How to find the right builder

Finding the right builder isn’t as straightforward as you might hope; here are Andrew Stanway’s tips to get it right.

In this article we cover:

  • Routes to finding a builder
  • How to check if they’re a fit
  • Checklist of what to look out for
  • Ways to know if you’ve found the right builder

Q: I know it might sound crazy but I’m really worried about choosing the right builder for my new home. I hear so many horror stories and I don’t want to fall into the same traps.

Andrew says: You’re wise to be concerned because getting this right will make all the difference to your life over the period of your build… and to your bank balance.

As the manager of your project this will be the single most important decision you’ll make. You’ll need to be able to trust him to do what he says he will, to the standards you agree, on time and budget and to behave well towards you, your visitors and professionals.

the right builder

This is asking a lot of someone you’ve never met, so the very best way of making the choice is to use someone who has already proven themselves either to you in the past; to friends or acquaintances of yours; or to one of your professional team. Your designers or architects may have a preferred contractor with whom they want to work, for example. Some people in your situation simply like the look of a particular building site and decide to approach the builder ‘cold’.

However you find a potential builder there’s no substitute for going to a site he is currently running. Here’s what to look for:

  • How does the whole place lookand feel, even from across the street?
  • Does it look tidy, professional and safe?
  • How are cars and other vehicles parked? Are they annoying the neighbours, parked across pavements, or on other public areas?
  • Does his van have his name, address and contact details on it?
  • Are skips being tidily managed?
  • Have his vehicles left mud tracks on the public highway?
  • Is there a name board on the site with his company details prominently shown?
  • What do his workers look like? Are they properly dressed with high-viz jackets, proper safety boots and hard hats?
  • Does the site look secure?
  • Are radios blaring?
  • When you approach workers are they polite and helpful?
  • When on the site to see the builder do you find yourself tripping over cables and pipes?
  • Are materials neatly stacked?
  • Is rubbish strewn around the place?
  • Are workers doing dangerous jobs wearing protective gear?
the right builder

But the most important thing will be how you feel about the person and how you think you could work together. And a lot of this will be based on intuition and gut feeling. Just because a very highly recommended contractor has worked well for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a good fit for you.

As you start to explore how he works and how he deals with your project early on, you should be able to get an idea of how you could work together. Involving your partner can often be helpful here, to get another head on the issue. As with any relationship, it will also take time and effort to build mutual trust and respect with your builder.

Share and Enjoy !


Andrew Stanway

Written by Andrew Stanway

Andrew is a project manager with over 30 years’ experience. He is also a writer and the author of Managing Your Build published by Stobart Davies.

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