So how do you find the right contractor for you?
I would start by asking friends and relatives to see if they have had any building work done recently. See if they are happy to recommend the builders they used. Don’t just trust their word though, ask to see examples of the work their builder has done. You may find that what a friend or relative thinks is good workmanship may not be up to the same standard as your expectations. You do not have to tell your friend or relative that you think the job has been carried out to an unsatisfactory standard, they may be really happy with the work that has been produced. Just be polite and take the builders number and don’t call them, this will prevent any unnecessary arguments and friction. You must inspect any work being recommended by someone as we all have different standards. If the work looks fine, question the person making the recommendation to see if the builder was easy to get on with, did he turn up for work on time, did the job run to schedule, was there any problems or incidents that they were not happy about. You must still check the contractor out for yourself, do not just go with the recommendation blindly.
What do you do if you do not know anyone who can recommend a good builder? What if you have just moved to a new area
There are a number of options. There are the old traditional methods of looking in the phone book or business directory. Most local newspapers have an advertisement section where you will normally find trade’s people advertising. Your local hardware store or builders merchants will normally have a board for trade’s people to leave a contact card, you might find that the local café also has a similar board. With the Internet, there are loads of sites offering different services to find good tradespeople. Again you should not just trust the recommendations of people on these sites, we all have different standards. You will also come across websites for actual building companies on the Internet. Again you have to check toughly that the building company is a quality company.
Using these methods you should be able to source a number of construction companies.
So how do you find out if these tradespeople are any good?
First, you should try to find at least three companies that you think you can work with. Call and ask them to come round and give you a quote or estimate. Most building companies will come and do this for free, I personally would not pay to have an estimate done. Most of the small building companies will only have a maximum of 4 employees so there will be a good chance that the owner of the company will come and give you the quote. This is a good chance to talk to them and find out about them and the way they work. Ask a question like how long do they think the job will take, how soon can they start, and how many people will they have on site.
Once you have all the quotes you can compare them against each other, any that are much more expensive or much cheaper than the others, you can normally disregard these. Why disregard the quote that is much cheaper? You will find that unless this company has found a new way of doing things that will save money, they will have to cut costs in other ways. This will normally be by using substandard materials, cutting corners in the construction, or by employing people who are not properly qualified to do the job. For quotes that are similar, you will have to decide which construction company is best for you. It is important to trust your feelings, you will have to work with this company over a number of weeks, and large projects can take months. You have to trust that the builder you have chosen will listen and understand what you want to achieve from the project. You should also take into account when they can start and how long they estimate the job will take to complete. If you really like a building company that has quoted a price much higher then the others, call them and ask if they can move on the price. You can show them the other quotes you have received, you may find that this company has quoted for something that the other companies have missed out.
In all cases, you must ask to see previous projects they have been involved with. Try to get three or four projects that you can go and see. Don’t worry if you feel uncomfortable about going around some else’s house and looking at the work. You just have to call them and ask questions about the building company, try to call at least two people.