When you’re planning out a building project, there are a lot of things to consider. Whether you’re building a brand new house from scratch or putting up a new wall in the garden, there are policies to follow, paperwork to fill in and checks to do. And one of the most important things you should be doing is checking out the builder you’re going to use. We’ve all heard the stories of cowboy builders, so today we wanted to share a few questions you can ask your builder to make sure you’re not hiring a cowboy.


Are You A Registered Limited Company?

If you are looking at two builders, one a sole trader and the other a limited company, we would always recommend choosing the limited company. This means there is a level of separation between them as an individual and them as a business. It essentially protects the builder, but it also helps legitimise them and how you work with them. It also makes it easier for you to check their past to make sure they are reliable. Whether they have any claims made against them in the past 5 years, their financials and their track record are all publicly available with a limited company, so you can do your proper due diligence before you choose.


Are You A Member Of Any Trade Associations?

Membership to a trade association isn’t a necessity to be a good builder – or to be a builder in general. But they are very nice things to have, and can give you more security and confidence when choosing a builder. Trade associations are great ways for your builder to learn new information about practices, policies and other information specific to their industry, as well as accessing special kinds of insurance and giving them the backing of a whole organisation. For example, at DNA we are:

  • NHBC members
  • NAPIT members
  • ROLEC approved
  • OLEV grant funded
  • Fully qualified, 18th edition electricians


Do You Have Any Specialists On Your Team?

Building work comes in all shapes and sizes, and there will often be a lot of overlap work with other trades in any one project. This is why reputable builders will hire their own specialists to work with them in-house. In particular, you should ask if they have a registered gas engineer, electrician and a site manager in their team. Having these skills in-house means your project won’t run into delays, and they will be able to handle anything that crops up during the project.


Do You Have Any Admin Support Staff?

This is a big one, because behind every good builder there is someone very skilled at admin! They handle all the day-to-day tasks that keep the business going and keep projects on track. It’s their job to answer questions and be the point of contact for paperwork, invoicing and queries. If your builder is doing all of this on his own, then you need to keep an eye on the paperwork side of things, because this is what tends to suffer. But if they have even 1 person in an office handling the admin, you can be confident that the paperwork will be organised and the project will run smoothly.


How Long Have You Been In Business?

Let’s clear something up – there’s nothing wrong with a new builder. Everyone has to start somewhere. And equally there’s no guarantee that builders who’ve been working for years will be any good either. But it’s always a good idea to make sure there is someone experienced working in the team, just so there’s backup in case things go wrong. This doesn’t have to be the owner of the business – just someone on site who has some knowledge and experience under their belt.


Are You Insured?

There are a few different insurances a builder needs to be completely covered, and you should only use a builder who holds them all. For example, they should have:

Public Liability Insurance: This covers if someone is hurt or something is damaged during construction, so that you will be paid for the inconvenience.

Employers Liability Insurance: This is a requirement when any company starts to employ people, and if an employee is ill or injured because of their job they will get compensation from the insurance company.

Contractor’s All-Risk Insurance: This is an essential for anyone in a trade because it protects your property and any third parties. If your builder doesn’t have this in place, you should not work with them.


Is Your Health And Safety Policy Up To Date?

Building is a job with a lot of risks included, for both the builders and you. So, it’s important to know that the builder you hire will do their best to provide a safe environment to work in, where no one has to claim on insurance. This means they should have a comprehensive set of health and safety procedures and fire safety procedures to follow, and they should be able to provide you with a copy of this on request.


Can You Provide Me With A Detailed, Written Quote?

All legitimate builders should be able to provide you with a quote, in writing, that gives you a fixed price summary of everything that will be done for your build. It should include:

Fixed Price: All builders will give you a rough estimate for the work, but they aren’t obligated to stick to that estimate. They should be able to refine this down to a fixed price before they start any work.

Material Cost: The quote should set out the cost of all materials they will need to buy and use. If you’re not sure if this is right, ask your architect to look over the list to make sure you have everything included and aren’t paying for something you don’t need.

Scope: This section should explain exactly what’s included in the quote, what work will be carried out and when, and more importantly what isn’t included in the quote. This prevents nasty surprises later down the line.

VAT: Do the prices include or exclude VAT? Since VAT in the UK is 20%, that’s not something you want to be sprung on you at the last minute.

Guarantee: If they’re offering a guarantee (which they should), it should be in writing at the bottom of the quote and confirmed with a UK-based insurance company.


All of this to say, if your builder isn’t willing to put anything they’re going to do in writing, don’t work with them!


At DNA Brickwork & Builders, we are always happy to answer as many questions as you can throw at us – including all of the ones above. We want you to feel completely comfortable and confident with your choice of builder, which is why you will get a dedicated project manager for your project from day 1. We can handle the whole project from beginning to end, keeping in contact with you through your project manager to ensure everything is going smoothly, and that you are happy with everything. If you would like to know more about how we work, please just get in touch with the team today.