When beginning any construction or home improvement project, finding the right builder for your needs is essential to the success of the project. If you're looking for an extension, loft conversion or renovation there are plenty of good contractors in London and Hertfordshire to choose from but spending the right amount of time in pre-construction stage to find the best builder can save time and money in the long term. Here are some of our suggestions for how to select a building contractor.
Does the building contractor have relevant experience in Hertfordshire or your local area?
Are they a local builder?
Look for a company which has a proven track record in your geographical area. A good builder will have established relationships with a local supply chain which support their projects. In our experience travelling too far and needing to rely on new contacts and suppliers is a big mistake for a general building contractor. In our earlier days we make this same mistake. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of your local network.
Don’t ignore red flags
When you meet a builder before they tender for the project take the time to ask them lots of questions. You might be meeting the estimator so they won’t have all the answers to technical questions but they should know exactly what they are allowing for in the price and the exact method and materials they will be quoting for. Pay attention to presentation and manners because the representative will likely be an example of the rest of the company. If you have concerns at this stage pay attention. If they company has shown work they’ve done on their website, ask specific questions about those projects. It is also important to look at their accreditations. Are they members of FMB, Considerate constructors, Construction line or even ISO ? Have they been recognised by local industry awards such as LABC or Herts Business Awards?
Trust your instincts – if you have concerns at this stage it’s better to keep looking than to take a risk.
Stay away from the lowest bids
No one wants to pay more than they have to for a product or service, so it’s tempting to shop around for offers and go with the lowest price. In our experience this always ends badly. On many occastions over the years we’ve been called back to repair home improvements that have gone wrong after the home owner opted for the cheapest price only to find out exactly which corners have been cut too late. You may find that the lowest bid is missing important elements or that PC sums have been underestimated with the intention of adding it back after the project starts. This is something to pay close attention to. If you see PC sums, it means your architect needs to provide more detail in their tender pack or specification. If you have to pay them extra to do this then you should do it, it will save you money on the whole project rather than being a cost. – To know if you’re getting a good deal you need to know exactly what’s included in the price. The more detail a builder gives in their quote the more confidence you should have in them.
Are you looking for a good building contractor in Hertfordshire or North London? Call us today so we can explain to you how we can meet and exceed all of your needs.
David Sandford – Managing Director, Letchmore Construction