1. Research Local Builders Online.
First things first, use trusty Google to gather a list of all the local builders in your area. Then you can browse their websites, read their reviews and see pictures of their prior work. You can usually make a good assumption of a company by their website, does it look professional, do they provide helpful information? Are they easy to contact?
2. Ask Friends/ Relatives for References.
It is highly likely that a family, friend, neighbour or friend of a friend has had some building work. Give them a call and ask about their experience, would they recommend their builder, or are they upset with the finished work? This might help to narrow down the list of local builders in your area and is a good way to get an honest opinion. If you don’t know anyone, remember a good building company will have positive online reviews; people are more frequently turning to reviews to express their joy or complain about their frustrations.
3. Prepare a Brief
This is your project, so write down everything you want to gain from your new build or extension. You may need a certain amount of bedrooms and a large utility to accommodate the family pets, or you may simply want a nice view of your garden in an extended kitchen. Whatever you desire, talk to your family and write down your requirements before asking the professionals for their advice. A good builder will aim to accommodate all these requests if they are in line with your budget and make sure the new home fits your family lifestyle.
4. Ask Questions.
Once you have narrowed your search, contact your favourite building companies and request an appointment. You can even ask questions over the phone before deciding to meet them if you wish. Prior to the meeting, write down a few questions and concerns you have about your plans and make sure you ask them. Sometimes, you may feel overwhelmed with information, so it’s important to be organised, ask lots of questions and understand the logistics. During the meeting, you will be able to get a feeling for the company and their work ethic. Are they listening to your needs, are they someone you can work with for a long period of time and most importantly can you rely on them to complete the job in budget without pushing for ‘extras?’
5. Request a Quote.
If you are happy after your first meeting, request a quote for the building work you require, set your budget and make them aware of any constraints. Different building companies will provide different types of quotations. Some will provide you with a ‘estimated quotation,’ which means that prices may fluctuate if they come across any problems or miscalculate the cost of materials. So be warned, what you pay at the end of the job may be significantly more to the figure you are quoted at the start. Other companies, on the other hand, will provide a fixed quotation, which, if you have a particularly tight budget, would be the type of quote you want to secure.