Choosing the right contractor for work on your home

Choosing the right contractor for work on your home

For a homeowner finding the right building company to complete an extension or loft conversion can be difficult if they have little experience of building work or builders.

Construction companies can be involved in a project from the very beginning, but more usually, they are appointed once the client has planning permission.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) represents small to medium-sized builders, contractors and house builders across England and Wales.

In order to maintain the NFB’s high standards members must provide business and financial references, be VAT registered (if applicable), have public liability insurance, be CITB registered, and adhere to a strict Code of Conduct in their relationships with clients.

The endorsement of the NFB means a builder that is a member is considered reliable, honest, and trustworthy. Members are expected to adhere to the highest standards and best practice in the industry. However, in the rare instance that a member comes under investigation, the NFB will be thorough in its enquiries. If they are found to be in breach of the code of conduct or found to fall short of its standards, the NFB has procedures in place to expel or remove the member from membership.

The NFB has a list of tips on its websites for finding a builder that is right for the job:

It can be found here: http://www.builders.org.uk/find-a-builder/

The advice includes asking for recommendations from family and friends who have recently had work done. Then make up a shortlist of possible builders.

It also advises that you check how long they have been trading and what experience they have in the work you need completing.  It is also worth asking for references from other customers who have used the company.

The NFB warns that even if a builder claims to be a NFB member you should check with the association to ensure they are indeed a current member. Their displaying a NFB badge on their documents is not enough.

Obviously, you will want quotes from at least three companies and these should give full details in writing of what they will cover and what they cannot.  The more details you can give the builder of the jobs the better and your specification should include start/completion dates, security, costs of work and materials.

The quotes should allow for site maintenance, clearance and material supplies. You should not need to pay upfront or a cash deposit, unless you request specialist building materials or the job is likely to take a long time to complete.

Another tip is to avoid a ‘VAT-free’ deal – You will not have a valid contract if there is no proof of payment.

Once you have made your choice it is important to agree payment terms clearly in writing with your builder.

Finally, are they offering a guarantee on a large-scale job? If it is a new build you will need a guarantee on the property. Equally importantly are they insured both against property damage and personal and public liability to protect you and the general public in the event of an accident or injury?