Choosing a good builder

Carrying out building work can be quite stressful, disruptive, inconvenient and costly. To minimise the impact of any building work on you, it is important to make sure you choose a reliable, skilled builder.

Finding a good builder

To find a suitable builder, you should:

  • ask family or friends for a recommendation if they had building work done recently
  • contact a local builders' association for a list of registered members
  • ask two or three builders for estimates in writing, and ask them if you need planning permission for the work
  • ask each builder for two or three references from previous customers - and contact these people and find out how happy they were with the work and the builder's conduct (if possible go and view some of the work)
  • make sure the builder belongs to a respected trade organisation with membership standards
  • check the builder has current membership and has the required health and safety training
  • have a written agreement or contract with the builder, outlining the work to be done, finish date, security and safety, catering and lavatory arrangements, disposal of waste materials, working hours
  • ask to see the builder's public liability insurance certificate
  • contact your insurance company as the building work may affect your home and contents insurance

Deposits and payment

You should only pay a deposit if:

  • the work needs specific or custom-made material
  • the work will take a long time to finish

If you're paying in stages, it is important to agree a written payment schedule.

Builder doesn't charge VAT 

If the builder offers you a VAT free deal, one of two explanations apply:

  • the builder isn't registered for VAT because they do less than £85,000 of business a year
  • they're avoiding paying VAT

You need to decide if:

  • the builder is equipped to finish your work in the agreed time
  • the builder will be in business if the work needs repair
  • you have a valid contract when there is no proof of payment

Trustmark scheme

The scheme: 

  • makes sure traders who sign up are qualified to do building work
  • has a complaints procedure
  • Find an approved trader

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.