How to organise your project

1. Planning

You should consider the type of building work you require as well as the quality of the design and finishes you would like. Some people find it helpful to set up a Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration. Once you finalise your ideas we would recommend that you contact your builder as they can help guide you regarding costings before you submit your plans to Building Control via your local council. This will help you gain a better understanding of the full costs for your project, as opposed to paying for architectural drawings to be made that you may not be able to afford. It is also helpful to look at your local council's planning portal for any questions regarding permissions for loft conversions and single/double storey extensions. In many cases planning permission applications do require a fee.

It would be best practice to select a few builders (at least 3) to provide an estimate for your project, and find someone you can rely on and trust to help you invest in your home. Once you are happy with your chosen builder you could then speak to an architect to help bring your vision to life on paper.

2. Site Visit

We will schedule a site visit to your property to discuss your final ideas and help advise you on any further questions you may have. We will also highlight what you should consider when building your project.

3. Quotation

Once a site visit has been made we will provide you with a detailed estimate, listing everything that will be undertaken on your bespoke project. This can include a payment schedule and a warranty certified by the Federation of Master Builders. You should always check your quotes from your selected builders thoroughly to ensure there are no hidden costs or vast differences between them. Don't automatically choose the cheapest quote, make sure that you carry out your checks before agreeing to them carrying out the work. You can read our tips on 'how to choose the right builder.'

4. Building work

After you have selected your chosen builder and feel comfortable with their areas of expertise, you will be able to schedule your project into their diary and they can provide a timescale as to how long your project will take from start to completion. It is often a good sign of a reputable builder that they are booked up for a few weeks to several months in advance. You should plan ahead and ask your chosen builder when they are able to start on your build.

How to choose the right builder

5. What should I find in an estimate?

Estimates should be thorough and will outline what work is to be carried out, start and completion dates, waste disposal, safety measures put in place, payment plans and a final cost of the labour and materials. Ask if the quote includes VAT and if there are any costs which haven't been included. These should always be in a written format and not verbal. Avoid paying for the entire project upfront. On occasions deposits may be required for specialist materials or if it is a large scale project, but it is safer to pay based on a payment plan, with the final payment made after the work is completed. Deposits can vary, however a reasonable deposit would be between 10-25% of the final cost, if you are asked for any more it might be wise to walk away. Ask if the builder has insurance. A reputable builder will have cover that protects you and the public in the event of an accident or injury, as well as to protect themselves against property damage.

1. Find a local Builder

It can be hugely benficial if you find a builder who works locally to where you live. They will have knowledge of local builder's merchants, local planning officers and other trades who can assist with your project if and when required.

2. Recommendations

Whether you are renovating, extending or installing a new kitchen or bathroom, you will need to rely on a trusted team of tradesmen who understand your vision and have the skills and knowledge to build it. You are often going to be investing a lot of money and time into your project and you will want to find a builder who is accredited with the right experience and insurances for the work you need doing. Using a recommended builder from a source you trust is a great place to begin your search. Local recommendations from friends, family, neighbours and architects is often helpful, as they will have first-hand experience of the builder's quality of workmanship, costs and reliability. You could also try websites such as the Federation of Master Builders or Check-a-Trade to source contact details of local builders who have been certified by these trusted websites for the building trade. To be on the FMB website all members are vetted and independently checked, to ensure that they have all of the correct insurances in place and that high standards are maintained.

3. Always view previous work

It is imperative that your builder has good references. A sign of a reliable builder is that they will suggest for you to look at some of their previous work and can share testimonials from previous customers. This will be a good indicator for you to see the quality of their craftmanship as well as their conduct, so it is certainly worthwhile taking the time to do so. A sign of a good builder is often that they are booked up for a few weeks/months in advance and cannot always start right away.

4. How many quotes should I get?

It is suggested that you should get a minimum of three quotes from builders that you have finalised from your searches or recommendations. You will be able to liaise with different builders and ask them for their opinions on your ideas and potentially alternative solutions you may not have considered previously. It will also be a good opportunity for you to gauge if you can have a good working relationship with them. Don't always accept the first quote from a builder, as quotes can vary in some cases and it is best practice to check what is included in each quote so that you can make like-for-like comparisons. Quotes can often seem too good to be true, and in some cases they could be. It is always advised that you do your research and resist the temptation of a low price. If one contractor provides you with a quote significantly lower than the other estimates, it may be worth investigating as to why this is the case. Alternatively some quotes could be higher due to the quality of materials being installed. Further down the line this could lead to disputes that are often difficult to settle. Sometimes builders will realise that the job is no longer profitable for them and then proceed to pack up tools and leave your project incomplete. Disputes can sometimes occur throughout a project, therefore it is advisable before your project commences to have a contract in place including staged payments. This will help protect both the client and builder from any diagreements that may arise.