You do seem to take your life in your hands when selecting a new tradesman. Even a simple plumbing job can create tension in finding a decent person to fix your problem. When you’re suddenly spending thousands on a home extension, the stress is getting the right builder is immense.
Because of our build (adding a second storey to a bungalow) we had three options which allowed us to research different builders and the system they use.
Our first option was a modular build, made off-site and then craned on. The benefits to this were time on site – 3-4 weeks only, which as we were living in situ, really appealed. Moduloft were excellent at planning and drawing, with very keen pricing (it seems making stuff in Yorkshire is cheaper than the South East!). They had a team to assist in planning applications and also structural engineering was handled by them. We saw a build they had just done in Essex and we were really impressed seeing it in the flesh, such a high quality finish considering it came down via the M1 on the back of several lorries! Why didn’t we select them? They are masters at what they do, but we had more work we wanted done which wasn’t within their capability, namely the replacement of the back roof to match the new one, our downstairs work to open up rooms and a full K-Rend finish to the ground floor. You also need to have access for a crane to put the units on your house, this would have meant a road closure in our busy street and £4-5,000 extra costs for doing so. They did start working with a contractor in London who could have done some of that work but we were committed to another builder already.
Our second option was a timber-framed build done on site. We are lucky that we have a sizeable lawn this could have been done on and a roofing specialist opposite that was really keen to do this for us – he’d actually done a similar thing on his own home. But he was too busy! He’d landed a couple of really massive contracts (one being the Trocadero in London) and unfortunately couldn’t proceed with us.
So we ended up with a traditional block build. The benefits were that we could get one contractor to do everything, including all our work downstairs and the finishing off. We spoke with half a dozen local builders, mainly from recommendation but also looking at other builds happening that looked good (and were progressing at pace), noting down the number displayed on their sign.
The builder we finally went with was George Best Builders (no, not the footballer!). He had cheekily sent us an outline price when we first went through planning (which is a public record with your address on), but we stayed in touch and he was really keen. We built up a conversation around our adjusted plans (more of that later) and he directed us to examples of work he was carrying out or finishing, which all looked very good.
What won it for us was the enthusiasm, quality work and flexibility over pricing and payments which made us realise George was immensely trustworthy. Your builder should be your partner in your project, not just a supplier, and that’s what we feel we have with George. Our development will be a real showcase for him and we trust him to deliver.
Of course, it could still go wrong – but watch this space – he’s under even more pressure now…
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