Questions you need to ask your builder

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When it comes to your home, it’s important to be careful and ask all the right questions, especially when it comes to a large project which will ultimately cost you a fair bit of money. Whether you’re interested in a loft conversion or even an extension, it’s important to make sure you ask all the right questions to avoid any disputes at a later time.

Can you show me a portfolio of previous work?

In this industry it doesn’t pay to simply be trusting of a builder’s credentials. Instead, you want the evidence that they’re an excellent tradesman and know exactly what they’re doing. You want to know this builder has experience and expertise in the job, so simply ask for referrals or a portfolio.

Perhaps they haven’t completed a job that’s like-for-like, but they should still be able to show you examples of their quality work where the skills are transferable. If the builder has no relevant experience then they’re not going to be right for your project. You’ll only be asking for problems.

Any professional worth their weight in salt will be more than happy to provide the necessary examples and may even offer the names and phone numbers of previous customers. Getting up to three references is well worthwhile as you can at least be sure of their workmanship.

When can you start the job?

Be wary of builders or tradesmen that are available right now to complete your project. It’s not uncommon for builders to be booked up for months, which whilst can be a hassle because of the delay, ensures they’re trusted and competent.

Why would your builder be able to start tomorrow? Why doesn’t he have a schedule of work to complete? These are nagging questions that you need to think about.

How much deposit do you require?

It’s not uncommon for builders to ask for a certain amount of deposit in advance of work commencing. Whilst this is normal, be wary of paying too large a deposit and never pay the whole whack up front.

The deposit amount should be included in any contract that is drawn up and signed by both parties. There could also be a schedule for how and when the rest of the money is to be paid. This tends to be at regular intervals throughout the project. Remember to keep all receipts of any transactions.

The deposit amount does vary, but make sure you don’t pay any more than 30% in advance.

Can we agree on and sign a contract?

There should always be a contract in place and for the average builder this won’t be a problem at all. The contract outlines the full extent of the work required and includes the quote and when payments are due. It’s your go to area if there are any problems later down the line.

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Tom Crosswell

I have been managing online projects since 1999 and I'm a experienced marketeer, who is well versed in international brand management, online business strategy and developing long term relationships. Through my academic and professional background I am a specialist in generating online loyalty towards brands. My experience has taught me that ultimately business is about relationships and people. For more information see my Google+ page.