That is a pretty good start point. I would ask them to break down the quote into key milestones of the project e.g. foundations, walls, floor, roof, electrics, plumbing etc. and to break each of these down into labour and materials. That way you can analyse the different quotes you get and see any major differences which will help when negotiating. Also this will really help you work out a fair payment schedule, that is commensurate with the work that has been done. I would normally pay no more than 10% up front and then pay an amount every couple of weeks according to the work that had been done. This will keep them keen! You should also ask for a copy of their insurance certificate. Also just be very clear about what fixtures and fittings they are to include in their quote. When you come to negotiating and drawing up the contract it is worth putting in a financial penalty if they are late finishing the job.
DP is a builder - this is what he expects to be asked:
* full itemised quote / contigency etc * Time plan of work * Schedule of payments. Do this with an agreed amount up front. Not fair to say no more than 10% because that really depends on the cost of your materials. With only 30days on trade accounts you could be asking a very good builder to be paying an exraordinary amount of money upfront for you! *time the payments alongside stages of completion. Only pay if you are happy. *ask about any strucural engineering work - can he work to plans? *Go see and ring up people he's worked for. * Ask at what stages the building inspector needs to see things...and BE there!! * See insurance certificates *ensure any electricians/plumbers etc also have correct stuff such as Corgi and Part P certificates *Ask if he does more than one job at once. Really cheap quotes usually mean there's more than one job on the go! *guarentees - including that on materials such as specialst glass.
I'm apprehensive about penalties for finishing late. Many, many jobs come with hidden problems and that can't be forseen by the builder and it's not fair to punish for that.
Interesting on TV last night - 3 builders talking about quotes. Their advice : Get 3 and if the cheapest is way cheaper then be wary. Usually it's just to get the foot in the door and then the entire time is spent bumping up the cost!