Embarking on a home improvement project is an exciting time. However, before the builders arrive, a crucial step is ensuring you have a watertight builder’s contract in place. This contract protects both you and the builder, setting clear expectations and avoiding common pitfalls that can derail your project.

All Master Builders have access to a suite of contracts designed to cater for all manner of construction and renovation projects, so let’s explore the benefits of using these free-to-access resources.

Why is a well-drafted building contract essential?

Builders contract
Well drafted builder's contracts detail the full scope of works, payment schedules, realistic timelines for completion and how to address change proposals.

A well-drafted building contract acts as a roadmap for your project. It outlines:

  • Scope of works: This clearly defines the work the builder will undertake, including materials and specifications.
  • Payment schedule: This details the payment milestones tied to project completion stages.
  • Timeline: This sets a realistic timeframe for the project's completion.
  • Change orders: This outlines the process for modifications to the original plan and how associated costs will be handled.
  • Dispute resolution: This establishes a framework for resolving any disagreements that may arise. If you work with a Master Builder, you can access our free dispute resolution service to help address any issues and get your project back on track.

Common pitfalls to avoid in builders’ contracts

  • Unclear scope of works: Ambiguous descriptions can lead to disputes about what's included and what's not. Be specific about materials, finishes, and brand names.
  • Unrealistic timelines: Overly optimistic deadlines put pressure on the builder and can lead to shoddy work. Agree on a realistic timeframe with buffer periods for unforeseen challenges.
  • Unidentified costs: Hidden or unexpected costs can blow your budget. Clearly define what's included in the builder's quote and factor in potential extras like waste removal or permits.
  • Poor change order management: A change order is a formal document that acts as an amendment to the original agreement. It's used whenever there's a change to the project's scope of work. Unapproved changes can wreak havoc on your budget – your contract should detail how change orders are initiated, documented, and costed to avoid confusion and unnecessary costs.
  • Lack of warranties: A good contract includes warranties on materials and workmanship, ensuring the builder rectifies any defects within a set timeframe.

How a builder's contract protects you

Builders contract
Signing a contract with your builder probides peace of mind, financial protection and a degree of quality assurance for their work.

A well-drafted builder’s contract provides several key benefits for UK homeowners:

  • Peace of mind: Knowing your project has clear expectations reduces stress and potential conflict.
  • Financial protection: Defined payment schedules and change order procedures ensure you only pay for what's agreed upon.
  • Quality assurance: Warranties safeguard the quality of work and hold the builder accountable for any issues.
  • Dispute resolution mechanism: A clear framework streamlines resolving disagreements, potentially avoiding costly legal battles.

Seeking professional help

builders contract lawyer
A specialist construction lawyer may be able to guide you in drafting builder's contract terms specific to your project requirements.

Whilst all Master Builders can provide no-nonsense contracts for their work at no extra cost, you may still wish to consult a solicitor experienced in construction law for additional guidance. They can help you to tailor your contract terms to your specific project, ensuring it protects your interests and complies with UK regulations.

By prioritising a well-drafted builder’s contract, UK homeowners can embark on their renovation journeys with confidence, ensuring their dream project becomes a reality.

Still looking for builder for your next project?

Here's what to consider when choosing a builder for your next project

  • Qualifications and credentials: Look for accredited contractors with a proven track record in your project type.
  • Price and value: Getting competitive quotes is crucial. However, focus on value, not just the cheapest option – aim for at least three quotes to get a good indication of fair value for your project brief.
  • Communication and trust: A good builder fosters open communication and builds trust. Feeling comfortable with your chosen professional goes a long way to forming a positive working relationship.

Our Ultimate Guide to How to choose a builder dives deeper into these key points, providing tips on acquiring quotes, understanding builder contracts, and establishing fair payment terms. With this knowledge, you'll be well-equipped to find the perfect builder and ensure a smooth and successful project.

Find a Master Builder

A good builder can support you through the process, whatever option you choose, and you should find someone with experience of similar projects. Our Find a Builder service can help you to find the right person for the job.

Find a Builder

Beyond the basics: What to consider in addition to your builder’s contract

builders contract insurance
An Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG) is an insurance policy designed to protect your financial interests.

Ensure both you and the builder have adequate insurance coverage for the work you are looking to have done. This protects you from financial loss in case of accidents, injuries, or property damage during the project.

While Master Builders often provide written guarantees on their work for material or workmanship issues, these guarantees might not cover everything. Imagine this: your project has a ten-year guarantee, but halfway through, the contractor goes out of business. You're left with an unfinished project or lingering issues, and the original guarantee becomes worthless.

An Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG) offers peace of mind in such situations. It's an insurance policy specifically designed to safeguard your project. If your contractor ceases trading, an IBG can step in and cover the reasonable costs of fixing defects originally covered by the contractor's guarantee. This ensures you're not left holding the bag in case of unforeseen circumstances.

For more information on IBGs and to download your very own free guide, visit the FMB Insurance website today.

More advice on working with your builder

Getting a builder’s contract in place is just one aspect of delivering a successful building or renovation project. For more great advice on working with your builder, check out our Ultimate Guide.

Prepare for your building project

Prepare for your building project

A successful building project relies on a good working partnership and open communication between you and your builder.

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