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Choosing the right builder is essential when planning a major project. After all, the workmen will be not only be responsible for doing a quality job but they will also be spending up to eight weeks in your home.
A specialist building company will be the choice of many homeowners but there also many other builders who will undertake conversions and all kinds of other home extensions.
When choosing a builder don’t rely on glossy adverts in the Yellow Pages or local newspaper.
The best advertising any builder can have is word of mouth. Ask your friends or any neighbours who have had a loft conversion built how their builder performed.
And, ask any building firm you approach to provide references from recent clients. It is always best to obtain multiple quotes from builders but do remember that the cheapest quote isn’t necessarily the best.
Don’t let your decision be swayed by the possibility of saving a few pounds – employing a builder because he is cheap could end up costing you plenty in the long run.
When considering quotes from builders ensure they are a fixed price. In other words, no additional costs can, or will, be added on and that the quote covers everything you wish doing.
A reputable loft conversion company will lay out in detail what your quotation covers and, depending on your preferences, this may include drawing up plans, submitting them to the local authority as well as building the conversion.
Ask your builder how he will approach your work. A reputable loft conversion company or builder will work from scaffolding during the first half of the job. This is to keep disruption to the household to a minimum and to keep dust and debris to an absolute minimum.
Be very weary of any builder who says scaffolding is not required as this means they will need to take all equipment and materials through the house causing mess and inconvenience.
One of the most important things to settle before any work is done is exactly how and when you will pay the builder and what is involved in the costs quoted.
An initial payment against materials is fine but under no circumstances pay in full, or for labour, before the work is completed or even started.
The usual agreement is to agree to pay in staggered installments as the various stages of work are finished.
Make sure that your builder is fully insured against public liability. If they have no insurance you could be liable if any accidents occur during the build. A loft conversion company will sometimes state the amount of their public liability cover in their advertising literature.
As an additional safeguard ask if there is any warranty which covers your loft conversion as many builders will insure their work with a 10 year bond from the Federation of Master Builders.
Minimise The Risk
Of course you need to exercise very careful judgement when choosing a builder as we have all seen those television programmes that tell of the havoc caused by so called cowboy builders.
We’ve all seen unbelievable images of homes in ruins after an unwary householder paid a fortune to a builder who was not qualified to do the work and who vanished as soon as he was paid.
Usually we shake our heads and ask ourselves how anyone could be so gullible as to pay out loads of cash to someone who leaves their home in ruins.
But be warned.
Unless we take a few basic precautions when contracting a builder to work on our home it could well happen to us.
If you are looking for a builder to do work on your home, whether it be simple re-pointing, building loft conversions or a full scale renovation there is one step to take that is more important than anything else.
Ask for references and testimonials!
Now that is an obvious step to take. But it is amazing how many people employ builders on major projects without checking them out first with their previous customers.
Don’t think just because a builder arrives in a smart van holding a hammer that he actually knows what he is doing.
Ask for references and follow them up. Speak to previous customers and ask them if you can go and see the work done. Most people who provide references for building companies are only too happy to show off the good work.
Needless to say if a loft conversion company can’t provide testimonials than regardless of how impressive their sales talk is, how smart their van is or how impressive their website, don’t be tempted to employ them and this is especially true when trying to find reliable loft conversions builders.
All good, reputable builders will be only too happy to supply references if asked.
Please don’t be worried about causing offence by asking the builders to prove how good they are.
After all, if a builder can’t or won’t supply references, then you can be pretty sure that he isn’t going to be up to the job of converting your loft.
For more info see the related pages below
Structural calculations for loft conversions are of course hugely important to ensure safety and that the proposed plans meet building regulations
What is the difference between planning permission and building regulations approval for loft conversions ?
Using And Fitting Loose Fill Insulation In Your Loft