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Communicating with your builder

No matter how large or small your building project is, you will need to establish good lines of communication with your builder for it to be a success.

Most of us only undertake building projects once or twice during the period we live in a property. This means that we are not used to handling work of this complexity or length. That’s one of the reasons why we want to hire a builder we can trust, who will complete the work to a high standard within an agreed budget and timescale. What we often forget is that the builder also needs to be able to trust the client; to be paid on time and to be told of any changes that may affect the work they are doing.

If you are embarking on a big project such as a loft conversion, large extension or complete house-build, it makes sense to establish a good relationship with your builder. It will make it easier for you to solve the problems that occur during your project and to complete the job on time with the minimum amount of hassle. Getting on with your builder could be the difference between success and failure.

How do I communicate with my builder?

Start working with your builder from the moment he comes to quote for the job. Although you may have three or more builders quoting for your project, you won’t know which one to pick until the quotes come in, so make sure you treat each one politely, give them as much information as you have and ask relevant questions. Show them that you are interested in the quality of their work and that you are prepared to work around their needs. Ask for a detailed quote; that way, the builder knows you want to keep close track of the project and that they will have something to measure progress against.

Once you have decided on your builder, you should both sign a contract. A builder contract is beneficial to both parties; the client can see exactly what work is going to be done and in what order, and the builder has a written agreement on payment, so he can order materials and book additional contractors accordingly. If there are any changes made during the building job, they need to be signed off by both parties.

Making the first move

If you come across a problem or you have a query during the building process, speak to your builder as soon as possible. Delaying could mean that the problem is covered up by other work and will be more expensive to put right. It’s worth going round your project at the end of each day, so that anything that you want to query can be raised the following morning. Also make sure that you speak to the builder direct, rather than complaining to other contractors or workers. Establishing communication with one person during the project makes it easier to manage and avoids confusion. It may even be wise to set up a regular meeting with your builder – perhaps 15 minutes first thing in the morning – just to assess progress and find out what’s expected during the day.

Keep your side of the bargain

You can’t expect your builder to work to contract if you don’t. For large projects, you will need to agree a payment schedule with your builder. This allows them to order materials and equipment in the knowledge that they will be reimbursed. If you have agreed to this, then its your responsibility to ensure that your builder is paid on time. Not only will this maintain your relationship, it may mean that building phases are completed more quickly, because the builder is confident enough to order materials as they are needed.

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