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

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