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Do you go by instinct, recommendation, body of work or all three? Discover best practice in our essential guide.

Having any tradesmen in your home for any period of time is disruptive so choosing the right supplier to do the best job will make the inconvenience easier to bear. Best practice is to request three quotes, whatever the trade. With builders, your architect should be able to recommend several they work well with, and who have brought projects in on time and on budget.

The same applies to finding an architect. RIBA has a “find an architect” service. Approach several as it’s key to find one who shares your vision. “Building is a long process so choose someone you like, feel comfortable with and trust,” advises James Munro of Granit Architects.

NappyValleyNet runs its own accreditation scheme for suppliers, indicated by a logo. Kevin Kew of Simply Extensions suggests  doing company checks too. Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbours, as long as they are based on recent experiences. But that’s not enough. You must then look at a company’s recent projects and visit them if you can. Quiz clients. If it’s a builder, are he and his team clean and tidy, do they keep a neat site, are their workers wearing high-vis jackets? Check their credentials, their insurance and any accreditations they may have (such as ISO 9001).


“Time and money are what cause arguments,” warns Rory Gordon of Good London Builders so the next stage is to make the arrangement legal and binding through a contract. It should stipulate a completion date and payment schedule – staged payments against work completed, a final completion payment and a retention figure should anything go wrong after completion. can be between 3-10% of the job over a three-month defects liability period. It should be fair and realistic to both parties. If it’s not fair to the builder he will struggle and deadlines will be missed.

The contract should also stipulate who has responsibility if subcontractors fail to deliver. There are stories on NappyValleyNet of customers chasing subcontractors themselves though they’ve signed a contract with and paid money to a separate firm. Deposits are a moot point. It’s more usual to pay your contractor for work completed than give any upfront payment.

Finally, work positively with your project team to get the best out of them. Then, “So much more will be done for clients and so much less will be charged to them for additionals,” advises Gordon. And remember, agree any  changes or additional costs in writing.


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