Questions to ask builder ( extension)(7 Posts)
Looking for a bit of advice as finding the whole project extension fairly daunting!
It took us almost a year to get planning permission and now we are hoping to start building in March- part double storey, part single storey with some internal alterations.
We've met 6 builders and had quotes from four ( two still not materialised despite 5-6 weeks since visit and several calls to chase..!).
There are two front runners who I liked and have given affordable quotes.
We have one of these coming this evening to meet my DH and ask questions. I've made a list, mostly going through spec in terms of type of Windows, flooring, inclusions, exclusions.. I would also like to ask ( somehow) about whether we could include penalties for going over schedule..
Is there anything else major I should be covering at this stage? P
I think thats tricky. I think they give you an estimated time of completion, rather than a definitive date. I doubt very much that a builder will say "it will be complete on 30th June" or whatever, and therefore you stand to cheese them off by saying you want to incorporate penalties if they go beyond a certain date. If you only have 2 viable options at the moment, I'd be wary of doing anything that might put you at the back of their queue. If they're good builders, they're not dependent on your work, they probably have a queue of other people waiting.
Works can be delayed by the weather, a hold up on supplies etc - if you're supplying anything directly, or you change your mind about something part way through the build (i.e. its potentially your fault that there has been a delay), how does that sit with penalties for going over a fixed date?
I'd also ask for details of previous customers and I'd go and see their work (one, maybe two completed builds). Other things - does the quote include VAT? Will they ensure you have a working kitchen / bathroom at all times (i.e. will they rearrange your kitchen / appliances as the work goes on?). If not, how long will you be without shower / toilet / cooker etc. Does it include skip hire? Will they arrange for the structural calculations / building drawings to be done or do you need to sort that out?
What questions are you expecting from them? Maybe how you will be paying them?
Who will be their primary customer i.e. Is it you, or will they always be waiting for the both of you to agree?
And maybe where can they park/go to the loo? My builder asked for our drive to be for his use (deliveries, equipment) and sited his portaloo there.
The family arranged to park elsewhere & walk.
I think the penalties you will have to prove the losses. Ours said 10weeks but they will definitely go over, but since we won't suffer any losses it's not possible to claim. Same as bank charges, they weren't allowed for the same reason, although they seem to have reintroduced them somehow.
If you are planning to rent it out or something, then you could charge them rent if they overrun, but you'll find if they're taking extra risk they'll just charge you extra to cover the risk. So you might not be any better off.
I think the main thing is use a decent contract, we used the riba contract, and make sure the builder knows to follow the drawing exactly. We have to agree any variations in writing to avoid being charged for extras when we thought something would be included.
And ask which rooms they'll need to take over, and security measures, and what facilities they'll need especially toilet.
At some point you'll be best to get a sketch of the scaffolding and an erection date, as ours was only supposed to go on our land but they went over both neighbours quite a bit. Fortunately the neighbours were OK about it, but no thanks to the surprise of 3 scaffolders looking straight in their bathroom!
Can't think of anything else off hand, maybe ask how they want paying and whether you can keep a retention on the final payment for 6 months or so.
I don't have a list of questions for the builder - but rather for their previous customers
- how close was the final bill to the initial quote and why was it different
- what was the attitude to unexpected issues on the scale of; nothing's a problem that can't be sorted and don't panic to teeth sucking and blaming others
- have they come back to complete any snagging
- would they use them again
did they like them so much that they miss them now they aren't there anymore
Thanks all for replies..
Re: penalties, point taken. I had no idea if this was an "ok" thing or not. It was a suggestion from a friend who had a major issue with builders and overrunning work.. The friends who recommended one builder in particular i had the job come in exactly on time.
We would be moving out for duration so some of those issues not relevant for us.
John - is a contract a standard thing? There was no mention of this, presumably you'd be looking at this at outset of works? Also you mention retention for 6 months- is this until completion of snagging?
Our contract was a standard one, just search for riba contracts. We did have to pay about 25 pounds for it, but it's like insurance really.
I'm sure the builder won't bother but our architect is very careful about these things!
The retention is in case some issue crops up later, eg floor sinks or some render falls off, so you can get them back to sfix it quickly.
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