Ready to start building work? Hopefully, you’ve chosen a dream builder. Here’s how you can be a dream customer!
1. Have every detail in writing.
Ideally, you’ll have a contract in place or at least a full written schedule of works. Anything not agreed in advance will be an extra with additional cost, whether that’s an unforeseen problem like needing deeper foundations, a change of mind, or a new idea from you. So go through the drawings with your builder before you start to avoid any misunderstandings.
Be prepared to make quick decisions on things like socket and light fitting design and locations as the job progresses - do your research and source items early to prevent delays. Then put any changes, substitutions, or additional work in writing as a record for you both.
2. Understand that materials prices are fluctuating and there are long delays for some things.
So it is likely you’ll need to think about substitutions but check with your building control surveyor to make sure any alternative material still complies with the Building Regulations. Remember that an estimate is just that – only a quote backed up by a contract is binding.
3. Make sure you are actually ready for work to start and clear workspaces.
There’s nothing more frustrating than clients booking a contractor for a job that’s not ready to work on yet – their diary is as important as yours.
One of the best ways to make tradespeople feel welcome and to ensure they look after your property is to ensure they have a tidy space to work in. Clear away any clutter before they begin to work, and it will help to make their job much easier.
4. Offer them refreshments.
It’s an old cliché that builders are powered by tea but offering a cuppa is one of the top favourites for your contractors. It may seem like the simplest of things to do, but it is easily one of the most welcoming. If you have building work taking place over a lengthy period of time, it's also a good way to break the ice. Make sure your builders have access to a space and facilities for making their own drinks throughout the project.
5. Share your facilities.
It’s estimated that only 66% of homeowners give tradespeople access to the bathroom, while just 60% give them Wi-Fi codes and show them where the nearest plugs are. Unless you have a portable toilet outside, which you would be expected to pay for, one of the best ways to ensure they feel welcomed is by letting them use your facilities. Most builders will clear away as much as possible at the end of each day if you are still occupying the building but don’t underestimate the dust - it gets everywhere!
6. Let them listen to the radio.
Do whatever you can to raise their morale. Repetitive manual work often goes better with some background music – not everyone works best in silence. Don’t let them upset your neighbours with excessive noise though.
7. Let them park close by.
If you have room on your driveway, give your builders the opportunity to park on it (or close by). So many clients think that their contractors should park away from the building but letting them park as close as possible means they have easy access to their tools and equipment as well as somewhere to sit and eat their lunch. It all helps to build your relationship, improves morale, and might even get your job finished more quickly.
8. Create a good professional relationship.
Get to know your contractors. Everyone likes a friendly hello and a bit of a chat. Don’t feel like you need to hide away, although it’s best not to distract them too much as they need to get on with their work. While it can be tempting to leave them to it, try to get to know them a little – they’re much more likely to go above and beyond for you, and you’re probably more likely to hire them again in the future. Ask your builder how they would like you to contact them if you have a question or an emergency. It’s also best only to ring them in the evening or at weekends if it really is critical.
9. Respect their knowledge and experience.
Hopefully, you’ve chosen your builder based on reputation and good reviews. You need to trust them and arrange regular visits from building control to back that trust up. If you have doubts about something they have done, ask them first. It may simply be that that element isn’t finished yet. If you are still concerned, ask your building inspector or architect for a second opinion. Don’t turn to one of the numerous Facebook groups or forums which are notorious for bad advice from armchair experts and keyboard warriors.
10. Pay them on time and leave them good reviews.
Once the work is complete, check it all over carefully with your builder and discuss anything you are not happy with. Give them an opportunity to go through your snagging list and tell you how and when everything will be resolved. Ask them for copies of any certificates from subcontractors like plumbers and electricians, and make sure you have a copy of the Completion Certificate if your work required Building Regulations approval.
Pay them the agreed amount on time – they’ve paid out wage and paid for materials – cash flow is always a problem for contractors so please don’t delay your payment unless there is a genuine reason.
Most good builders never advertise – they win work based on their reputation. If you are happy with what they’ve done, ask them where they would like you to leave your positive reviews - this might be on a review site or on their own Facebook page or website.
Hopefully, your project will have been a good experience for you both and you might even work together again in the future!