion
  • Five months to paint the entire interior of your home
  • Five months for a new bathroom
  • Five months for a new kitchen
  • Five months to convert part of a master bedroom into an en suite
  • Five months to convert a cupboard under the stairs into a downstairs toilet
  • Just under five months to remove an internal wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner.

The wait times are so long because experienced and professional building firms are booked up far in advance, but it is always worth waiting for these firms if you want a stress-free experience and a quality finish. Opting for the less-reputable builder who can start next week can lead to far longer delays when the work is not carried out to your expected standard.

When looking to appoint a builder, alarm bells should ring if they say they can start next week.

Do you need a contract with your builders?

Yes! Once you have decided on your builder, set up an agreed payment schedule and only pay the final amount when you are satisfied that all of the work has been completed to a good standard.

One of the most crucial things you need to do before you start is to have everything in writing with a contract. Get it written down and signed – costs, scope, responsibilities, timeframe – everything! If your plans change halfway through the project, make sure you sit down again with your builder and update the contract.

For more information on best practice when hiring a builder, visit the FMB’s How to Choose a Builder pages.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry, representing more than 7,000 firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized construction firms, the FMB is an independent, non-profit organisation, representing members’ interests at national and local levels.

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Get inspiration and advice on everything from total renovations to weekend home upgrades in our DIY section