Advice on suitable builders

We are often asked by the public to recommend a builder. The Building Control Team is unable to do this as we are required to be completely impartial in our dealings with any builder or client.

We are aware of the difficulties involved in finding a good builder, and we have provided some tips and links to websites to help you avoid the 'Cowboy Builder'.

Tips for choosing a builder

  1. You may want to start with a referral from family or friends who have had recent building work done. However follow the steps below, even for a referral.
  2. Choose an established builder and ask to talk to previous clients - find out if they were happy with the work, whether it was started and completed on time and if the final bill was in line with the estimate. A builder with a reputation to preserve is more likely to be around if you have problems later.
  3. Never choose a builder on the basis of a low estimate alone. Good builders who refuse to cut corners will seldom be able to compete on price with those that do.
  4. Avoid builders who offer VAT free deals in return for cash payments. A builder who will fiddle the taxman will probably not think twice about fiddling you as well!
  5. Be clear from the outset exactly what you want the builder to do and then stick to it - changing your mind too often will probably prove expensive.
  6. Try to agree a simple contract with your builder - the vast majority of smaller work is carried out without the benefit of any written contract at all. Try to get as much as possible in writing, for example:
  7. Exactly what is included in the estimate (or preferably quotation)?
  8. When will work start and how long will it take?
  9. What payments will the builder expect from you before the works are finished?
  10. On what basis you will want to agree any increase in cost (before the money is spent)?
  11. What arrangements will the builder make for your safety and convenience as works proceed?
  12. Is the builder properly insured? Ask to see the builders' public liability insurance certificate. Remember that the building work may affect your home and contents insurance so get in touch with your insurer for more information.

More information on tips for choosing a builder can be found on the National Federation of Builders website.

When the works are completed to the satisfaction of your Building Control Officer you will be sent a 'Completion Certificate.' We recommend that you do not make the final payment to your builder until you have the certificate, but try to agree this with your builder at the outset (see tip 6 above).

Updated: 21 March 2014