26 Apr 2016

The importance of finding the right builder

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Building or renovating can be one of the biggest decisions that you may make in your life so it’s important that you find the perfect builder.

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Taking your dream and turning it into reality is not something to take lightly, and securing the services of a builder you can trust can be as challenging as the build process itself.

For Zoe and Stuart Webber, finding the perfect builder to renovate their newly purchased first home in Lancashire was a challenge made easy with the use of the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) Find a Builder online service.

“You hear such horror stories where people have been let down, so for reassurance we posted our project on the FMB website,” Zoe says.

Their project, a 150-year-old barn, had been converted some 15 years or so before, but there was a ramshackle workshop just steps away, desperately crying out for attention.

Having tried in vain to acquire the services of a builder for their project, Zoe turned online after a suggestion from a friend renewed the couple’s hope in finding the right fit.

“A friend of mine, a landscape designer, told me to take a look at the website, that it might help us find someone. We had absolutely no experience in this kind of thing so we wanted to use the services from the FMB and the guarantees that go along with it,” Zoe explains.

Finding the ideal match

The Find a Builder online service can help take the hassle out of searching for a qualified and trustworthy builder and put you on the right track right from the outset. While there is typically nothing better than a recommendation from a friend, sometimes that’s not possible and that’s where the FMB can help.

“We did not begin our search with the Find a Builder service but ended up relying on it as we were not having much luck in our search to find a builder we could trust,” says Zoe. “We were new to the Lancashire area and did not know anyone in the building industry and were not happy with the suggestions we had been given.

“It’s about trusting your builder and the service; making sure that what you are getting is a quality service. One of the builders that we originally looked at gave us a quote on the back of a fag packet.”

Since 2011 all FMB members have undergone a strict inspection process on joining to make sure that homeowners can trust in the quality of services provided. By opting for an FMB member, clients are also supported by low cost insurance back warranties and a free of charge disputes service if problems are raised.

Using the FMB service allows you to search your local area for highly qualified builders around you project location. Desperate for someone to begin work on their barn project, Zoe was delighted when Martin Silcock, Managing Director at Tricklebank, provided a quote for the job.

“We discovered Tricklebank had experience working with lots of period properties, so we knew they would be sympathetic to our project. Martin was enthusiastic and interested, and his quote included everything, right down to the last tin of paint,” says Zoe.

“Tricklebank was definitely more expensive than some of the others, but at the same time we knew what we would expect from the quote we received. With some of the others we were never sure if what they quoted would be the final figure or if things would begin to pile-up.”

Martin put the couple at ease with his transparency in costing the job, and, although he was nearly £10,000 more than their other quotes, he found ways to make adjustments and reduce the cost of some items.

It’s vital to check the cost of things upfront, make sure that the quote you are given is not going to change during the course of building works. Even down to the removal of waste from site, the quote should be agreed at the outset and the project should be delivered at that price.

“We didn’t actually have enough money to do the project, but we asked Martin if we could get started and save up as we went along,” says Zoe. “We had an open and honest dialogue throughout and he worked really hard to save money where he could.”

Trustworthy relationships

Having a good working relationship with your builder is important, and that’s why references play an important role in the selection process. Talking to prior clients is a great way to get an understanding of what you are likely to encounter with your builder.

With their project now all wrapped up, the Webbers have been overwhelmed by the support and care given by the full team at Tricklebank and the assistance they were given by the FMB services. It’s definitely a process that Zoe says she would return to if they ever decided to renovate again.

“We’re not daunted by the prospect of doing another project, in fact, if I ever had the opportunity, I’d get Martin to build us a house,” says Zoe. “However, if we were in another area where we again didn’t know anyone to help then I would definitely go back to the Find a Builder service.”

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