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5 mistakes to avoid when hiring a builder

Imagine this – you’ve been planing your home remodelling project for so long now. Finally you managed to set aside some budget, hired a few contractors, made your first payment to cover materials and initial labour costs and now you are waiting for the project to start. Surely your builders will come on the promised date to begin the work, or will they?

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Read through our list of most common pitfalls and mistakes people make when looking for a builder. With this information you have more chances to see your project complete on time, within the allocated budget, and, what is most important, to your satisfaction.

Mistake #1: Neglecting design and overall planning

We understand how exciting it can be to think about all those little details like how many lights you are going to have in your newly extended kitchen, what kind of curtains, shutters or blinds there will be and on which wall this lovely picture will look best. It’s all extremely pleasant to think about, but hey, first things first! Every project should start with a draft plan showing the big picture. Compose a list of key stages for your project, workout a rough budget for each stage, think about timing. Pull out your calendar and mark the dates when you think you want each stage to compete as well as the end date of your project. Be honest with yourself and realistic as underestimating budget or time may turn into a nasty surprise halfway through the project. Plan for some contingency.

The larger the project, the more thorough the planing should be. For medium and large jobs it is highly recommended to have a complete design layout. Clear drawings and blueprints give the builder something concrete to work with plus your tradesmen won’t be able to blame you later for putting wrong ideas in their heads should something go not according to plan.

Mistake #2: Having no clear goals of the project

Before engaging further, answer this question: What problem is the project going to solve for you? It is vital to keep a clear vision of what the end result should look like and why you need it to be that way. This will allow you to compare the result at the end of each stage to your original goal and will give you a set of criteria for assessment the work carried out by the builder. Moreover, it helps you avoid scope creep. When considering an alteration to the initial plan and adding something extra check if this addition is really necessary to solve your original problem.

Mistake #3: Key features are not thought trough

Remember those question you had about the lights, curtains and a picture on the wall? Now is the right time to think about them. And not only think, but add them to the plan. Identify the features that absolutely must be included in the scope of work for your hired builders, then features that would be highly desirable, then those that are nice to have but can be sacrificed if required, and finally the elements that clearly have nothing to do with the problems your building project is aimed to solve.

Mistake #4: References are not collected or not followed up

It’s now time to start looking for a builder. There are various ways in which you can find a number of decent tradesmen. A recommendation from a friend, those leaflets and brochures that are regularly put through your letterbox, or an online system such as Find a Builder will give you a dozen of candidates. The important aspect is to always ask your tradesmen for at least five references, no matter how you found the candidates. If someone has done an outstanding job for your friend, it does not necessarily mean it will work out for you. At Find a Builder we do our best to pre-screen our members, however it is crucial that the clients collect and follow up references from tradesmen they are considering. It is a good idea to ask for 2-3 recent and also a couple of references from a few years back. This would give you a much better understanding of what to expect from this tradesman. Yes, builders can forge some references and this is why it is important to do your homework and follow up with the previous clients. A happy client might be willing to boast about the completed job and show it to you. Speak to them and look at the previous work when possible.

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