How To Locate & Employ The Best Local Building Firms

Did you realise that it is estimated that between 1/4 of all home improvement jobs overrun in cost and about a 1/3 take a bit longer than estimated?

Having made a decision to have some building work carried out at your home, perhaps in the form of an extension to meet the needs of a growing family, one of the most difficult and potentially stressful tasks is to select a local building firm to carry out the work to a good standard and at a reasonable price.

Reports suggest that the Office of Fair Trading has found that, on an annual basis, UK households are paying out in the region of £1.6 billion to have building work put right due to an unsatisfactory standard of workmanship carried out by so called "cowboy builders".

Yes, it is easy to find a local building firm just by doing a search of the Internet, perusing Yellow Pages or looking in the appropriate section of your weekly local paper. However, how do you establish that the building firm that you select from one of these sources is good at doing their job, won't over-charge you or lack the necessary legal certification?

Check Your Tradesman Before Your Hire!

Below are a number of suggestions that should help make the task of finding a reputable local firm of builders a little easier for you and go some way towards providing you with peace of mind that you have made the correct choice.
  1. Obtain recommendations from friends, neighbours, family and work colleagues that have had work carried out satisfactorily over a number of years. Inspect the work.
  2. Search on review websites such as FairTrades.co.uk where customers give tradespeople a rating for a variety of things such as quality and value.
  3. Trade body/associations websites such as the FairTrades Association for Builders & Glaziers maintain lists of members. You should check the building firms' details/credentials that you request quotes from with these bodies.
  4. Check that the building firm have a website including full contact details such as a local office address, landline phone number, fax number, mobile phone number and e-mail address. Any postal correspondence from the firm should be on letter headed paper and they should provide a business card upon first meeting you.
  5. Obtain the contact details of clients that the building firm has carried out work for over the years and contact these referees, including visiting some of them, to discuss and inspect the standard of work.
  6. Obtain written quotes from at least three different firms of builders to better assess the prices.
  7. Provide the building firms that you want quotes from with a thorough, written specification of the work required including drawings if you have any.
  8. All building firms should understand and support your wish to obtain a number of written quotes from several firms of builders and not place you under any undue pressure to instruct them until you are ready to proceed.
  9. The written quotes from the building firms should detail all the costs to include all the work that you want done, the materials to be used, the removal of all rubbish and "making good" once all the work has been completed.
  10. Once you have finally selected the building firm, a fixed price contract should be drawn up incorporating the aforementioned things together with start and completion dates with set staged payments. FairTrades strongly recommends that a Homeowner's Contract be used.
  11. The building firm should provide you with a copy of their public liability insurance and any other trade insurances covering the likes of damage to property plus produce certificates confirming any formal training/relevant qualifications they have gained. You should notify your buildings and contents insurer of your intention to have building work carried out.
  12. The building firm should provide a written guarantee about the work that should, ideally, be supported by an insurance policy.
  13. The building firm should be prepared to notify the local council of any work that is completed that they need to be aware of.
  14. The business owner and employees should be well presented, their vehicle should be clean and tidy and it should be professionally sign-written with the business name, contact details and details of any trade bodies that the firm is a member of.
  15. Any sub-contractors such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, glaziers and solar installers should provide evidence that they are registered members of appropriate trade bodies such as NICEIC, GasSafe, Certass, BM Trada etc..


Hopefully, by following the above suggestions you will be perfectly happy with the building firm that you select, the quality of the work and the price you have paid.



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Fair Trades is the trading name of Fair Trades Ltd. Fair Trades Ltd is registered in England
Company Number 1813671. Registered Office is Suite 40B, Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, L3 1BY
General Enquiries: (+44) 0800 131 0123 - Membership Enquiries: 0800 131 0500 - Fax: (+44) 0800 131 0900