How to Choose a Builder

5th August 2017

You’ve never had experience in the building trade and never developed a home. Even worse, you’ve watched too many programmes about cowboy builders or building disasters!  So where should you start when choosing a builder?

  • Check for recommendations?
  • Ask for quotes from smaller builders?
  • Ask for quotes from larger builders?
  • Organise 3 or 4 quotes?
  • Choose someone who you can communicate well with?
  • Check their financial standing?
  • Check to see if they have a membership of a trade organisation?
  • Ask for feedback from examples of their work?
  • Ask the builder to quote using drawing already approved by a building inspector?
  • Trust your instinct!?

The answer is ‘all of the above’. Finding the right builder is a bit of a gamble and to get the odds in your favour, you will need to have time and patience. 

 

Recommendations:   If you have a family member, friend or neighbour who has had an extension or developed their property, ask them if you can have a look and if they were happy with the builder. Did they think he was professional and reliable? Reached deadlines and kept to his original quote? Recommendation is probably the most trustworthy advice and the more recommendations, the better.

Smaller builder/larger builder: Ask for a quote from a bigger local builder, as well as the smaller builder. Whilst the larger builder might be more expensive, if you think they will do a good job, it’s worth asking for a quote.

Quotations: Don’t confuse yourself or waste everyone’s time by asking ten, twenty or however many builders to quote. It is far better to do your homework and settle for three or four quotes after selecting your choices.

Communication: Good clear communication is important. Does he understand your budget, needs and ideas? At least 90 per cent of things that can go wrong on a build can be due to misunderstanding or plain bad instructions.

Trade association membership: Does the builder belong to a trade association membership? We would suggest only using builders who belong to a trade association or professional body and contacting those organisations for verification before proceeding with any negotiations.

Feedback:   Ask a builder for examples of their work and previous clients feedback. This is particularly relevant if you are unable to find a builder through recommendation. Reputable and trustworthy builders will ask for customer feedback. Ask if he has examples of similar builds to your planned development.

Obtain quotes from approved drawings: Ok, we’re an architectural services practice, so of course we are going to recommend you use detailed plans for quotations! However, if you read any literature on building, the advice is use detailed plans from an experienced professional to ensure you are given more meaningful quotations and reduce the risk of misunderstandings.

Trust your instinct: Still can’t decide? Trust your instinct! You’re not deciding if he will make a good friend, but do you feel you can get on with him and trust him?

 

Other essentials to consider are:

Don’t go for the cheapest quote. If you have received four quotations and three are around £85,000.00, but one is considerably lower at £55,000.00, find out how this quotation was arrived at.

Do all the quotes include fixtures and fittings or just a nominal sum? If your build includes a new kitchen and/or bathroom(s) how much has the builder allowed for all the fixtures, fittings?

You must always ask for full contact details and check them. Be extremely wary if a builder doesn’t use or handout business paperwork, only has a mobile number or deals solely in cash.

Ask a builder to show you a copy of his builders’ public liability insurance certificate and check if the work is guaranteed and if insurance-backed should he go out of business.

If your project is large or complex, we recommend you consider using a written contract. If you think this applies to our project, ask potential builders if they would be prepared to use a contract.

Make sure all the quotations you request are based on the same specification and try for fixed quotes rather that a rough estimate, which would be subject to change. Should there be a need for changes or any additional work, insist on a revised quote.

We sincerely hope our suggestions have been helpful. Detailed Planning do have builders they would be happy to recommend should you wish to include them in your list of builder quotations.  

