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Choosing a Builder - Advice from Building Control

When choosing a builder, it is important to consider their reputation and attitude towards their work. Plus, how you can protect yourself should anything go wrong.

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Before choosing a builder

During home renovations, most building companies provide a good service. However, more people are experiencing problems including poor workmanship, excessive delays and overcharging. 

Our Building Control team cannot help you personally while you are choosing a builder. Instead, we have some suggestions to help you be certain you are hiring experienced, legitimate builders. 

First, check with Building Control to see if you need permissions

Before choosing a builder, you may need approval from Building Control for work to take place. Avoiding these permissions may lead to delays or legal issues later on.

For example, if you are selling the property, the buyer's solicitors will need proof of approval. 

There are two types of approval: 

1.    Planning Permission 
2.    Building Regulations

While you are choosing a builder

Request a quote in writing from at least two established builders. This written quotation should include full details of all planned work. 

Ask the following questions:

•    Are they specialists in an area of your project - where have they worked before? 
•    Are they happy to show examples of their previous work? 
•    Can their satisfied clients provide any references? 
•    Can they provide a completion date? Will they accept a penalty clause if they fail to meet this date?

Things to avoid while choosing a builder: 

•    Do not use cash deals to avoid paying VAT. Avoiding paying VAT could lead to prosecution or could void any claim under Consumer Protection Law. 
•    Be wary of 'cold calling' tradesmen, attempting to sell services you may not want or need. 
•    Do not assume the builder is a member of a recognised trade organisation. Contact the organisation yourself and check their membership is valid. 

Making sure your chosen builder has relevant insurance 

Can they provide an insurance backed warranty?

All professionals should provide public liability cover for at least £500, 000. Do not enter into a contract without proof of this insurance.

Finally, check your own property insurance to make sure you are covered during work and inform. Some contracts may also need you to tell your mortgage company as some have a requirement to notify them of works to a mortgaged property.

If you are unhappy with building work

Homeowners are responsible for any parts of the project outside of these regulations - including painting, finishes.

Please see our advice on how you may be covered if you are unhappy with building work.