Working with your builder
You should always get more than one builder to quote for the works. This is called going out to tender. Ensure you provide all the builders that are quoting with exactly the same information so you have directly comparable quotes.
Ask for a breakdown of the costs so you can see how much the key areas will cost.
You can then look at where you may be able to amend the specification or scope of work to reduce costs if needed.
Don’t always go for the cheapest price. Like with most things, you normally get what you pay for! The cheaper price may mean they need to cut corners to get things done quicker and cheaper. They also may not have allowed for everything and try to increase the price at a later date.
When you are preparing the drawings and specification to go out to tender, try to provide, as much detailed information as possible. The more information you can provide the more accurate the builder’s quotes will be and there will be limited price variations during the construction due to previous unknowns. For example, the types of fittings and finishes can have a significant impact on the amount of hours labour to fit them and so increase costs.
Sign a contract
A contract benefits both the client and the builder. It refers to drawings and information for what is to be built, for how much and by when. This means everyone involved knows exactly what is expected.
If the builder tries to claim more money for “extras”, you can refer to the contract drawings to clarify if it is an extra or not. It also means the client cannot try and sneak changes in that cost more!
A lot of builders are competent at more than one trade. However, if you have a specialist task, ensure you employ the right person for the job. If not, you could end up with a substandard finish or worse, something possibly unsafe and dangerous.
If you are employing a main contractor to oversee the whole construction works, they should bring in specialist sub-contractors to work on the project in the key areas. If you are project managing, ensure you find the right person for the task and if needed, check they have the correct qualifications, experience and insurance.
Never pay upfront
We are still surprised when we hear people are paying their builders before they have completed the work. Never, ever pay for the work until it is completed and you are happy with it. If you pay them beforehand, they have no incentive to finish the work and you leave yourself at risk of the project dragging on for much longer as the builder is on other jobs. If a builder asks for money upfront, politely decline and find another who won’t.
On larger projects, you can arrange a staged payment with the builder. This normally involves paying for the percentage of works completed at the end of each month. Make sure if the builder is asking for 50% of the money that they have completed 50% of the work. This sometimes can be unclear, ask your architect to confirm that they agree with the amount of work completed in respect to the valuation from the builder.