These are just 10 simple questions you may want to drop into the conversation to help you get some background knowledge of your builder before they begin to work on your home or business. Hopefully the answers you receive will help you weed out the good from the bad.
1. How long have you been doing this?
This is a critical question as experience is a very relevant aspect. It takes a lot of years in the construction industry for a builder to build up a good solid core of knowledge; this cannot be achieved in a few years, so ideally you would have a lot of years in the trade behind you before you would contemplate setting up as a builder.
2. Have you done this kind of work before?
Ideally the answer will be yes, but not always necessary as a lot of building experience can be transferable between different aspects of work. A great understanding and depth of knowledge of the principles can go a long way.
3. Do you do free quotations?
This is expected, any builder who wants the work will need to price up for it. If the builder you have contacted asks for a fee then you should move onto another builder who doesn’t.
4. Have you got much work on?
A busy builder is a good sign especially in these hard economic times, but once again do not discount someone because they can start soon. Sometimes jobs just fall in line as, one ends a new one begins. A checkable background is a far more accurate assessment of builder’s capabilities. If they are really busy are they over-stretched?
5. Do you require a deposit before work commences?
“No” is the answer you want here. Unless you require bespoke items that need fabricated or ordered in specially there is simply no need, any builder who has a good trading history will have credit accounts with his regular suppliers. Why should you pay up front for services that have not even begun?
6. Do you supply written quotations?
This is an absolute must, verbal quotations mean nothing. You need it in writing it’s as simple as that as that!
7. How do payments work?
On small jobs at the end of the work is good practice; on bigger projects stage payments on completion of agreed targets is the norm.
8. Are you VAT registered?
On smaller projects this is not as much of an issue; however on larger projects it is more relevant. The threshold for VAT is £77,000.00 (turn over not profits). If a builder is not VAT registered and this is a larger job are they big enough and experienced enough to do it, how many extensions/renovations/new builds does it take to hit the VAT threshold?
9. Do you work to a written contract?
On small jobs it’s not really necessary, bigger projects an absolute must. You have very little come back if there is no written contract between both parties. Not getting a contract for building work is like buying a house without signing any paper work, you wouldn’t! So for one of the most costly purchases you can make insist on it.
10. Can you provide relevant references?
This is a really important question! When your builder does provide them, check them out to make sure they are legitimate. If your builder cannot produce references, ask yourself why?