03 Nov 2015

Working alongside professionals on your self-build project

A recent survey by design inspiration platform Houzz has unveiled UK self-build and renovation habits, including what percentage of home-improvers work alongside professionals and for which aspects of their project.

The 2015 Houzz and Home survey recently gathered information from 9500 UK homeowners about their renovation and self-build activity during the last two years.

The survey found that nine in ten homeowners renovated their homes with professional help in 2014. A third of them involved a home builder and nearly a quarter hired a kitchen designer/fitter and/or an architect. Over half hired an electrician, plumber or carpenters/joiners.

86% of renovators considered good reviews or recommendations to be the most important factor when choosing a service provider, followed by experience with projects of similar scope and good communication/organisation skills. While homeowners aged under 35 generally align with other generations on hiring criteria, they are twice as likely as those in the 55-64 age bracket to base hiring on the lowest cost bid.

Over a quarter of homeowners who hired professional help during renovations cite their service providers as having significant or moderate influence on their decision making. Unsurprisingly, family and friends are a large source of influence for half of homeowners. Relying on the advice of professionals when making renovation decisions stays fairly steady with age.

98% of the homeowners who took part in the survey and built a custom/self-build home in 2014 hired professional help. Of these homeowners, 70% hired an architect, 53% a kitchen designer and fitter, 28% a design and build firm and 16% an interior designer. Top hiring criteria was similar to those for renovations, yet more homeowners were influenced by their service providers during custom/self-building.

Sourcing professionals

Recent research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) found that one in five consumers with building or repair work required in their properties find reasons to delay due to a number of anxieties about using tradespeople. However, there are many online resources that allow you to search for trustworthy professionals.

If you’re looking for an architect, the RIBA has a search resource on its website where you can browse more than 3000 UK RIBA Chartered Practices by name, location, area of expertise and services offered. The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) website allows you to search for a local interior designer and Houzz.co.uk provides a search engine for all kinds of professional services, from kitchen designers and fitters to landscape architects. Other association websites worth perusing are the Society of British and International Designers (SBID) and the Society of Garden Designers (SGD).

If you’re keen to ask an expert for advice rather than committing to hire, the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon host a monthly ‘Ask an Architect’ event held in conjunction with the RIBA. Visitors get a personal consultation with an architect to discuss ideas with no obligation and no fees. The NSBRC is also a great location to source companies and ideas, with over 250 exhibitors permanently on display.

When it comes to finding a reliable tradesperson and workmen, it’s worth doing a little background research to ensure you hire a trustworthy professional. According to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, many local authorities work in partnership with trusted trading schemes, whilst others run their own local authority trading standard approved trader schemes. Each local authority is different so contract yours to find out about such schemes. Online resources such as trustatrader.com, checkatrade.com and Which? Local allow you to search through recommended, vetted and monitored trades and service providers. You can also search for local tradespeople working to Government Endorsed Standards at Trustmark.com.

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