Getting started 

Before a building project gets under way both you and your builder should have confidence in each other, which means it is important for you to be aware of your responsibilities as a client. We've outlined 13 tips below on how to build a good relationship with your builder to ensure positive outcomes for your project.  

1. Start planning early 

Quality builders are in high demand, which means you may have to wait several months for them to be available.

2. Consider property value

Think about the value of the building work in proportion to the overall property value. For example, does installing an expensive top-of-the-range kitchen in a small flat make financial sense? Will you stay in the property long enough to see a return on your investment?

3. Check your builder's credibility

Check that the building company you want to hire is a current FMB member. If a builder is displaying the FMB logo but is not a member, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

4. Check building regulations 

As the property owner, it is your responsibility to make sure the correct building regulations, planning and environmental permissions, and Party Wall Agreements are in place for the work to your home. Your builder can advise on this, but it is ultimately the homeowner’s responsibility. Read our guide to building regulations for more information.

5. Plan your budget 

Remember to take additional expenses into account, such as the cost for decorating, new appliances, new flooring, parking permits, etc. Unless these are in the builder’s quote, you should ensure you allow for these expenses, which can add up. It is also important to allow for a contingency in case of unforeseen expenditures during building works - at least 10% is advisable.

Builders tip Builders tip

"You need to consider having a contingence for your project. Prepare for the unforeseen like updating electrics and plumbing to current regulations. A good tradesman will be able to prepare you for these things based on experience from other work completed. Sometimes you can’t always see everything on a survey and in some cases, things don’t reveal themselves until you start the work.”

McGinley’s Carpentry & Construction Ltd

6. Sign a written contract

Make sure you sign a contract before the work starts. Read our guide to choosing a builder for more information on what to include in a contract. All Master Builders have access to fair, jargon-free, easy-to-use contract templates through their membership.

7. Consider site access

Consider the property access routes and make it clear if there are special requirements that might affect the work such as parking restrictions, needs of family members or neighbours that the builders should be aware of. Home security, storage and disposal of waste, as well as use of toilet and washing facilities should also be considered.

8. Be punctual

Just as you would expect your builder to be on time and to treat you with respect, please show the same courtesy to your builder and their sub-contractors.

9. Talk to your neighbours

Let your neighbours know that building work is going ahead, how long it will take, and any potential impacts on them. Having builders working nearby can inevitably cause some disruption and this can be stressful, particularly for elderly or vulnerable people, those who do shift work or work from home, or have young children. You can help the building process run smoothly if you are considerate and keep neighbours informed. Your builder should be respectful of your neighbour’s needs, as set out in the FMB Code of Conduct.

10. Speak up 

If you have any concerns before, during or after building work, it is important to raise these directly with your main point of contact as soon as possible, so that issues can be discussed and resolved early on. If the problem cannot be resolved between you and a Master Builder, the FMB may be able to assist through our free dispute resolution service.

11. Pay on time

Pay on time and in accordance with the terms of the signed contract. Building materials and labour are expensive and payment delays may slow down work. Never pay the whole cost of the work upfront, but a deposit to cover the cost of purchasing materials may be requested. Record any deposit payments in writing. Read our guide to choosing a builder for guidance on how to pay your builder.

12. Understand your warranty

If a warranty is in place, read the policy documents carefully. If it is an FMB warranty, you can contact FMB Insurance for advice. You must submit confirmation of any deposit paid within 28 days to ensure the payment is protected under the warranty terms. If any defects or damage caused by the builder are discovered during or after the building works, your builder is responsible for returning to your property to rectify the problems in accordance with the terms of your warranty. Failure to allow your builder reasonable access is contrary to consumer law and may invalidate any warranty.

Finally... review your builder's work 

When work is complete and you have walked through the project with your builder, received any certificates, warranty documents or instructions, and discussed how to deal with snagging items, you are ready to pay the final bill. Don’t forget to give your builder a positive review online, send a testimonial to the FMB or support a nomination for the FMB’s Master Builder Awards when they next open.

Looking for a builder?

Find an independently inspected and professionally vetted Master Builder you can trust using our online search.

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