Photo Courtesy: University of Salford
Our properties are our biggest assets. Whilst we all like to make the most of our property – whether for a more comfortable home or to realize larger profits – it pays to choose building contractors carefully. Follow our simple tips to ensure you find the best in your area and don’t fall victim to rogue traders.
With television programs such as Rogue Traders, Watchdog and Cowboy Builders regularly showing us how easy it is to fall prey to unscrupulous builders and workmen, its no wonder that choosing contractors for your own project can be a daunting task. Taking time to carry out research of your own really is worth the effort.
For reliable, skilled contractors, word of mouth can be the only advertising required to ensure the work keeps coming. Ask friends and colleagues if they, or anyone they know has had similar work carried out recently, and gather all the feedback you can about the contractors they used.
Keep your eyes peeled! If you are planning a project such as roof repairs, carrying out a loft conversion or building an extension, these are all visible undertakings. If you see similar work being carried out locally, then knock on the door and simply ask the householder how its going; if they have found a gem of a builder they will be keen to sing his praises.
Use the Internet
The Internet can be thought of as a 21st Century form of word of mouth. Websites such as Checkatrade.com rely on customer feedback to maintain their grading of trades people, which is regularly spot checked for legitimacy. All potential members are strictly vetted, being required to provide both trade and customer references as well as proof of qualifications and identity prior to registration. All trades are included here from landscapers to decorators. Watch their small video below:
Trade Associations & Memberships
Trade Associations such as the Federation of Master Builders are a fantastic resource for both consumers and building firms. All Members are required to comply with a strict Code of Practice designed to “helps business to demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of customer service and workmanship in the building industry.” The website includes a ‘Find a Builder’ section where the consumer can search for members locally.
Do remember to think about the project as a whole. If you are building a loft conversion or an extension, then the likelihood is that the same company will be carrying out both gas and electrical work on your home. The contractor may be a member of the FMB, but are they also NICEIC registered (for electricians) and on the Gas Safe Register (formerly Corgi Registered)?
Making the Comparisons
So, based on reputation and industry memberships, you have found a selection of potential contractors to quote for you. Make sure you establish who is supplying the materials (enabling you to compare costs realistically), and proposed timescales. Ask to see a portfolio of past work, and for contact details of past customers – some contractors will even encourage you to go and view their previous work. Check what guarantees are on offer, and what their policy is if you aren’t 100% satisfied. If anything you hear causes doubt in your mind, then stay away; instincts are always best listened to!
And finally, you need to be able to build a successful relationship with your contractor in terms of both trust and communication. Are they right for you?!
Peter Kline works at Abbey Loft Conversions of Croydon and is both an expert in property development and an advocate of trade regulating bodies, who help to ensure customers get the results they pay for and expect.