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jemsmith1
jemsmith1
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We have used Detailed Planning a couple of times now for planning issues related to our nursery business and they have... always been efficient and communicative and got the result we needed.read more
Francesca Malone
Francesca Malone
19:02 28 Oct 20
We have used Detailed Planning to help design and obtain planning for our single story extension converting our one... bedroom flat to a two bed. We have found them to be extremely helpful, communicating the process and how things work throughout. We were particularly happy with their ability to negotiate our extension depth with the planning office, resulting in 3.5 metres instead of the permitted 3m, which was crucial for our space to work. We look forward to working with them for the rest of the project.read more
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We used Detailed planning for a loft conversion and side extension. Very helpful guidance with respect to what would be... allowed by the Planning department. Very efficient service. Would highly recommendread more
Christian Constantinides
Christian Constantinides
19:07 10 Oct 20
I used Detailed Planning for a new build home in the London Borough of Enfield. They managed initial feasibility and... concept design, the planning application process, building regulation drawings and support throughout the build. All in all the entire service was fantastic and I would certainly use Detailed Planning for future projects.read more
Claire M
Claire M
12:52 15 Jun 20
I hired Detailed Planning for the design of my loft extension along with the corresponding planning permission... application. Absolutely brilliant service.They know exactly what they're doing. They were open to my design changes whilst keeping a sharp eye on local council requirements. I'm so pleased - planning permission was granted sooner than expected with no changes. Thanks so much!read more
Komal Lulle
Komal Lulle
08:35 28 May 20
Excellent team and superb service. They are best a there job and they provide guidance, support, work and plan... according to your requirement. And do not hesitate in making changes until you are satisfied. Truly recommend themread more
Emma cheevers
Emma cheevers
15:00 20 May 20
Paul and his team were absolutely excellent to work with. I couldn't recommend them more. So professional, quick and... always ready with advice. Really enjoyed the experienceread more
Mel D
Mel D
21:03 13 May 20
Paul & Emily are fantastic, they have done everything from start to finish for our planning permission and technical... drawings and the quality of their work is very high (I guess it is in the name - detailed!) They have been patient with all our design changes, provided lots of advice, walked us through the process of who to engage with, when etc. and were always responsive and helpful when we have questions both via email and phone. This is our first major project and we are doing a loft conversion and remodelling the entire house so to have this support has been invaluable and well worth the money. We actually found them on trust a trader and obtained a few other quotes, DP was the most reasonable price wise, had the right qualifications, good reviews and a big plus was their well evidenced portfolio of work & experience in the area. It was a no brainier and they really have delivered beyond our expectations, most things have also been done via emails and zoom calls so the flexibility was there which really worked for us, would recommend them to anyone!read more
Gopinath V
Gopinath V
16:14 24 Jan 20
Detailed Planning were recommended to me by a friend. Right from their initial visit and all the way through to the... finished plans, they were very good and we could not have asked for better service. Paul and Emily were always very good in their work they answered every query we had and solved every issue that we encountered during the planning They work extremely well with their recommended engineer, surveyor and building control company to deliver a very good package. Thank you Paul, Emily for your excellent work, We can't wait for our extension to be completed.read more
Ornela Haxhia
Ornela Haxhia
11:48 09 Jan 20
We found Paul and Emily very professional, insightful and helpful during the planning approval stages of a rear... extension to our property. They provided us with regular timely updates. We highly recommend. We have already passed on their details to friends who are looking to make changes to their property in the summar.read more
Nicky Freedman
Nicky Freedman
19:51 23 Dec 19
Nothing a problem for the team at Detailed Planning, helpful, always at the end of phone, attentive and reliable and a... fast efficient service. Would definitely recommend and use again.read more
Stephanie Coward
Stephanie Coward
11:09 18 Dec 19
The service provided by Detailed Planning was exceptional, with fast response times and excellent communication... throughout the project. We would definitely recommend Detailed Planning and look forward to working with Paul and the team again in the future.read more
Oliver Jenkinson
Oliver Jenkinson
19:30 21 Nov 19
Pro active and efficient and got the job done.
Vinay Rughani
Vinay Rughani
18:55 20 Jun 19
Detailed Planning were recommended to me by a friend. We found their prices very reasonable so instructed them to draw... up plans for our extension. Right from their initial visit and all the way through to the finished plans we could not have asked for better service. Paul and Emily were always very easy to get hold of, which I'm told is not the case for all architects. They answered every query we had and solved every issue that we encountered during the planning and party wall agreements with minimal fuss and in good time. They even sorted our build over agreement for our manhole to be moved. They work extremely well with their recommended engineer, surveyor and building control company to deliver a very good package. Thank you Paul, Emily and everyone at Detailed Planning. We can't wait for our extension to be completed.read more
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