Archive for the ‘Builders’ Category
Avoiding cowboy builders is not easy. Just to illustrate this, in the UK alone there are over 100,000 complaints a year against what we call ‘cowboy’ builders. It is so bad that TV programmes have even started to be made about them. The problem is you do not need any official qualifications to be a builder in the UK. So the profession is littered with people who are unprofessional and not skilled – they operate in a grey area of the law much like cowboys did in the late 19th Century USA – hence ‘cowboy’ builders.
So how do you avoid these cowboy builders?
Cowboy builders are a fact of life. But there are lots of things that you can do to avoid getting one. Here are 12 top tips you can do to avoid being caught by people determined to exploit others:
1. Avoiding cowboy builders for one thing means don’t just accept the offer of the first builder you come across. Look for at least 3 quotes from reputable businesses.
2. Find out about them. For example, get the builder’s actual business address as well as their phone or email details.
3. Check out their professional credentials. Do they possess ‘competency’ certificates or qualifications, and are they members of an accredited association? Rogue and cowboy builders are usually not.
4. Ask for references and check them out. Reputable service providers will collect testimonials and examples of their work. Check that these are genuine. Most are proud and only too willing to produce evidence like this.
5. Keep detailed notes of all conversations you have with a builder, including dates and prices etc. and document any important matters you agree in writing.
6. Insist on a quotation. Get a written detailed quotation from potential providers
7. Avoid cowboy builders by documenting any changes to the quotation and insist on receiving a new amended version each time a change is made.
8. Ask your builder for a timetable of events for completing the project and agree any changes to this together. Always have in your possession the latest agreed project timetable.
9.Try and pay for each stage of the building work as it is completed. Never pay a builder up front all of the cost. Agree payment terms and installments in advance, and avoid paying any money upfront.
10. Price and quality. Remember, when choosing a business there is often a trade off between price and quality — the better quality work and/or materials the higher the price is likely to be. Don’t expect to get the best quality for the lowest price
11. Examine progress. As the work proceeds, personally inspect each phase as you go and don’t pay for it unless you are satisfied with it
12. Project Manager. If the project is particularly large consider employing a project manager. They will charge you for managing the work on your behalf but will relieve you of the day-to-day management and hassle.
To avoid cowboy builders means you have to be very very careful. There are plenty other things we could advise to avoid cowboy builders and suggest but these are the main points to consider. If you keep to these you shouldn’t go far wrong and should be protected from anyone trying to exploit or cheat.
We recently published a blog post on ‘How to find a builder’ and presented some ways you could do this easily and safely. While many still use traditional ways to find a builder such as newspapers and directories, it is certainly the case that more and more people are seeking to hire services (including finding and hiring builders) online.
So, we decided to give you a short guide on how to find a builder online. There are many courses of action you could choose – even on the internet! Here are a few to help you get started:
1. You could always start by going into a search engine and typing: ‘how to find a builder’ or ‘how to find a builder online’. You are likely to get a lot of results but it is unlikely that you will get a satisfactory search since this term is more likely to give you advice and information rather than direct access to a builder – basically, it’s too broad!
2. You could do a search that includes you local city, town, or village. For example, ‘find a builder online in Manchester’, or ‘find a builder online in Barnham’. This way builders that have a website with their local area on it are likely to come up.
3. Our view at Comcero – in fact the whole purpose of setting up Comcero, is to make the problem (how to find a builder online) much easier, quicker and safer. So we recommend you post your job here to find a builder quickly and easily.
4. Whatever you decide, make sure you make a note of the builders you find online that you think can do the job, then contact them for a quote.
5. After this, all the other checks and considerations that we discussed in the previous blog post should come into play. We’ve included a couple of the more critical of these again in case you haven’t seen that post.
6. You might want to think about getting a couple or three bids for every job. Compare the bids to make sure they offer the same scope of work, similar quality of materials, provide warranties, and can do the job in the same period of time.
7. Once you have managed to find a builder online, don’t forget to ask if the builder has done any projects similar to yours. If so, do your best to check them out as that will give you a first-hand view of a similar project.
8. Make sure you can get access to the builder’s licensing information. Talk to them about how long they’ve been in business and how large their staff is and what building jobs they have done that are similar to the one you want doing. You should also find out what you can about whether they have insurance and at what level.
9. Get any promises, guarantees and warranties in writing. The contract should be as detailed as possible on materials, brands, colours, time period and so on.
10. The problem of how to find a builder online has never been more easily answered than here at Comcero. Post your job here and start getting quotes and checking testimonials now.
How to find a builder seems to have become an increasingly difficult question to answer, not because there aren’t good builders out there (there are probably more than there have ever been!) but because we find it increasingly difficult to trust ourselves to find a builder with the right qualifications, experience and prices.
There are so many stories about ‘rogue’ builders, ‘cowboy’ builders and people all too ready to rip us off that we lack the confidence to know when we see a good person to do our building work.
Thankfully, the rogues are few a far between and most builders are of sound reputation and well qualified. But to make sure you can be confident of finding the builder you need we have compiled a short list to help you in your search.
1. Try to get some ‘builder’ stories and referrals from your friends and people you know who have been happy with work a builder has done for them in the past. Contact your local council for any advice they have. They can’t recommend a builder for you, and certainly won’t find a builder for you but they will have some guidelines. If your building project you have in mind is fairly large then you might want to seek out the services of an architect. Not only will these help with your design they often work closely with builders and know what to look fo
2. Newspapers, directories, friends, relatives, neighbours, local authorities, and the internet are all great places to find a local builder. Or you can cut all that out and come straight to Comcero.com. Not only will you find a builder but you can manage your entire project ith them within the Comcero system. In fact, take a look at a later blog we posted on finding a builder online – here.
3. You might want to think about getting a couple or three bids for every job. Compare the bids to make sure they offer the same scope of work, similar quality of materials, provide warranties, and can do the job in the same period of time.
4. Once you have managed to find a builder, don’t forget to ask if the builder has done any projects similar to yours. If so, do your best to check them out as that will give you a first-hand view of a comparable project. Call the home owners and ask how the work went and if they have any positive or negative comments about the builder.
5. Make sure you can get access to the builder’s licensing information. Talk to them about how long they’ve been in business and how large their staff is and what building jobs they have done that are similar to the one you want doing. You should also find out what you can about whether they have insurance and at what level.
6. Get any promises, guarantees and warranties in writing. The contract should be as detailed as possible on materials, brands, colours, time period and so on.
7. Ensure your contract details a payment schedule that you have both agreed on before the work starts. Agree penalties for any delays that might occur and have an agreement on how any cost overruns will be dealt with or managed.
8. If at any point during work you need to discuss a detail of the project with your builder get their reassurances that you can do this. The better the quality the relationship between you and the builder you find the more chance the job will be concluded satisfactorily.
9. Agree when you find a builder that you want that you don’t make the final payment to them on the project until it is completed to your satisfaction.