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  • Richard Domenech

How To Choose a Builder or Contractor for Your building project? 10 top tips from Architect.

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Are you considering doing building work on your home? If so, whether you're planning a loft conversion or a home extension, finding the right builder in London is essential. This will help ensure that you can bring your vision to life while enjoying the highest quality of building work possible.

Constructing an extension or loft conversion can be a complex process. Professional architects and builders are required to ensure that your property meets all building regulations. If you're wondering how to find the right partner for your home extension, here are our top eight tips to help you:

1) Understanding Your Requirements and getting building regulation drawings

One of the most important steps in finding the right company for your building project is to understand precisely what you require. Since each project is different, having professional architectural building regulation drawings is a great way to ensure your potential builder is quoting for the works correctly.

Builders will provide you with an estimate if you don't have construction drawings. However, this is just a number and is not contractually binding. A quote, on the other hand, is an agreed figure between you and the constructor regarding the price of the works.

2) Shop around for Quotes

  • Consult your architect for recommended builders or contractors. Your architect is likely the best person to ask for recommendations, as they have created the drawings and are familiar with the best builders or contractors who would be well-suited for your project.

  • After obtaining construction drawings, it's recommended to shop around for different builders or contractors. You can start by asking friends or family if they recently had building work done and can recommend anyone relevant.

  • Checkatrade or other sites to find builders or contractors

When you have a list of options, request a quote for the first fix only that covers everything, including materials and labor. Do not include windows, doors, skylights, and second fix materials in the quotes. Ensure that all quotes are for the same scope of work to avoid confusion. For instance, it would be confusing if one building quote includes windows and the other does not.

3) Do Your Research

Before selecting a company to provide a quote, it is essential to conduct thorough research on each option. Do not hesitate to ask for references; reputable companies will be happy to provide a list of satisfied customers.

It can be easy to be fooled by various badges and trade logos, so make sure to check any claims made by a company on their website.

Some builders or contractors offer a warranty for the loft conversion or home extension.

Focus on companies that show interest in your requests and with whom you have a good relationship.

4) Be clear

One of the most crucial steps in choosing a builder or contractor is to be clear and specific about your requirements. Providing high-quality architectural drawings to your chosen provider is an effective way to ensure that your needs are communicated in writing. Detailed and clear drawings leave no room for misunderstanding.

Without detailed drawings, your builder or contractor may have to guess what needs to be done, leading to costly mistakes.

5) Understand Your Contract

When selecting a builder or contractor, it is important to read through the contract carefully before signing. You should consider key factors such as:

  • What happens if unforeseen changes occur?

  • What happens if weather or other circumstances delay the project beyond the expected finish date?

  • What if the work does not meet satisfactory standards?

  • What materials will be used?

These are all important considerations, and having this information before work begins will give you peace of mind that your project will be completed to the highest standards.

6) Check their insurance

Before any work is carried out on your property, make sure that your builder is fully insured. Having insurance is essential to protect yourself and others against any accidents that may occur. It will also ensure that neighboring properties are protected in case of any damage caused by an accident.

Don't be afraid to ask to see the builder's insurance policy. It's a very common question, and a high-quality builder will be more than happy to show it to you.

7) Identify your point of contact

In most cases, your building project will involve multiple contractors working on-site at different times. While this is standard practice, it's important to have a project manager or regular point of contact to whom you can direct any concerns that may arise throughout the project.

8) Understand who is completing the snagging list

The rough-in and finish work is a crucial final step for any building project, so you must understand if your builder will be covering this within the project, whether you will need to hire someone or if you could do it yourself.

9) Complete a Final Inspection

Disagreements between builders and clients often arise during the final stage of a building project. Therefore, it is important to understand a builder's process for responding to a final inspection, and whether it is included in their services, when selecting a builder.

10) Checking a company and its director's history.

Checking a company and its director's history is important. You can do this through the government's company house website, which provides information like the length of time the company has been active. If the company is new, you can also check the directors and their company history.

Be cautious if the company director has had several companies open within the last ten years, all of which have been closed within a year or two. This may be a red flag.


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