Sunday, December 17

Self Building? A Guide To Finding The Perfect Builder.

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Self building is becoming more and more popular but that is because more people are choosing to build their own homes now but some never pick up a tool.  Many people either get a project manager to look after the build for them or they become the project manager but hire a builder to actually build their house.  Many builders are out of work at the moment due to the economic downturn and building work is scarce.  However there are just as many rogue builders out there as good ones so beware of falling into the hands of a bad builder.  Below are some points to take into account when appointing your builder.

·Don’t be naive or in too much of a hurry in appointing the first builder you come across.  Always make checks and do your research because you would do so with any other investment you undertake.  Family and friends recommendations are great but make sure that whatever job they are doing for you they have done the same job for them.  Differences in jobs carried out can be immense.  If you are using an architect they normally know of good builders in your area.

·Don’t be afraid of asking for references from any builder and always follow them up.  It is even better if you can view some of their work and make sure that there is more than one reference to refer to.  If there is only one, perhaps this is the only good one!

·Don’t trust any websites that rate how good any builder is, these recommendations could have been written by anyone and web addresses are so easy to fake.  You could be reading a recommendation posted by the builder’s wife!

·Check that they are who they say they are.  If they have badges for membership to organisations then check, a good builder would not mind.

Once these checks have been carried out then you can move to the next stage.  Remember to THREE LIKE FOR LIKE QUOTATIONS. Each one of these needs to have a comprehensive breakdown; give a detailed brief about what exactly it is you want building.  Ask for everything to be included in the quote, even something minor as the skips as it will save you hundreds as you will know the true costs rather than an estimate.  Your quote should also tell you the expected timeframe of the job which is really important.

Remember that the cheapest quote that you receive is not always the best one, so be very thorough.

If you try to get hold of the builder to discuss the quote for any reason and you find it impossible getting an answer then imagine what it will be like if he is doing the job for you.

Next you need to agree the quote with the builder and more importantly get a contract which should state exactly what work is getting done and for how much and a timescale.  Whether the work comes with a guarantee and is insurance-backed and if you will receive compensation should the job run over.  Now contracts state whether high-tech energy efficiency systems are going to be installed too, so if these are going to be incorporated into the build make sure that these are in the contract. 

The golden rule is that a good builder will not work without a contract as they want to be covered as well, in case you do not pay.

A deposit is normally needed up front so that you can secure a start date but beware of builders offering a VAT free deal or wanting cash up front.

Have a contingency fund of around 10% to 15% without your builder knowing, this is in case the weather takes a turn for the worse or some materials may be unobtainable.

Managing The Job:-

You can either become your own project manager or appoint one to do the job for you.  If you are going to micro-manage the job make sure that you known what you are talking about otherwise you are simply going to annoy the builders and tradesmen.  If you appoint a project manager you could assign your architect or perhaps a chartered surveyor. 

Don’t change your mind once the job has started and never settle the final bill until all work is complete.  You will have to pay in stages due to expensive materials and labour but make sure that building regulations have been signed off before finalising any bill.

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