Helen Wood of Simply Construction Group shares a dozen best practice tips to ensure success in any build.

31. Do NOT go for the cheapest
Obtain at least three different quotes and however tempting, do not go for the cheapest. If your budget is less, either wait until budgets allow or de-scope your project to reduce costs. Never find a builder to fit your budget; this often leads to contractors struggling to finish projects and leaving the job halfway through.

2. Always check the references
Unless you have had the contractor recommended by family or friends, speak to former clients and try to visit at least one of their completed projects. Be very wary of “Open Days” and references where the contractor insists on being there.

3. Agree scope set against a clear fixed price with a contract
Be cautious of any provisional sums. Admittedly, there are some items that no one will know until the work has started. If this is the case, ask the contractor to share how they price these items eg price per square metre, then make a provision within your budget.

4. Choose a Design & Build Contractor
Make life a little easier and choose a building contractor with an in-house architect who can manage the design and build process for you.

5. Check insurance & guarantees
Appoint a builder with appropriate guarantees and insurance, namely:

1. Employers’ Liability, 2. Public/Products Liability and 3. Contractors’ All Risk (CAR).

The first two are typically what builders have when they say they are fully insured but these items only insure against people and items – not your actual house and the physical area they are working on. The third item is the most expensive insurance and is the one you should make sure your builder has. Also ask if they have guarantees in place so that when your project is finished, the work is under warranty.

6. Organise your Party Wall Agreement
If your home has a wall that is connected to another property on either side, you will need to arrange an agreement before the work begins. Each neighbour has to be informed of the proposed works using a party wall notice form at least two calendar months before the start of the build, so it pays to be organised! Find out more at:

7. Thames Build Over Agreement (extensions only)
On most occasions an extension will be built over or near a manhole. If this manhole connects with your neighbour’s then it belongs to Thames Water and you will need permission to connect to it, move it or build over it. Ask your contractor to manage this process for you.

8. Try to move out
Call on friends and family to see if you can stay with them or in rented accommodation for a period, at the very least when the heaviest work is being done.

9. Temporary facilities
If you are having a kitchen extension built, it is likely that your kitchen will need to be removed. Ask your contractor to price for setting up a temporary kitchen in your project specification.

10. Be safe, not sorry
Cover any furniture with dust sheets and shut doors wherever you can to stop the dust from entering. Pack away any items not being used and for extra protection, ask your builder to put up temporary stud partitions. Make as much of a clear passage as you can to the site where the building work is taking place.

11. Keep communication open
It’s important to ensure that communication is kept open. If you have a designated Project Manager, arrange weekly meetings to review and track progress.

12. Write a detailed snag list
Write a detailed list of any snagging to ensure that a team can be dispatched straight away to correct them, allowing you to enjoy your new space as quickly as possible!

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