Stuart Barr
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14th Jun 2016

Build it Live; How to Choose a Builder

Last weekend Stuart Barr, director of StuartBarrCDR was invited to present at the Bicester Build It Live Exhibition on behalf of the Federation of Master Builders. He was able to share our thoughts and those of the FMB on what is important in choosing a builder and how best to work together to get the very most out of your contractor.  

Building works can be a major financial commitment and an emotionally challenging experience. Whether embarking on a small-scale renovation project, a single storey extension or the new forever home, choosing the right builder is a crucial decision - and can be the make or break for any project.

Choosing a builder who you trust and have a good relationship with is very important. You need to determine the level of involvement you would like in the project. Will you be hands on or are you prepared to let the builder have the brief and get to work? You need to be sure that the builder you choose will understand this and you will work well together.

Choosing a builder for the wrong reasons such as price can cause all sorts of problems. Ensure you are able to communicate well, they can give you guidance and advice and they understand what it is you want to achieve.

At StuartBarrCDR we have construction directors who specialise in a particular build type and can hold clients hands through the process where required. Most smaller-scale extensions and renovations fall under the Direct to Client sector run by Chris Noonan. These works tend not to require planning permission and may not involve an architect or other third parties. The essence of our DTC department is that a schedule of works, time lines, budgets, materials and sourcing, as well as structural calculations and building regulations, can be dealt with between client and construction director, simplifying the process and cutting out extra costs.

Here are the FMB’s five tips for finding the right builder:

Ask around - There’s nothing better than a recommendation from a friend or family member who has had building work done.

Go online - If family or friends can’t help, there are plenty of online services that are available. The FMB has a Find A Builder service where you are able to find FMB members to help with your project.

Prepare a brief - This is your project so make sure you get exactly what you want. Produce a written brief, including detailed drawings where possible, and give a copy to each builder who quotes.

Get quotes in - Ask at least 3 builders to quote on your job and don’t just go with the cheapest. Look at the breakdown of costs, if some seem a lot cheaper than others ask how they will achieve it for the price without cutting corners.

Talk to previous customers - Go and visit some of the builders’ previous jobs. Most reputable traders will be more than happy to show off their previous work and while you’re there you can get a personal reference from a satisfied customer.

Once you’ve found a builder there are few things you can do to make sure it all runs smoothly…

Get a contract – Make sure everything is agreed in writing beforehand. Make sure it includes everything you would like done, including supply of materials, safe removal and disposal of waster, snagging and ‘making good’ after all the work is finish.

Talk about money – Set a payment schedule for instalments to be paid as parts of the project are completed. Never hand over large sums of money upfront.

Set some ground rules – Make sure you agree start and finish times with your builder as well as which facilities in your home they can use.

Tidy up – Clear away everything from the site where building will take place and ensure children and pets stay away while the build is in progress.

Keep talking – Most problems occur when there is a breakdown in communication. Make sure you have regular meetings with your builder so you know what’s going on and if any issues arise they can be dealt with quickly. It’s okay to change your mind about certain aspects but make sure you communicate the changes to your builder as soon as you can and get amended quote before you confirm you’d like to go ahead.

Good Luck with your project and please give us a call if you would like to chat to one of our team for advice about your build.

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