27 Apr 2022 - Self Build

Planning permission granted: how to find a reliable builder

With planning permission approval, your self build project can finally see your attention turned towards finding the right builder to help you bring your drawings to life. The build of your dream home can begin. But finding the right builder, one with whom you’re completely comfortable and can demonstrate experience in your particular type of build, is no small task. 

Your self-build property is likely to be the biggest investment of your lifetime – finding the right builder isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Here, we outline exactly what you should consider as you do your homework to find your expert construction team. 

Where to start in finding your dream team?

If you’re wondering how to find a home builder in your area, it can be quite daunting. Word of mouth and recommendations are always a great place to start – particularly if the praise comes from other trades working on your home or even your architect. Builder recommendations from people you trust – all the better if you can see for yourself the work they’ve done – provide real peace of mind. If you haven’t got any personal recommendations, try looking at trade association memberships. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the National Federation of Builders (NFB) provide a free online tool to help you find vetted and trusted builders in your area.

How to check a builder’s credentials

Thoroughly research the credentials of any builder you’re seriously considering. If they belong to the FMB or NFB, you can rest assured they work to membership standards and have been strictly vetted. However, you should always ask to see other projects completed by them to get a feel for their quality of work – and speaking with previous clients will give you even further insight. 

It's also wise to find out if the builder holds any certifications. While there aren’t any formal builders’ qualifications to speak of, there are accreditations like the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, which vouch for the fact they’re appropriately trained and have the skills required to do the job.

What to ask a builder when getting a quote

Once you’ve created your shortlist of builders, it’s usually advised to get quotes from at least three builders so you have a point of comparison and can make a better-informed decision according to your budget. And of course, it goes without saying, that your final checks should make sure your shortlisted builders have the correct insurance in place.

For these early conversations, each builder will need to be informed of all the finer details of your project to give you as accurate a quote as possible. Along with your detailed brief and drawings, you’ll likely need to let the builder know details including planning permission requirements, any site issues, timescales to be aware of etc. The more information you can give to the builder, the more likely the quote will reflect the end costs and not go over budget. Plus, bear in mind some builders may charge for their time in pulling together the quote. Once you’ve received the quotes, really take the time to consider them. It’s important you know how to compare builders’ quotes, as you shouldn’t take cost alone into consideration. Take a good look at absolutely everything detailed – timescales, upfront costs, site requirements etc. 

Hiring your chosen builder

Discuss all the terms of payment upfront – self build projects often see payments split into stages. These agreed terms will then form part of your written contract, which you should take away and scrutinise. If you’re questioning ‘do I need a contract with my builder?’, the answer is a resounding yes. A written contract ensures the project has been fully understood and outlines everything that has been agreed. It’s peace of mind for all parties. Put simply, entering into a written contract with your builder is crucial. 

Do builders require a deposit? It can vary. Some builders ask for a deposit to cover any materials they need to order or fees that need to be paid. It’s usually around 10% if a deposit is required.

While there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right builder for your self- build project, time spent researching is time well spent. You need to have the utmost confidence in your chosen builder and be completely comfortable with them – they’re going to be in your life for a while, after all. 

All checks in place, contracts signed, tea brewed… it’s on with the build! Take a look at ourseven tips for a successful self-build project

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