Before you employ a builder to work on your extension you should do your research to make sure the work involved will be carried out properly, safely and within budget. As well as using this website for builders in your area, you can also ask family and friends for recommendations. Look around and visit other completed extensions carried on in your neighbourhood and make it your business to call to the house when the builders are gone and review their extension and ask as many questions as necessary.
Spend some time preparing a list of the building work you want done on your extension. Although often time consuming, the more detail you include on this list the better. You can use the list to focus on exactly what you want to achieve and it will also be the basis for any discussions with prospective builders. Even if you have little artistic ability, simple drawings can go a long way to help explain your ideas to the builder and allow you to check if they are feasible or not. Where possible, draw to scale using actual measurements and check the sizes of the intended kitchen units, window and slider positions to ensure they will fit into the available space.
Get written estimates from at least four builders (your architect will draw up a tender document) and ask them to explain any variations in cost from your own calculations. Ask to visit previous work carried out by the builder that you intend to employ and if possible, speak to the previous customer to find out their opinion of the builder and learn about problems they encountered and how they were resolved. Learning from the experience of previous customers is immensely valuable in reducing budget overruns and getting your project finished on time. Make sure the building quotes you get cover everything from start to finish, including property preparation, rubbish removal and site tidy up after the project is completed.
Price should not be the only consideration when choosing a builder or architect. You need to be confident that your property project is as important to your builder as it is to you. You should also insure that the builder has the appropriate level of insurance cover. Depending on your project the builders may be around your house for weeks and even months and you need a good relationship with them. Put everything important and relevant in writing. No matter how well recommended the builder is and how well you get on with them, a written contract is absolutely essential in resolving the inevitable problems. The contract should include details of how payment will be made, either in stages or as a once off payment on successful completion of the project.
The following is a useful checklist before selecting a builder;
- Check a builder is registered and has operated within the HRI scheme
- Ask for references and check them out
- Ask about a builder’s experience and qualifications
- Check whether the builder uses sub-contractors and ask how many jobs he will be working at the same time and when he can start
- Ensure the builder has insurance if something goes badly wrong
- Always ask for a detailed itemised quote, checking how long the quote is guaranteed
- Draw up a detailed work contract if the work you require is substantial;
- Agree phases of work and stage-payments before work starts
- Agree sign off procedure for works and payment
- Keep a final payment until the work is complete and snags rectified