The thought of renovating your property and being one step closer to your dream home is an incredibly exciting prospect; however, putting your faith in a builder that you know little about can be a little daunting. It can often feel as if many construction companies try to plough through the project quickly, cutting corners to get the final payment in the shortest timeframe possible. And while we have all heard the stories of cowboy builders causing more harm than good, this needn’t be the case. Through meticulous research and keeping our top tips on finding a good local builder in mind, you are guaranteed to find a reliable company who can bring your vision to life.
Tips To Ensure You Hire A Good Local Builder
If we haven’t personally experienced a nightmare with a rogue construction company, then we’ve heard it from a loved one or on the television. Everyone is aware of the array of potential dangers that come alongside hiring a dishonest business or individual and trusting them with your home. Our builders in Milton Keynes, in particular, have worked with several clients in the past to rectify the damage caused by another trader who has provided a poor standard of work. With this in mind, before delving into our tips, we wanted first to highlight the fact that as a consumer, you are protected by three statutory terms. These are the following:
- Reasonable Care & Skill – You are entitled to terminate your contract, refuse to pay or ask for money back if you believe that your selected company is not acting with ‘reasonable care and skill’.
- Reasonable Time Taken – When planning any project, the assumption is that all work completed within a reasonable timeframe. Due to this, it is important to set a deadline date before commencing work. If work exceeds the timescale, you can terminate the project.
- Reasonable Cost – If commissioned work has been carried out, and you are left with an expensive bill, you must make your objections clear when you pay. Ensure that you write ‘paid under protest’ either on the back of the cheque or on the documents as this will allow you to take action afterwards.
For more information on the three statutory terms, head over to the What Consumer website.
Now that you are familiarised with your right as a consumer when embarking on construction work on your home, you can begin your search for a builder who will be able to match your vision. We have split our guide into the following two categories, each is filled with handy tips:
Unless you know personally of builders you can trust, shortlisting potential companies can be tedious. With hundreds of traders in every area, how can you have the reassurance that you have picked the best? This is something that will take a considerable amount of research, so we suggest keeping these points in mind:
Look Out For Advertisements
If you spot a building company through advertisements of their services on paid campaigns, billboards, social media, etc. then it is a good indication that they are reliable. Taking time to design and construct advertisements take both time and money. It shows that the company has funds to advertise its business successfully through proven, reputable platforms.
Particularly if a company is advertising via paid online campaigns, you can be reassured that search engines have thoroughly audited both their ads and website before being approved. You can use this to your advantage to investigate further into their website to check out genuine customer feedback and proof of previous construction work.
Ask Others For Recommendations
One of the best ways to gain an honest insight into the quality of a company is through simply asking loved ones if they know of anyone who would be ideal for tackling your project. Most traders rely on gaining work through word of mouth, which means that they will always strive to maintain their reputation. If they know that a previous customer has recommended you, they will focus on meeting the high expectations of their work. Friends, family and even work colleagues that you know have previously renovated their home is always a fantastic place to start.
Always Check Company Reviews
Having offered house extensions in Buckingham and the surrounding areas for many years, we have become increasingly aware of the ever-growing need for reviews to support projects. There is no better way for a potential customer to make up their mind on the reliability of shortlisted companies than a first-hand insight from previous customers. We strive to collect and share as much feedback as possible to take an honest approach to projects. If you notice that a company has no trace of reviews, then red flags should begin to pop up.
When researching into potential builders, take a look at the top review sites to see whether they are listed. If so, take a browse through their feedback and spot whether there are any reoccurring problems. While it is important to be wary, remember that no one is perfect. Don’t be put off by a single bad review in an ocean of fantastic feedback. Some of the most popular construction review sites to consider are:
Be Wary Of Unexpected Calls / Visits
Always be wary of builders who unexpectedly call or knock on your door claiming that something is wrong with your home. While there may be a handful of traders who genuinely have your best interests at heart and want to help, it is too much of a risk to go ahead with a project on this basis.
If you hire a builder for unplanned construction work, you are unlikely to ever get to the root of the issue. You would have noticed no problems with your home, therefore have no real idea on how big the project is and what it is you are trying to achieve. Cowboy builders will use this to their advantage, continuing to add on extra jobs to make more money. What started as a slight hole in the roof can quickly be transformed into them claiming that your entire roof needs to be replaced – not a position that you want to find yourself in.
