You’d think the process of finding a good local builder would be relatively simple: look in any advertising directory and there are always lots of them competing for your attention.

But it’s difficult to predict quality and reliability from an advertisement, or even from meeting the builder in person. That’s why it’s a good idea to use the following sources as a way of becoming more informed right from the beginning, before you even ask for a quotation.

PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION

Word of mouth is one of the most reliable ways to get a sense of whether you’d like to engage a particular builder.

Ask a friend or acquaintance for their recommendation and you’ll not only be able to see the finished result, but also get the inside track on the builder’s working practices.

You can find out what your friend paid for the work, too, whereas you might shy away from bringing up the topic of money with a stranger.

BOARDS OUTSIDE HOUSES UNDERGOING WORK

Take a walk through your neighbourhood and see whether there are any properties under renovation where the builder displays their advertising boards outside.

If you like what they’re doing with the place, note down their contact details. Of course this method provides no guarantee that the firm is reputable, tidy or punctual, but it’s a reasonable guide as to whether there’s a good aesthetic fit between your house and their work.

ASK YOUR DESIGNER OR ARCHITECT

If your designer or architect is part of a local company they’ll certainly have worked with tradesmen in your local area.

Better still, you’ll know any recommendation comes with a guarantee that the builder has the capacity to complete work to a high standard and in a timely fashion.

Some architects even offer a project management service, so if you really can’t face the whole process of working directly with a builder you could place it entirely in their hands.

CHECK REFERENCES

You’d think this point would be obvious, but think again: when we employ a builder, most of us don’t take the trouble even to request references. Because written references are easy to forge, by far the best way to go about this is to ask for the contact details of your prospective builder’s three most recent clients.

Contact each one directly and ask as many probing questions about their performance as you like: for big projects, don’t be afraid to request a viewing of the finished work.

TRADE ORGANISATIONS

A wise precautionary step is to check whether the builder you’re thinking of hiring is registered with a trade association.

In the UK, the most prominent trade associations are the Federation of Master Builders, the National Federation of Builders and the Guild of Builders and Contractors.

Of course, membership of these bodies is no guarantee of quality building work, but it goes a long way towards ruling out the most reckless fly-by-nights.

BUILDER REVIEW WEBSITES

The internet has revolutionised standards in all kinds of trades and services, largely through websites where customers can publish uncensored reviews. MyBuilder.com is one such site, which allows you to post details of the project you’d like carried out and enables interested contractors to bid for the position.

Customers who’ve already employed that builder will have left feedback, so you can check out their reputation before giving them the go-ahead.

ASK A COUNCIL INSPECTOR

Local Building Inspectors are an untapped fount of knowledge about the performance of tradesmen in your area. Since their job is all about ensuring good standards of building practice, they’ll have a good idea of which builders can be trusted and which to avoid.

Your local inspector probably won’t be able to give you a formal recommendation of which company to use, but it’s worth taking their off-the-record opinion into consideration.

LOOK FOR THE TRUST MARK

The Trust Mark is a reliability indicator issued by a body consisting of many different trade organisations (such as the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Roofing Contractors).

As the name suggests, the Trust Mark is awarded to companies that fulfil certain criteria related to their business practices, so it isn’t an indicator of trade competence. However, it is a handy way of screening out the dodgy practitioners in an industry notorious for sharp practice.

When you’re next looking for a tradesman, don’t just choose at random. Use the suggestions above and meet your prospective builder with your eyes wide open.

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If you are looking to add value to your home, speak to one of our professionals today by calling 01280 818 786 or contact us online.

 

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