Regardless of how you identified your prospective builder we would strongly advise you following these steps:
- Apply these steps even for a builder who was referred to you by the most trustworthy source!
- Estimates – Ask two or three builders for estimates in writing. Ask them to confirm whether there is any design or planning permission required for the work.
- References – Ask each builder for two or three references. Contact the referees and find out how happy they are with the work done and the builder’s conduct. If possible go and view some of this work.
- Agree the work – Make an agreement or contract in writing. It should outline the work to be done, date of completion, security and safety, catering and lavatory arrangements, disposal of waste materials, hours of working and so on. The NFB commends the easy-to-follow JCT contracts for homeowners.
- Insurance – Ask to see the builder’s public liability insurance certificate. Also, the building work may affect your home& contents insurance – contact your own insurance company to inform them of the intended work.
- Deposits and Payment – Deposits are usually only payable where specific or custom-made materials are required or where the project will take a long time for completion. Otherwise, avoid paying deposits and agree any payment schedule in writing.
- Beware the VAT-free ‘deal’ – A VAT-free ‘deal’ means one of two things. Either the builder does not do sufficient business each year to reach the VAT threshold or he is avoiding his legal tax liabilities. You need to ask yourself if the builder is large enough to complete the work, will he be around if any of the work requires repair and how you can have a valid contract if there is no proof of payment?