For homeowners who are considering building work or home improvements, their key question is often, “how will I find a reliable builder/tradesperson?”

And who can blame them? The media bombards us with horror stories about ‘cowboy’ builders leaving projects half finished and budgets spiralling out of control – there are even tv shows dedicated to exposing these rogue tradesmen, so it’s a wonder anyone ever wants to build anything!

This is a real problem, not only for consumers, but also the many reputable building companies. Last year, Citizens Advice received 45,000 calls from people seeking help when home improvement or maintenance projects they’d started had gone awry.

And the Federation of Master Builders estimates cowboy builders and contractors cost the UK economy £10 billion each year because home owners are so fearful of hiring a company or trades person that doesn’t complete the job or does it to a sub par standard (source: https://www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/newsroom/consumer-fears-over-cowboy-builders-costs-uk-economy-10bn/)

It not all bad news though… the vast majority of builders and trades people are capable and professional and homeowners can do a great deal to avoid bad situations through the way they choose, manage and communicate with them.

Here are our tips on choosing a building company that you can work with confidently and successfully…

New Build House - Traditional Style

Don’t be too quick to approach a builder

Often, homeowners think it makes sense to start their search for the right builder by approaching different companies to give quotes, then to compare them with each other. But by doing so, you’re inviting each company to simply tell you what they think you want to hear based on your requirements … They do want to get the work after all. And the prices you are given at this point, could be miles off the eventual cost if you only have a vague idea of what your require.

Our advice would be to only approach builders once you have a very clear idea of what is required – make a detailed list of exactly what you want to accomplish and don’t be afraid to include some sketchs. Also, have a list of questions or concerns ready to ask any prospective builder. The more information you can give them and the more questions you ask, the more accurate their quote will be and you’ll get a real feel for whether they’ll be a good fit for working with you.

Drawing Up Architectural Building Plans

Choose appropriately

You need to find the right type of building company for your project. For example, a large scale construction firm who specialise in building luxury, high rise apartement blocks might have a great reputation and hundreds of reviews, but their prices are likely to be out of most peoples budgets and hiring them for a garage conversion or kitchen extension may be overkill.

There are also plenty of owner/manager builders out there who do a lot of the building work themselves with just a few staff to labour etc. These types of businesses will have much lower overheads so are likely to be much cheaper, but their level of organisation and customer service may not be best.

You should aim for a good balance between low price, high quality work and good organisation so do your homework to find out what different companies specialise in, check their reviews and compare their prices.

Check for recent, relevant reviews

When checking reviews, look for clues about whether they are relevant to your proposed building project.  For example, some bigger building companies may have lots positivie reviews for commercial building projects.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the best company to build a kitchen extension for you.

Furthermore, (and this probably goes without saying but…) make sure positive reviews are recent… A company that has 5 star reviews from 5 years ago may have been a safe bet back then, but companies constantly change, good staff may leave and their once high standards may not be what they were.

Look for reviews within the last year as they’ll best reflect the company’s current reputation.

Completed Kitchen Extension and Renovation

One point of contact

It’s often cheaper to directly engage seperate tradesmen, such as joiners, electricians, plasterers etc.

That said, it can also be expensive in terms of the time spent managing several different contractors yourself. (not to mention stressful and frought with potential problems along the way)

While this approach can work for some people, we’d strongly recommend using one main building contractor and making sure you have a dedicated project manager who will take responsibility for the entire project.

Construction Project Manager

Let the project manager manage

Once you’ve chosen a building company and have a project manager in place, it’s important they are allowed to run the project on a day to day basis. If not, in the event that something does go wrong the lines of responsibility may become blurred.

By all means, keep an eye on progress and quality but avoid micro managing the various staff on site. If you have concerns about any one element of the work, tell them to the project manager so he/she is ultimately responisble for fixing problems.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for building company that takes pride in doing things ethically, responsibly and at an affordable price, then it’s clear you’ll need to do some research to avoid potential problems.

Follow our top tips, read builders’ recent reviews and get a few quotes so you can start to get a feel for which builder will be the best fit for your project.

If your construction project will be in Merseyside or anywhere in the Northwest and you are looking for local builders Liverpool based Ethical Projects Limited would love to provide a no obligation quote for you so please do get in touch.

We will supply you with a full breakdown of materials and labour, issue you with a programme of works and notify HSE of the project. All of our work is carried out in line with recognised building regulations and Health and Safety law and is covered by public liability, employee liability and contract works insurance.

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Don’t be too quick to approach a builder

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Choose appropriately for your building project

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Check for recent, relevant reviews

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Use a company that provide point of contact

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Let the project manager manage

Unique Liverpool Building Company Ethical Projects