10 Questions you must ask your builder

General

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We understand how stressful and disruptive getting building work done to your home can be, so we wanted to ensure you get the best quality builder. Through years of experience working with builders we have compiled our top 10 questions to ask before hiring them.
1. Have you done a job like mine?

Always check that the builder has carried out similar work to what you want doing. You wouldn’t want to be the test client whilst they learn how to do it at your expense.

2. How long have you been in business?

Getting a builder who is established and has years of experience in the industry is definitely worthwhile. They can present records or paperwork that will state how long they have been running for.

3. Do you operate from a fixed address?

Immediate red flags if they don’t have a registered address. Individual tradesman can provide you with a home address, however a builder needs a premises to store equipment and supplies so an office address would be required.

4. Can you provide trade references?

Another way to identify the credibility of a builder is through references from a supplier. These help to indicate the financial stability and management of the builder.  Another good tip, is to check how long they have been with their bank for, as builders who switch banks frequently may indicate underlying issues/deception.

5. Could you give me the names of some people for whom you have done work so I can contact them?

It may sound stupid, but make sure you actually speak to the people behind the references to make sure they are legitimate. And politely ask if they would be willing to allow you to see the work that they had done. Also ask to see older work to check the durability of the builders work over time.

6. Are you registered for VAT?

It is good practice to look for a builder that is VAT registered. The VAT threshold for 2015/16 is currently £82,000 and someone with a turnover below that cannot be doing very much work. Also, if someone suggests you pay in cash to avoid VAT, beware!

7. Do you give a written estimate and quotation?

When estimates and quotations are given, do not simply accept a rough verbal answer. A quotation must be properly calculated and include all the aspects of the job that you are requiring. When you receive the completed quotation double check that it includes all the work to be done, date of completion, security and safety, catering and toilet arrangements, disposal of rubbish, water and power supplies, hours of working and so on.  Or alternatively ask for a written contract.

8. When can you start?

It is important to gauge with the builder how realistic your ideal start dates are. Pushing for a early start date may not be feasible. Note that on larger jobs, a project plan containing a timetable will allow you to keep track of timings.

9. How many jobs do you have on at the moment?

This is dependant on the size of the team required. A small team that are overwhelmed with lots of projects can result in infrequent and lower quality work. And using causal labourers could also be more detrimental than beneficial.

10. Do you offer a guarantee of your work?

It is a huge advantage if the builder does offer a guarantee, but this is only remains valid for long as they continue trading. However, you can purchase a 10-year warranty that covers building work, but this will be an additional cost. But at least you can rest assure that you will be protected.

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