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Questions to ask builders when they quote?

11 replies

susie100 · 26/02/2010 08:19

Hello - we are about to start majaor structural work in our house - knocking though walls, replacing kitchens and bathrooms. I am dreading it to be honest but it has to be done.

We are getting 3 building firms to quote and I wanted some advice from wise mumsnetters!

Questions to ask so far

Are you insured (and evidence of policy)

I am going to check to see there are no small claims against them.

Will ask to see similar work and talk to the owners directly, pref in person.

What other things should we get in order before we proceed with any firm?

Should we have a firm contract in place with exactly the work we want done etc? I am very nervous about the project going overbudget although I imagine some extras are inevitable.

Any advice from someone with experience of builders or indeed any builders out there?

OP posts:
brimfull · 26/02/2010 08:32

We had a major extension done 4 yrs ago.

We had a full set of detailed plans of what wrok we wanted for the builders to quote on.

As long as they have it set out exactly what ou want done a schedule of works can come after you have selected a builder.

I would be asking about time span, if they have other jobs on at the same time?

What time they start and finish?

When they need payment (ties in with the schedule).

As you are having a variety of stuff done you need to know if they are secondong the plumbing etc to someone and who that person is?

I am sure someone else will be more helpful.
We had fab builders and I chose them becasuse they were so polite, took their shoes off everytime they came in (even thought we dont) and very good looing .

nappyzonecantrunfortoffee · 26/02/2010 08:34

I woudl get your architect to write up a spec detailing exactly whats to be done and the finishing of the job to exact points like what needs re plastering and what doesnt and then get them all to quote to the same spec so further down the line they dont try and wangle odd bits of extra cash out of you as beleive me it all adds up.

messymissy · 26/02/2010 08:42

ask for a detailed job by job/ step by step breakdown of the price - if its a big job you may want to think about employing a project manager / quantity surveyor

get them to schedule the work in detail

how many people will be working on the project each day

who will be supervising the workmen daily

when will materials be delivered / where will they be stored

step payments - usally pay labour costs in arrears - ie once each phase of the work is done, and the materials usually on delivery.

length of working day, start and finish times

what will they do with rubbish - how often will they clear it - will skips be included in price?

They will need to leave power and water off at some point, will they re instate it at the end of each day if you planning of staying in the property while the work is being done.

references - can you see a job they have done in the area? Can you speak to the householder?

what will they do to protect other areas of the house - eg cover carpets, dust curtains across door ways etc

Usually a quote is prepared with a 10% contingency but if you are specifing materials before hand and in time for them to have delivered to work on according to their schedule that will help reduce additional costs.

susie100 · 26/02/2010 08:58

Thank you this really is great!

OP posts:
susie100 · 26/02/2010 09:00

Sorry another question - ggirl did you have plans done by an architect or a strutural enginner beforehand?
The companies we are talking to seem to have their own architects, engineers etc and so all quote the drawings as part of the process?

OP posts:
susie100 · 26/02/2010 09:01

ggirl you are not in SW London by any chance are you? I like the idea of good looking and polite builders!

OP posts:
brimfull · 26/02/2010 16:59

Sorry I am near bournemouth

We had drawings done by an architect beforehand , seperate to the builders as they needed to be passed for planning permission.

heidehilde · 26/02/2010 17:45

Thanks! That's really helpful!

taffetacat · 26/02/2010 17:52

Recommendations are always good. As are local firms with a longstanding good reputation.

A friend of mine put me onto her builder, who recommended an architect he worked closely with, who then designed and project managed for us and we got 5 quotes, including the initial builders recommended. In the end, we went with the village builders ( not the initial guy ) as they have an amazing reputation but normally are expensive and very busy ( 9 month wait ). As it was height of credit crunch, we got a good price which they stuck to and they started within 2 weeks of instruction.

If its a big job, I would recommend using your architect as project manager if you think well of him/her. We are fairly savvy, but could not have done without him. He was worth every penny - even DH says this and he is notoriously tight.

Finally, the builder we chose was awful at breakdowns of costings, detailed invoices etc. This may put some off, but working with the architect, he helped them detail the costs a bit more which set our minds at rest a few times during the process. Just because a firm is a bit crap at detail in costings, doesn't mean its going to be a bad job/go over budget.

jeanjeannie · 26/02/2010 18:38

Messymissy's list is fab! It's got some great - often overlooked questions on there!

My DP is a builder and these are some of the things clients ask - and that he asks from them!

Ensure that you (or your DH) are there when the building inspector visits take place. That way if anything isn't OK then you're privvy to the information ist hand. So, ensure they let you know when the visits are scheduled for.

If you want to hire your own electrician/plumber etc then make sure you get the schedules in place with the builder and ensure that you've not got gaps of weeks on end while they all wait for each other (drives DP mad!) Also - if your builder is getting in the electrician make sure they are Part P registered. Try not to pay them yourself - if he hires - HE pays! Otherwise you really need a seperate contract with them. Paying sub-contractors yourself becomes a nightmare, especially if you're not pleased with the work.

Make sure they've got trade accounts. It says a lot about a builder's credit rating. They used to virtually give Trade accounts away but not anymore - they're like gold-dust and it'll really give you confidence.

Always go and see some work yourself - please! We always arrange for prospective clients to get up close and touch the work!

If your architect can see the project through then that always helps. Oh and you need to give the builder good plans - and I don't mean an architects drawings! We've got drawings here that look fab but are actually impossible to build! So get some good working drawings.


benedictlefevre · 03/04/2014 00:09

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