How can you 'check out' a builder?...(9 Posts)
....Like everyone and the property mags always tell you to? How and where exactly can you 'go' to check they're bona-fide, licensed, insured etc?
The 'ask around' thing isn't really an option. This is a new-ish estate and so people aren't really doing extensive building works AND it's a bit specialist what we need, a loft-conversion!
hmm. I suppose you could ask to see their documents. If I had a big job to do and I couldn't check them out by any other means I might be inclined to hire them for a small job first and then judge them on how they handled that one.
The builder who did our loft conversion introduced us to a satisfied client himself, and the said satisfied client kindly let us look at the conversion that was done for him.
We have also had people who have seen workmen's vans outside our house, knock on the door and ask if we recommended them.
I don't builders need a licence to trade, which is part of the reason there are so many cowboy builders around! We asked our builder for a number of references and took them up over the phone. We also asked to see a current project and a recently completed one and went to look round and checked that site looked tidy and well-managed etc. The one that was recently completed we were able to visually confirm that building work had recently taken place and that the owners were satisfied, which they were. We also asked for his indemnity insurance certificate and then contacted the insurance company to get them to confirm that their insurance cover was in place and how much it was for etc.
Ask your local trading standards people. Hampshire TC have a website with reputable tradesmen on it.
So far I've not had problems with any I've used, they all seem to be a bit more efficient and professional than a lot of them.
IIRC the Hampshire one is called 'Buy with confidence'. Hopefully it's nationwide.
A builder is only as good as his last job.
As well as checking consumer websites and the local aauthority, taking up references, insurance cover, viewing recent work etc. for a substantial project like a loft conversion there are several steps you can take to protect yourself by taking some precautions as regards the actual project.
Make sure you have the work fully designed including a detailed specification which covers not only what work you require but also how it is to be done. Use an Architect experienced in this type of work.
The contractor should price the specification and not just offer a quotation.
Use a recognised frm of contract such as: Homeowner Contract
Use your Architect to "administer" the contract, inspect progress and monitor quality of work. Naturally you will pay for this but for peace of mind it is worth it.
We asked a potential builder for references, and he gave us the names of three couples who had recently had the same work done (new kitchen and / or extension). Then we went round to visit all three of them, saw his work and talked to all three previous clients about whether he was reliable, whether the costs ended up as what he'd quoted etc etc. They were all happy with his work, so we went with him (also got two other quotes from other builders, but this one seemed the best and so invested the time in taking up the references).
I think next time I might also ring up the building regulations people at the local Council and ask if they've heard of him - our building regs guy knew him as he's based locally and therefore the building regs person sees his work from time to time. They are very unlikely to be able to recommend a builder as such, but they might be able to confirm to you (or otherwise!) that he's not a cowboy at least!
Do some research yourself about what the job will entail. Ask him about the different building regs involved. Ask him about the different trades and whether he is sub-contracting or using his own team for all trades. He should be happy answering any questions you have with a 'let me show you' attitude.
Not strictly building but my DH is an electrician and always does 'walk throughs' with clients discussing jobs in huge detail. His quotes are always very detailed and clear (I type them up so should know!).
Be very wary of builders who are at all vague. Any quote should be very clear about who is providing what and what exactly is included.
Ask about planning permission requirements. Again, be very suspicious of vagueness. Friends of mine are now in a huge and expensive mess because their builder flouted planning rules.
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