Once you have narrowed down a handful of building companies who you would like to contact, it is vital to keep in mind the key qualities to look out for when speaking with them and throughout your project. The key characteristics of a reputable builder include:
Flexibility With The Project
When spending a significant amount of money on renovating your home or building an extension, you want the work to be completed during a time period that suits you. Each step of the process should be based on your requirements to cause minimal disruption to daily life – after all, you are paying a lot of money for the trader’s services.
It is important to keep in mind that many companies have a busy schedule, so you may have to wait a few weeks for your first date. However, once the project has commenced, a builder who offers complete flexibility shows passion for customer satisfaction. It provides an insight into their traits, that they care for not only your property but also your family. Make sure that your chosen builder is allowing you to make the decisions on the next steps and is flexible with the materials you would like to use.
Warranty On Their Work
While you never want to question as to whether a builder will provide high-quality, long-lasting results, you can never be too sure, which is why a warranty is an absolute ‘must-have’. If a problem arises after the project is complete, a warranty will allow you to have any issues fixed free of charge within a specified period of time. All warranties must be provided as a written and signed documentation.
One of the easiest differences to spot between a trustworthy trader and a cowboy builder is their ability to handle problems. While a reliable, experienced trader will be more than happy to visit your home for repairs, a cowboy builder will refuse to resolve issues. They will ignore calls, claim the damage is not their responsibility or become non-traceable. If your potential construction company does not offer warranties on their work, then we would recommend looking elsewhere.
Clear Communication Throughout
Nothing is more suspicious than a builder who continuously claims that they will be charging unexpected fees for “extra materials”, “working overtime” or “fixing problems”. Especially those that have gone ahead and carried out additional work without your consent.
While unexpected problems can creep up, these should never be resolved without informing you first and confirming that you are happy to pay a little extra. During all projects, a contingency budget is always recommended, which relates to a percentage of money that is set aside for any unexpected costs. A few issues here and there should not be a cause for worry; this is what the contingency budget is there for. However, alarm bells should ring if the builder keeps coming to you with unrelated problems that seem irrelevant to the project in question.
A reputable construction company will keep you in the loop at every stage of the process; daily updates are fundamental. They will make you aware of any potential problems and provide you with a realistic solution before going ahead. Through this, you can maintain full control over all work on your home, ensuring that you are thrilled with your results.
Industry Leading Accreditations
A builder or construction company that has been listed on accreditation or trade association sites tend to be reliable and true to their word. Those who are listed would have had to be thoroughly vetted and tested on their skills, knowledge and level of customer service before being approved. They are then awarded a certification, which is often available to view on their website.
Establishments such as the Federation Of Master Builders (FMB), Which? Trusted Traders and Local Authority Building Control (LABC) are all key regulatory bodies for those in the construction industry. In order to qualify, a professional surveyor will visit the company to confirm that they are capable of providing work that fits with strict criteria, as well as excellent customer service. It is for this reason that you should always keep an eye out for company accreditations and if you cannot find any, ask during your initial discussion or home visit.
Positive Online Presence
According to Statista, as of July 2020, there are now almost 4.57 billion internet users across the globe. With this in mind, it has become more important than ever for businesses to build an online presence in order to continue to gain work. With this in mind, if a trader is untraceable on the web, it is a good indication that they may not be who they claim to be.
Although it is more than likely that you have found your shortlisted companies by searching the internet, don’t let the research stop there. Spend time taking a look at their online presence. Do they have a website? Do they have online reviews? Do they have social media channels? Do they provide photos of completed projects?
Steer Clear From Cowboy Builders
Nowadays, we use the internet for just about everything, which has made it easier than ever to drill down a full profile of construction companies before contacting them for a quote. Anything from the evidence of their work to how customers perceive them can be found in just a few clicks.
Once you have begun contacting builders, ask for references and a portfolio including previous projects. Those who are happy to provide all of the resources that you ask for and do not hesitate to answer questions are likely to be reliable, trustworthy and ideal for carrying out work on your home!
If you are still on the search for reputable builders in Towcester and the surrounding local areas, whether this may be to revamp your garden or makeover your rooms, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team. With years of experience in the industry and a dedication to exceptional results, clients have peace of mind that each member of our team possesses all of the qualities mentioned above.