How to choose a builder to work with

It’s vital that you feel able to trust the person or team that you will work with. The project should feel like a partnership – with a shared goal of achieving your vision. Requesting a quote is the first step in building that relationship – but first you need to find some candidates.

You can try the following:

  • Ask friends for recommendations – if you know someone who has had work done and is happy with the result, ask them about the team they worked with
  • Look around the local area – if you have noticed some work being done inn your neighbourhood, why not give them a knock and ask about their experience?

  • Ask other trades – if you’ve had some minor work done and were happy with result, ask the tradesman if he has any recommendations

  • Look at the Federation of Master Builders website – FMB members must pass a rigorous vetting and independent inspection process to join,, and they have a free ‘Find a Builder‘ directory, ensuring you can a find local trustworthy firm

Once you have selected some candidate builders – you can contact them and request a quotation for the work, supplying them with all the information you’ve gathered so that they can give you an accurate estimate.

If they will be managing your project, you may also want to ask:

  • Will they provide you with a project plan and a target completion date?
  • How will they keep you informed of changes or delays to the schedule?
  • How can you both keep track of budget, money paid, agreed variations?
  • With whom will you be able to discuss ideas and general queries?
  • Will there be regular site meetings?

How do I decide whether they are right for me?

Once you receive a response, you need to weigh up if they will meet your needs. Your decision should not be based on price alone – ask yourself:

  • Did they answer the phone? If you left a message / email, did they respond in a reasonable time?
  • What questions did they ask  to understand what stage you’re at, and what the next steps are?
  • When they came to visit, did they show interest in you, and put forward ideas of their own?

Examining the estimate

Their estimate should include a detailed description of what is included in the quoted price, and what is not. Are they VAT registered and is the tax amount clearly shown on the price summary?

What form of contract do they use? Signing a contract legally binds you to the agreement – so it must detail scope of works, payment terms etc. You need accurate costings that will be adhered to, so that you can allocate and manage your budget. Ask questions and they should be pleased to clarify.

And don’t forget to ask about their insurance cover. Public liability cover of £2 to 5 million is the minimum which covers personal injury claims by you or members of the public. A value of more than you contract is preferable, as it covers the cost of any goods and materials and works in progress if they happen to be affected by fire or flood (for example) before they are handed over to you.

Check their work

Before signing with your preferred builder, it is certainly worth following up a reference or two. Often people shy away from this stage but your builder should be able to arrange to take you to a work in progress or recent job and introduce you to their client.

As well as seeing the standard of work, you should be allowed time to speak freely with the owner about any aspect of the service they received, how they handled problems, were they easily contactable, how did they respond to change requests.