Nine questions you should ‘always’ ask a builder before they start any work

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Any Simms, a building expert from, said: “Extending or renovating your home can be stressful.

“Sometimes there are unavoidable challenges which can creep up on you in a building project, but other times, a bit more planning and communication at the beginning can save you some serious headaches, not to mention time and money.”

1. What experience do you have for this kind of project?

Finding out if they have done this type of work before is essential as some projects are super complex and need the correct expertise.

The expert said: “For example, basement conversions or loft conversions can require additional work with party wall surveyors. Having a specific expert for these projects can eliminate stress or delays.”

2. Are you accredited?

Andy explained: “Membership of a trade body is not a guarantee of the quality of work, but it is a good way to check the reliability of your potential builder, and for some types of tradespeople it is essential.

READ MORE: 10 ‘important’ gardening jobs to do in December for a beautiful spring garden

“Tradespeople on MyBuilder are subject to continuous vetting by consumers through our trusted feedback system – here’s some more information on what to check.”

3. Do you have references and reviews?

Finding a builder through a platform such as allows Britons to see the rating and reviews of previous jobs completed by the builder as well as pictures of previous work.

This is essential when hiring anyone to carry out work in the home as it helps you relax that they’ll do a great job.

4. Is your price a quote or an estimate?

The building expert continued: “This can be a tricky one – is the price for the end job or is it a rough estimate? The quote might also be based on how long the job takes.

“You probably also want to avoid paying a day rate, as that leaves you open to extra costs if the job overruns. Something I must point out is ALL quotes should be confirmed in writing.

“Ideally, you’d have a full breakdown of costs for your project. At the moment there can be a large change in costs for the raw materials, so some builders’ quotes are only valid for a short period of time.

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“Steel and wood prices have increased dramatically since COVID-19, so if you have priced up a similar job before, expect a new quote to be significantly more.

“We’d also advise to get quotes from at least three tradespeople, if possible. This will allow you to identify if any are extremely low or high.”

5. Do you have insurance cover?

All accredited builders should have the relevant cover, according to the expert, such as public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance, in case any damage occurs.

6. Do you offer a guarantee of your work?

According to Andy, it’s always good to know what guarantees builders offer in case there are issues after the job is finished. He explained: “Try to get this made official via paperwork or email; it’s something that most tradespeople should be willing to provide if it isn’t automatically offered.

“Tradespeople will often offer guarantees on their work and/or materials. If they don’t, you should consider confirming which potential defects they’d return to fix and if there’s going to be any cost for this. You should also agree on an appropriate length of time for this offer to stand.”

7. What are your payment terms?

It is always important to know how builders want to be paid and whether or not it can be paid after completion or in instalments.

Make sure to also check if the builder requires any deposits before the work has even started.

8. When can you start

The building expert said: “Builders often have a waiting list so it’s good to know when they can start the job. Try to get a definitive date booked and hope they can stick to it.

“Project time periods can move and usually do, be prepared to start early or finish late. It’s good to know the timings of a project, for example, if you’re renovating a kitchen, how long will you be without an oven or sink, likewise a bathroom, how long without a toilet or shower?”

9. How do you take your tea?

If you have a project such as a new kitchen which may be going on for several months, the expert recommended creating a good relationship with them.

A good starting point is to find out how they like their tea and other any relevant information about them.

Andy added: “Being able to maintain good communication throughout the project is essential. You don’t need to become best friends, but you should be able to have a professional relationship and feel comfortable speaking openly about any concerns that may arise and dealing with any issues.”

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