Preparing to engage with a builder

‘Builder’ is a very broad label for almost any tradesperson, you will need to be specific about what or who you are searching for.

  • A coordinated team with complementing skills – or individual tradesmen for specific tasks?
  • A complete start to finish service – or a specific phase such as superstructure ‘shell’ only?

The builder you decide to sign up with will be responsible for all the labour, materials, plant & deliveries you have contracted them to provide.
Conversely you will be responsible for maintaining reasonable access to area of works and making payments on time as agreed.

Establish a realistic budget

Before you start searching for a builder, think carefully about your budget.

  • Do some research on typical costs for your project. See our article on costings if you need some guidelines.

  • What are you prepared to spend to achieve your objectives

  • What value do you expect the build to add to your property

  • What contingency do you want to reserve for unforeseen circumstances

It’s also worth thinking about arranging somewhere to stay during the build. This won’t be necessary throughout the process, but at some points you may be without cooking and laundry facilities, or it may too noisy, dirty or cold for you to be comfortable.

Asking for quotes

To make sure you get an accurate quote from your builder, provide them with as much detail as possible about your project. To be confident that the quotes reflect the price you will end up paying, your tender documents should include:

  • A concise brief that lays out the details of what you do and do not want
  • Plans or drawings suitable for Building Control purposes if needed
  • A full specification of the requirements of the project
  • A list of who will be expected to do what i.e. will you be project managing, hiring trades and ordering materials? Or do you want the builder to do this on your behalf?
  • Details of planning permission requirements and/or restrictions
  • Anticipated timescales – including any planned holidays or commitments
  • Any site access issues you know about
  • Tricky site conditions if known

Have your architect drawings and structural calcs available. They will usually be provided in pdf form so you can easily distribute by email.