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  • Writer's pictureSusan Van Meter

Design Process: Builders


I will only work with two building contractors that I trust. Unfortunately, I have had too many bad experiences using builders nominated by other parties and the project has turned into a highly stressful experience. This results in lost time and money, and trust from the client. It's just not worth it.

If your project goes out to Tender (construction package) and three costs come back, automatically choosing the lower price might not be the right way to go even though you may be tempted. Hiring a contractor based on references, seeing examples of their work and their overall professionalism is essential.

You want your project to be executed with care and to a high standard. I would therefore not be tempted to try to push the price down unless you see a valid reason to do so.

The main points to consider when choosing a builder:

  1. Make sure they have excellent references

  2. You have seen examples of their work

  3. You have the correct contract in place either a JCT Minor Works or FMB Plain English, or one that is applicable to your project. The designer or architect can advise.

  4. They have both public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

  5. Do not pay in full before the snagging has been completed. Hold back 10% minimum.

  6. If it's a large project, there may be a retention of monies for 6 months for the rectification of settling plasterwork or paintwork, plumbing issues, etc.

  7. The contractor should be available to come back up to a year after the completion of their work if anything should go wrong.

It is normal for builders to purchase all construction materials, plasterboard, timber, adhesives, cabling, pipework, flooring, etc, any specialist materials or works may be handled by the design firm you are working with. The builder will always want to use the standard suppliers they have accounts with to ensure competitive discounts are made available to them (not passed onto the client).

Some design firms act as the main contractor if they are paid by the client and then hold monies to disperse to the builder and sub-contractor. If they are acting as the main contractor this then makes them wholly responsible for any of the works on site. If the client pays the contractors directly, it is then the builder that is responsible for and guarantees the work.

I do hope this helps you understand the building process a little better.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me here

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