Choosing the best builders for the job


Start your search for a good builder – Get a referral from family or friends who may have recently had some work done. Ask the builder how long they have traded and check too if they are VAT registered among other key points. When choosing a builder, a little research goes a long a way. Instead of asking friends and family, have a good look at the work they have done. Also, see what they have done also in the local area too.

Recommendation is the best way to find a reliable builder. Most small firms rely on their reputation and work hard to maintain it. Be aware that from time to time there can be fake reviews popping up online. So do all you can to be sure of what you are reading. Also, have a good look to see what firms in the local area seem to have the best reviews too. Look on websites like as well as via Google reviews to be sure of this.

In reality, your quest to find a builder isn’t going to be the easiest part of your build. In fact, with a trades shortage resulting in a 20-year-high in demand for building work, finding the right team to take on your build is trickier now than it has ever been. Yet, the importance of getting the right builder on board can’t be overlooked. Not only will it result in the best quality build. But having a good relationship with your builder will ensure you get exactly what you want. This is all while potentially saving you time and money along the way.

Look in the local area

Finding a builder locally can have huge benefits when it comes to your build. Time on site, their knowledge of local planning permission, builders’ merchants and other local trades are all invaluable nuggets of knowledge that you’ll welcome on site. There’s no harm in taking a walk around where you live. Have a little drive locally to spot any works going on in your area. It’ll give you an idea of the builders who are active close by. Plus if you see a builder’s board, it’s a sign that at the very least this is a builder proud of their job and looking for more You don’t necessarily have to like the style of work they are currently carrying out – after all, many people opt for ordinary extensions and new homes – but a builder can only produce what’s on the plans in front of them.

Talk with some of the builders previous clients

Once you’ve found a builder you like, don’t be afraid to ask them for a list of previous customers; they should be happy to provide details if they’re confident they’ve done a successful job. This will give you an ideal opportunity to really find out what they’re like and see examples of their work first-hand. Meeting previous customers is a great way of finding out not just about the quality of a builder’s work but also other things that are important.

Have a good look and see who there is online

A good place to starting looking online to find a builder is on sites like the Federation of Master Builders. They have a search tool where you can find specific trades in your area and look at their references. All FMB members are vetted and independently inspected, and are checked to ensure that they have the correct insurances in place. Advertisement Checkatrade and the Guild of Master Craftsmen are also good places to find a builder local to where you live. They offer stringent checks, which should give you more reassurance. If you’ve found a few contacts, take a look at their website. Do so to find out what work they cover. Do so also to see if you can look at examples of their previous work.

Take your time to read the quote you receive correctly and thoroughly

A high price is not necessarily a sign of quality in a building firm but, more than that, it is important to resist the obvious temptations of a low price. If one building contractor comes back to your tender documents with a quote for your work which is significantly lower than the other tender prices, you need to be suspicious. It may just be that the other builders’ quotes are excessively high and the one firm is simply good value.

But, more than likely the one firm is putting in a speculative bid to try and get the work – and aims to make more profit on the project by, for instance, cutting corners or introducing a range of extra charges as work progresses. This can lead to disputes further down the line – when it is much more difficult to do anything about it. Either that or, as they begin to find the work hopelessly unprofitable and end up making a loss on it, they simply pack up and walk off to more lucrative pastures.

The process of getting the quotes

You should contact at least three builders, whatever the size or nature of the job. It is unlikely that builders will give you an accurate estimate or quote for anything on the telephone. Organise site visits to your property. A good builder will be able to give you advice and explain your options. They should collect enough information to issue a quote. If you already have plans or drawings which were submitted for planning permission, supply copies to prospective builders to help them generate accurate quotes. Never agree to any work on the spot.

The aim of the visits should be to get three comparable quotes in writing. They should be key to meet the people who’ll be spending days, weeks or even months in your home. A good builder never pressures prospective customers into a sale. Make sure that quotes include the cost of all materials, scaffolding, waste disposal, ‘making good’ and so on. Alarm bells should sound if any building contractor offers cash or VAT-free deals.

Overall, what you need to account for

Recommendation is the best way to find a reliable builder. Most small firms rely on their reputation and work hard to maintain it. Be aware that a good builder is likely to be very busy and require a lot of notice. Be suspicious of a builder who can start tomorrow. Good builders that are high in demand will usually have a backlog of work. This is work that they have committed to. So although it can feel frustrating to wait, don’t be tempted to go for someone just because they are available. Having to wait for a builder to have a free spot is a positive sign. It is a sure sign that they have a consistent flow of work.

Another good way to find a builder is by approaching builders undertaking work in your area. If there is an advertising sign with a phone number or web address next to the building site, this is promising, because, at the very least, it means that the builder is communicative and open to new work. Even better, before you contact the builder direct, approach the current client in order to ask what they think of the work so far, you may even be able to look around the site to get a feel for the building work. This may seem invasive, but most individuals are more than happy to show off their home and the build. If they are happy with the builder will want to shout about it and if they have qualms, they will want you to know.


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