Existing research from the FMB revealed that consumers should expect to wait at least four months for a quality builder to be available. However, the FMB’s latest research reveals that when this notice period is combined with the length of time various home improvement projects take to complete, homeowners will have to wait a total of:

  • Seven months for an extension;
  • Six and a half months for a loft conversion;
  • Five months to paint the entire interior of your home;
  • Five months for a new bathroom;
  • Five months for a new kitchen;
  • Five months to convert part of a master bedroom into an en-suite;
  • Five months to convert a cupboard under the stairs into a downstairs toilet; and
  • Just under five months to remove an internal wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner.

The wait times are so long because experienced and professional building firms are booked up far in advance and it’s always worth waiting for these firms if you want a stress-free experience and a quality finish. When looking to appoint a builder, alarm bells should ring if they say they can start next week.

So how should you find a builder?

This handy guide pulled together by the FMB runs through the precautions you should take to identify rogue traders and help make sure that your dream build does not turn into a nightmare.

In short, your first point of call is to ask for a recommendation from family or friends. You should then look at the building firm’s history and do some research into them.

If you can’t get a recommendation, you should use a professional trade association like the FMB, which can put them in touch with a vetted and inspected building firm. You can use our Find a Builder service to find a reliable tradesperson.

Once you have decided on your builder, make sure you don’t pay all the money up front. You should set up an agreed payment schedule and only pay the final amount when you are satisfied that all of the work has been completed to a good standard.

One of the most crucial things you need to do before you start is to have everything in writing with a contract. Get it written down and signed – costs, scope, responsibilities, timeframe – everything!

Whatever home improvement project you have planned, we hope these basic tips, as well as our handy guide will help. And remember, if a firm says they can start next week, the chances are it’s too good to be true.