Working With Your House Builder
If you are planning home improvements, in addition to a builder to do the actual physical work, you may, depending on the scope of your plans, also need the services of a surveyor, an architect or even a dedicated project manager to work on your behalf.
Price should not be the only consideration when choosing a builder. You also need to be confident that your property project is as important to your builder as it is to you. If you are not impressed with the level of commitment shown by the builder, find another one.
You should also insure that the builder has the appropriate level of insurance cover. Depending on your project, the builders may be around your house for weeks and even months and you need a good relationship with them.
Put everything important and relevant in writing. No matter how well recommended the builder is, and how well you get on with them, a written contract is absolutely essential in resolving the inevitable problems. The contract should include details of how payment will be made, either in stages or as a once off payment on successful completion of the project. Do all you can to avoid having to make changes mid way through a project, as this can dramatically slow the work and increase the cost.
In an ideal world, the contract should cover every aspect of the project and there should be no need to amend or even discuss further the details of the project. In reality however, it is inevitable that problems will arise and you should be prepared to deal with this effectively.
Keep a written account of the progress of the project. This will help in checking that the stages of the work are completed on time.
Make sure you make the most of the builder's time. Take your belongings out of the part of your property that is being worked on before the builders arrive and don't hinder their work by staying at the project site longer than you need to. Let them get on with it, but return daily, when they are gone for the night and take a careful note of the progress they have made.
If you do have to raise an issue, contact the most senior person overseeing the project, either your project manager or the site foreman and discuss the issues in a calm, straightforward manner. Write down or draw out your understanding of what was agreed and use this as a basis for discussion. If it is a small problem, it can probably be sorted out immediately, but larger issues may need some preparatory work before you meet the builder. Be as patient as possible if the builder disagrees with you, since they have probably have more experience of what is possible and what is not.
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