11 Easy Ways to Find a Good Builder

How to find a good builder..? Such a common question and one filled with horror and desperation.

I completely understand…

Finding a good builder is one of the biggest causes of stress for anyone wanting to complete a project. I still get nervous when I appoint a new builder I haven’t worked with before, and its perfectly natural to have concerns when trying to find a good builder.

“Will they finish on time? What is their quality like? Are they out to screw me?”

Too many questions and too many negative questions.

Here is the bad news:

There is no way to guarantee that any builder you find will be good.

However…

If you use my 11 tips below for finding a builder, then you will be off to the best start possible.

Just before we start with the easy tips, remember what our end goal is with finding builders for your project. At this stage you are trying to get a list of builders together who you think would be suitable for the project. Using the tips below, you will be able to get an excellent list of builders together to move forward with.

Once you have the list, then you need to go to the next step of reducing your shortlist and ultimately appoint someone for the construction of your project.

Lets get started (in no particular order):

 

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1. Friends & Family:

Lets start with the people closet to us, our friends and family.

There are so many examples when people have been recommended a builder through this source, and its a great way to find a builder for your project.

If you do have some friends or family who have recently completed a project or is in the process of completing a project, then get in touch with them.

Ask them everything and anything about their builders, especially how they found them, how they have been to work with and whether everything is going to plan.

The best bit:

Go and see the quality of the builders work. Go round to their house and see the work for yourself. Have they done a good job? Quality of the finish ok?

I’ve found builders this way before and its worked out really well for me. I trust the people closet to me and this one of the best ways you can find a good builder for your project.

2. Work Colleagues:
Similar to the point above, speak to your work colleagues who you know have had work done to their home.

If your work colleagues are like the ones I used to work with, then they would only be to pleased to offer advice about their project.

Go a bit further:

If you are good friends with your colleague, then you can go visit their house, and see what they have had completed.

Of course, exercise a bit of caution. No work colleague would want to admit that they had a bad builder or appointed someone who did a bad job.

Once you have some names of builders, then you must always go on to do more research on them and make sure you find out more about them.

 

3. Architect or Interior Designer

Other than friends and family, this is my favorite way of finding a builder you can trust for your project.

Think about it…

Architects work on project day in and day out. This is their job..! and they have seen hundreds of projects completed throughout the years.

They will have a great resource of builders for the types of projects they get involved with, so ask them for their 3 or 4 best recommended builders for your project.

Another point worth mentioning is that architects can and often take on the role of project manager. This means they are right in the middle of the project and will know all the details to any specific project, and any builder they have used in the past.

This information and experience is priceless.

If you are using an architect for your job, ask them for recommendation. If you are not using an architect or designer, then phone up some local architects for advice.

I’ve found that in most cases, architects are more than happy to spend a bit of time advising a ‘non-client’ on good builders in the area.

 

4. Building Inspector:

This approach is a little different, but one I’ve had success with before.

Every Council will have a team of building inspectors who’s main role is to ensure that all building work carried out in the area is done so to the correct standard. These guys see builders on a daily basis and will know which ones are good, but more importantly, which ones and just pure cowboys.

Not all inspectors may be willing to name and shame, however, a couple of phone calls and you may have a list of builders that you know your local Council will get on with.

5. Trade Associations:
The best known trade association in the UK is the Federation of Master Builders, which has been running for over 75 years.

Their manifesto states the following:

Sounds good, but they do admit that they never check physical work on site, and I’m sure most builders can complete the ‘box ticking’ exercise to get onto their register.

Whilst not guaranteeing a stress free and straight forward project, putting together a list of builders from this source is certainly better than the top 5 results from google..!

 

5. Trade Associations:

The best known trade association in the UK is the Federation of Master Builders, which has been running for over 75 years.

Their manifesto states the following:

When it comes to building quality, you deserve better. That’s why for over 75 years, the not-for-profit Federation of Master Builders has championed continuous improvement in building standards.

The FMB goes beyond simple checks and ratings. Instead, we independently inspect and vet our members to provide credible proof of their quality.

And we go further to provide ongoing training, contracts and warranty protection for the work. So whether you’re a Master Builder or a client dreaming of a masterpiece, you’re assured of a better experience.

