What to consider when choosing a contractor

Home Extension Construction
Home & Maker Thu Oct 22 2020 11:40:05 GMT+0100 (British Summer Time)

Choosing the right contractor is vital to your home build project’s success, so research and comparison is a wise plan when it comes to making your final choice.

Home build projects tend to be significant monetary investments, and designing your dream home also demands time and dedication to ensure the end result is what you had in mind. While everyone has heard stories of imcompetent builders who disappear after a few days, never to return, or run up costs three times higher than the original quote, there are lots of different steps you can take to avoid this.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) is the largest construction industry trade association in the UK, representing thousands of small and medium sized construction businesses and builders. The NFB frequently warns consumers to be wary of bogus builders, and for peace of mind and security, we always recommend checking the names and firms you research against databases like NFB’s Find A Builder, as this only engages with contractors who have been strictly vetted and have undergone a range of reference checks.

To help you find a contractor who can complete the job reliably and at a reasonable construction cost, our team of experts have put together their top tips and ideas to bear in mind.

While you are looking:

  • As mentioned above, make sure to choose someone who is recommended. Plus, it’s always worth getting references if you can and getting an idea of past projects they have completed.
  • While you're looking at their portfolio of work, check to see if their work is specialised. Can they tailor their skills to your building plans?
  • Don’t worry about asking lots of questions about their experience or suggestions on your project - it’s the best way to make sure that both of you are on the right page.
  • As with any investment, it’s a good idea to have a look around at different contractors in your area, and we always recommend requesting a written quote so you can easily compare costs and services. It’s this comparison which will help you judge the fairness of these different estimates too, and help you decide where you're getting the most for your money. 

Before you decide:

  • If you're comparing different companies, make sure that you know exactly who will be undertaking the works within each firm. Will it be them or will the work be subcontracted out to someone else? This is helpful to know for points of contact, responsibility on site and who to go to with urgent queries.
  • On the topic of double checking, it’s also important to be informed about guarantees. If you're planning a larger-scale home transformation, enquire as to whether the company will offer a guarantee and be aware if it is a new build you will definitely need to secure a guarantee. 
  • In terms of budget, we’d also suggest putting some money aside for potential unforeseen extras that may crop up mid-build. 

Before you start:

  • It’s important to have a detailed contract and schedule of work in place before work starts. Don’t forget to make sure that it is signed! 
  • Ensure that the proper permits are being acquired - skip permits for example, are essential if your property is in an urban area.
  • Keeping up good communication with your contractor is vital, especially if you are not living on site. Errors or misunderstandings can be difficult to undo, so each side should make effort to keep the other in the loop. This will also help to ensure everyone is up to date and the project is on track. Whatever crops up - it’s good to talk!
  • Verify your insurance coverage. Make sure to check for what you are covered. Is it just the existing build or, what is being constructed? Asking before you start will make sure you’ve got the correct cover for your project.
  • We’d recommend never paying more than 25%- 30% of the total cost before the job starts. A deposit is a reasonable requirement, but needs to be set at a sensible level. 

When on site:

  • Home renovation projects can take time, so for this time to be as seamless as possible, it’s important to be clear about your house rules. What hours will the builders be working? Can they use your bathroom? Plus, don’t forget to consider health & safety.
  • As in the previous section, don’t make the final payment until the job is 100%  complete. You want to make sure that you are satisfied with the level of finish before you finalise your agreement. 

Leave yourself plenty of time for this process, to make sure that your contractor is a good fit for you and your project. To make sure that work goes smoothly when you're ready to start on the build of your project, you’ll definitely want to be sure that you have a set of architects drawings and approved plans to work from.

With bespoke calculators for a wide range of different projects, our instant quote tool not only breaks down architect fees, but also gives an estimate of your construction cost, to both help you budget beforehand, and give you an estimate to work from when it comes to choosing your contractor. 

Try our cost calculators for free here, or book in for a complimentary consultation call for expert advice and guidance from our architects and designers, tailored to your project. 

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