How to deal with Builders

Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, reveals how to deal with builders...

Julia Evans link

How can I check a builder’s credentials?

Membership of a reputable trade federation, like the National Federation of Builders (NFB), is the best check of a builder’s credentials. You can find a list of current members in your area from our website -

The NFB has strict membership criteria covering workmanship, financial status and health and safety and also operates a Code of Practice to help safeguard customers.

Our members are required to provide eight references from customers, suppliers and financial institutions. Some other trade associations may not be as rigorous, so you may want to check their membership criteria before using them to check credentials.

If a set price is agreed and the build costs more, do I have to pay extra?

Make sure that you agree everything in writing upfront. The NFB encourages its members to use the JCT building contract for homeowners and occupiers – a straight-forward, plain-English contract – which sets down in writing what’s expected of you and your builder, such as payment terms and agreements, helping to avoid any potential disputes.

Are builders insured for accidents or do I have to get my own cover?

Avoid using a builder who doesn’t carry their own insurance. Ask whether they are covered against claims covering property damage and personal liability in the case of accident or injury and include this in your contract.

Is it cheaper for me to get materials myself?

Your builder will almost certainly be able to buy things more cheaply. As builders buy large quantities of materials they can achieve economies of scale which brings down the price they pay.

Is work guaranteed for a certain period of time?

Consider taking out a warranty which insures you against future problems with your building work. The NFB operates “Benchmark Plan” - a members-only insurance scheme which pays out the cost of correcting any building work defects for periods up to 20 years after the job is completed.

How can I check that a builder’s work is up to standard?

Get a referral from family or friends who have recently had work done. Almost half of those homeowners surveyed by the NFB said they wouldn’t bother asking a builder for references.

Ask each builder you’ve selected to provide at least two or three references - then check them! If your builder is a member of a trade association like the NFB then this guarantees the standard of their work. An NFB membership certificate is one of the guarantees accepted by mortgage providers and lenders.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) is a trade federation representing over 1,500 builders and contractors across England and Wales.

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