Advice on hiring a builder

Hire the right builder for you

Before you make the decision about who to hire, make sure that you are completely happy with your choice of tradesman. Try to choose a builder that you'll be comfortable communicating with throughout your project.

Always work through MyBuilder

Click the Hire button when you've found a tradesman and don't forget to leave feedback once your job is finished.

Honest and reputable builders want your feedback to build their reputation. Tradesmen who ask people to work outside the site know that they can’t be held accountable for their work.

Check the builder's feedback and references

  • Make sure that feedback is relevant for the work you plan to carry out.
  • New tradesmen may not have feedback. This doesn't mean they are less capable but you should carry out additional checks. New tradesmen are encouraged to submit previous client references, which we verify.
  • For larger jobs, ask to view previously completed work and if possible speak with that customer about workmanship and general conduct.

Always get a quote before you hire

  • Obtain a minimum of three quotes and make sure that quotes are based on the same specification.
  • Try to obtain fixed quotes rather than estimates, which are a rough price that is subject to change.
  • Insist on a revised quote for any additional work – before that work is carried out.
  • Beware of very low quotes. Tradesmen who provide these may not understand how much work is required and could try to claw money back later.
  • Make sure the quote clearly shows the tradesman's name, full address and land line telephone number.
  • Ask if the work is guaranteed and if guarantees are insurance-backed in case the builder goes out of business.
  • Agree on start/completion dates and payment arrangements before work starts.

Discuss money upfront

Try to avoid paying deposits and never pay the whole amount up front. Always insist on a signed receipt for every payment you make.

Check if the contract allows for stage payments and retention:

  • Stage payments allow for money to be paid as work is completed.
  • Retention allows you to hold back a percentage of the final invoice until after the job has been completed to your satisfaction.

Think carefully before you agree to pay cash in hand. A written invoice proves a relationship and can be useful in the event of a dispute.

Check if your builder is VAT registered and if the quote includes VAT, as this will have an impact on your final invoice.

For large projects or jobs that require you to hand over money up front, a written contract is strongly recommended. If you'd like to get a better understanding of when and how to use a contract, read over MyBuilder's Understanding contracts page.

Consider planning and Building Regulations

  • If your project needs architectural plans it's advisable to have them drawn up first. Without plans, builders are in the dark and may provide a higher quote.
  • Before approaching builders, remember that planning applications usually take at least eight weeks to process.
  • Check if the work you're carrying out requires building regulations approval. Depending on the type of work, you may need to hire a suitably qualified and registered builder.

Check trade association membership

Does the builder belong to a professional body or trade association? Contact those organisations to verify membership and enquire about what assurances they offer to consumers if things go wrong.

Make sure that the builder has public liability insurance

Ask to see the builder’s public liability insurance certificate. Building work may also affect your home and contents insurance so check with your insurance company before work begins.

Check if the builder intends to use sub-contractors

Make sure the builder knows that they're responsible for all team members, including sub-contractors. They should be covered by the builder’s public liability insurance and suitably qualified if tasked with gas or electrical work.