Because building better means building trust. So as a member you know your business will be supported and promoted. And as a homeowner you will know you’re working with the right people.

Look for the sign you can trust and make your building experience better.

6. Local Area Walks:

Many of us live in built up areas with lots of neighbours, I certainly do and there is no short of construction work going on in London..!

One great way to find a good builder for your project is to simply walk around your neighbourhood (or drive) and take photos of the marketing boards for every single builder you can find.

I recently did this (more out of interest rather than specifically looking to find a builder) in South West London and I found 14 different building companies within a 10 minute walk of where I started..!

Incredible, right?

So why don’t you do this?

Get a long list of builders together from the local area and go online to research them all. Do they do the kind of project your are interested in and have they got contact details?

Get in touch with them and discuss your requirement.

Take it one step further…

Knock on the door of the place where you found them, and ask to have a walk around or speak with the owners. A bit bold, but it usually always works.

Your local area is a great source for finding your local builder… get out there and find them..!

7. Online Forums:

Here’s one tip which is a long shot, but I’ve heard of it working, and I’ve seen people asking online.

Head over to some online forums related to property, renovations or home improvements and reach out to the online community by asking for recommendations specific to a location.

This may work well if you are new to an area or are really struggling to find recommendations.

Online forums may also be a great way to find out if the builder your are thinking of picking has been poor on other jobs.

Look:

People love to provide negative feedback, and if a builder has been poor, then there is a chance there would be some information about it online.

A long shot… but worth a look…

8. Estate Agent:

Love them or hate them… Estate Agents often get a rough ride.

However, with regards to their local knowledge… it cannot be beaten and this could be a great place to find a good builder.

Many of the local estate agents will know lots of local builders. They sell houses and flats all day long, and lots of these will be homes which need work. Builders approach Estate Agents all the time for them to be recommended.

When I’ve asked Estate Agents in the past, I’ve always had a positive response and recommendation or at least 2 or 3 different builders I should get in touch with.

If you are new to an area or have just purchased a property which needs work… make sure you get a recommendation from your agent.

9. Trustmark:

Another good source for putting together a list of builders is the only Government endorsed ‘find a trades person’ scheme.

The scheme has a searchable database and any builder you find on here will have had to go through various checks, including a financial check, to be on the database.

But wait…

Similar to the Trade Associations above, finding a builder this way will not guarantee the quality of the builder, however, provides a good starting point for building a list of builder to approach.

The same due diligence will need to be completed on the builder before making any appointments.

10. Other Tradesmen

At some point during your home ownership period you would have had some work (small or big) and would have used some trades to complete this, such as a plumber or electrician.

Why not try to find a good builder through them?

They will have worked with hundreds of other trades and builders during their time in the trades, and will have some that they like working with too.

Ask them for some names of builders they have successfully worked with in the past…

May not come to anything but worth a phone call or two…

11. Online Websites

My final tip is another online one.

More and more of us are turning to the internet to find solutions to our problems…

Wait..!

That’s probably how you’ve found your way to Property Like a Pro..!

… and with this comes a number of resources which are available to us.  Most of us know about checkatrade, which is a excellent place for finding trades, but I will give you two more places to find a good builder:

My Builder.com

Rated People.com

All these three website operate on a similar way, and is a great resource to find a good builder.

But be careful, there are less checks in place to get onto their database and there are definitely builders out there on these databases who are not 100% honest.

Now… Can you now find a good builder..?

Yes you can…!

Hopefully the ideas above have given you some inspiration to find a good builder that you can trust for your project. Using the tips above you will have the best possible list of builders to start to interrogate..!

But remember what you goal is when trying to find a good builder… and what I mentioned at the start of this article.

It is simply this…

To put together a list of builder that you want to approach. A short list of 5 to 10 builders at this stage would be perfect.

The next step is then to get quotes and fully vet them all thoroughly before making an appointment…

But wait…!

Here is my final bit of advice…

If there is one thing you take away from this article, it is this… DO NOT simply contact the first 3 builders on your google search. You need to do more than this and a little research now will help your project down the line.

Use the tips in this article and ensure you can find the best builder for your job.

Good luck and let me know below which method worked for you…

Cheers,

Mike (Property Like a Pro)

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