Top 10 Tips

How to avoid the cowboys


How to Find a Good Builder


Disclaimer : We cannot guarantee that by following the advice below,  you'll end up with your 'Builder for Life' . These are guidelines to assist you in choosing a builder.

No.1 Tip :  SPREAD THE WORD - If you've found a good builder, then let your neighbours, friends and family know. Word of Mouth is the best advert a Builder can get.

1. Word of Mouth

Listen to others, if they've had

a good job done, then this is the best way to get a good builder through recommendations. This isn't however the same as ' my mate's a builder' thats great, but has he done any work for your friend / relative that they can reference.


2. The Internet

Spend a bit of time on your computer (if you have one) looking at builders in your area. A good builder may not always have a website though. But the internet can help you research anyone whose given you a quote, ie is this person a previous bankrupt, pictures of previous contracts, newspaper articles (good & bad)


3. Builders Merchants and Suppliers

They may not be willing to divulge information, but by asking at places where Builders shop, they may be able to recommend a good builder, they are not likley to recommend people who don't pay their bills regularly!!


4. Council Approved Contractors

Local councils may not divulge this information, but Exeter City publish their select list on theiir website.

Follow this link. Council Approved Contractors mean that the Council have checked the Company / Individual s Finance, Insurances and previous works.


5. Get it in Writing

Whether its minor or major works your having carried out, get your quote in writing, this should outline everything included in the price that is being offered to you.


6. Content of Quote

A good builder will have their own Terms & Conditions, usually on the back of the quote, alternatively if your having Major works done, one of the JCT Contracts may be used. As a minimum you need to be aware of when the builder expects to be paid, what guarantees are offered on the materials and workmanship, and any clauses such as weight restrictions, deliveries, welfare etc. Example -can your driveway take the weight of a delivery truck, you could be liable for the repair costs if any damage is caused ?


7. Health & Safety

Generally for most works over ground floor level, it may require a scaffold. If someone is happy to do a weeks work off a ladder at height, they are in breach of Health & Safety Legislation, and you could be liable if they have an accident. Check the HSE website. also a useful source of seeing whose been prosecuted in the area under Health & Safety Laws. A good builder will do things correctly and safely, its not just about the customers safety, but the staff on site and passers by.


8. References & Insurance

A good builder will be happy to show you copies of Insurance, Training Certificates, offer references. Please do not expect them to leave

a copy for you for Data Protection and Security reasons. Refusal to produce such items is likley to mean they don't have them in the first place, or there is no trust ..............



Is your builder using a skip, or taking waste away regularly. If they take their own waste they should have some form of licence from the Environment Agency for disposal at Landfill. Ensuring your waste is disposed of correctly, avoids flytipping. It won't just be the builder whose fined.


10. Subcontractors

A large number of builders will  subcontract some elements of the work to other people such as electricians and plumbers. The costs of these services should be included in the Builders quote, therefore it will be the Builders ( sometimes refered to as ' Main Contractor') responsibility to pay them (check what is in your quote). Subcontractors of a good builder will generally work to the same ethics of the builder, and are usually regulars who have worked with the Builder for several jobs / years. A poor subcontractor can damage the reputation of a good builder, therefore the two don't generally go hand in hand. 


1. Not VAT Registered

If your having a considerable amount of work done ie £35,000 and your Builder isn't VAT Registered, that means your job is approx 50% of his annual work. The threshold for regstration is a turnover of approx £73,000 per year........


2. No Landline Number

Some mobiles such as Pay as you Go, are not easily traced. Where possible try and get a landline number from your builder.


3. Not from around here

The out of towner may have given you a great price, and may initially do a great job, but what happens if you get problems once they've left site. How quickly or easily will they come back to rectify any problems if they are 100 miles up the M5, you may be left doing it yourself or paying someone else to sort it out. Bear this in mind when choosing someone from out of the area. 


4. Memberships & Accreditations

Some of these schemes just require the Builder to fill in a few forms, send in a cheque and hey presto you get a sticker for your van. Going back to internet research, the majority of these schemes will have a website, therefore look at what the builder has to do to get his membership / accreditation. The best Memberships and Accreditations are those that require an actual Audit carried out by an external party. This means that someone who doesn't work for the Builder has checked what they say they are doing - they are really doing, and the qualifications they say they've got - they have.


5. Money Up Front

Most Builders will not generally ask for money up front. If however, you are asking your builder to order a bespoke item ie a handmade staircase, they may ask for a deposit to cover any upfront costs they may have to pay.


A good customer / builder  relationship needs to work both ways, so once you've found your 'Builder for Life', please repsect your Builder by :


1. Paying on Time

The builder is not a bank, they need to pay their suppliers and staff. Cash flow within a business is key to its continued operation.


2. Avoiding Changes

Once you've received your quote, and selected your Builder. Run through the job and the quote before work commences to ensure the quote includes everything you asked for. Breakdown in relationships between customer and Builder are generally over money or amounts charged. Just bear in mind, if you make changes to any part of the works, agree a price with your builder beforehand. Otherwise don't be suprised when it appears on your Invoice. You cannot expect a Builder to do any work not accounted for, for Free, they are running a business after all.


3. Communication

The key to a good job and working relationship is Communication. If your leaving your Builder for the day in order to go to work, try and have a brief catch up before you leave to establish what they are carrying out that day. This should avoid you coming home after a hard days work to find the builder hasn't done something correctly due to lack of communicaiton on your or their behalf.


4. Problems

Before it escalates into a poor relationship, arrange to have a meeting with your builder and go through any problems you may have. A good builder will generally be happy to rectify what are usually minor issues, or they may come up with alternative solutions. Ensure you inform your Builder as soon as you have a problem, by the following day they may have taken the job further and the mistake cannot be rectified ie altering locations of items. By remaining calm throughout the process, and communicating regularly it will be a lot less stressful. You'll also end up with the job you want, as the working relationship between you and your builder will be a happy one !


5. Contingency

A contingency is a sum of money you allow as a 'buffer' on top of the cost of the job. Its good to allow an additional 10% on larger jobs. This ensures you are able to cover the cost of any unforseen work that arises during the contract ie a collapsed drain, dry rot discovered after the removal of fixed items etc.


6. Disruption

If you having quite a bit of work carried out ie new kitchen / bathroom / internal alterations, be prepared for disruption. Discuss a programme of works with the builder so you know roughly what is going to happen and when. Some work may be less stressful if you are able to stay elsewhere for the duration of the works.


7. Personal Items

Before work commences, remove all personal items from the working areas. This is to avoid them either getting damaged or covered in dust. If furniture needs to be moved, some builders may offer to move this for you. Discuss this option with your builder before work commences.  


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Building Contractor Ltd

Teignmouth   Devon   UK 

'Quality Workmanship by a Qualified Workforce'

Tel: 01626 778225