How to Choose the Best Builders - Paul Ennis

How to Choose the Best Builders


Whether you’re looking to add a conversion to your home or are in the midst of planning a stunning new-build, working with a trusted and professional builder can make all the difference to your next home construction job. However, it can seem like a daunting task ensuring you pick the right builder for your project, especially as there are countless companies offering you all sorts of services that they may or may not be able to fulfil. We’ve all heard the horror stories of cowboy builders taking customers for a ride and leaving them with subpar or, at worst, unsafe work; so the fear of working with a dodgy builder isn’t completely unfounded.

Therefore, choosing the right local builder is essential to having as smooth a project as possible when working on your home. If you’re currently despairing over which builder to choose, read on to see some of our top tips.

Understand your project

One of the first places to start when looking to hire a quality builder is to fully understand what jobs need to be done. Spend time drawing up your ideas and try to be as specific as possible before meeting with your builder. It would also be prudent to write up a schedule of works document which will best outline the jobs that need to be completed and help to keep your chosen company on task.

In doing this, you will invariably end up saving yourself time and will give your builder a definitive understanding of the project.

Research is key

Knowing who you’re working with is half the battle when it comes to choosing the best builder for the job so make sure you to do a fair amount of research on the company in question. The best place to start is by simply asking other people who have previously worked with them; if friends or family have used them, even better. Consider asking questions like “were they punctual?” or “was the project brought in on budget and before the deadline?” These questions can really illuminate the quality of your chosen builder and a trusted recommendation can go a long way when making your decision.

If you can’t find any previous customers to talk to, there are other ways to do some preliminary research. Check to see if the builder in question has a testimonial page in order to read the opinions of previous customers and look online at review pages or trusted sites such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). The FMB is especially useful due to its rigorous vetting process for members and is seen as the gold standard within the industry.

Finally, spend time collecting quotes from multiple contractors in your area. Having an understanding of the average price for your job will pay dividends in the long run by giving you a clear picture of what a fair price for your project would be.


Work with trusted builders

Trust is an important part of any building project you’re looking to undertake. These kinds of jobs usually take time, money and a fair amount of effort to complete, so making sure you’re working with an expert who will get the job done is essential. With this in mind, one of the main indicators of a great builder is their transparency during the building process.

A top quality builder will supply you with an in-depth timeline and a full estimate of the job at hand so you’re clued up on their plans from the beginning. They should also offer you information on the contractors they may use and will have an easily contactable member of staff in case of emergency. If your chosen builder struggles to adequately answer these questions, they may not have the skills necessary to carry out the job.

To help create the most transparent dynamic between yourself and your builder, it is critical to have a clear level of communication. Working with someone who not only ask questions about your vision but spends time consciously understanding your construction goals will make the whole process much easier. If however, they are difficult to converse with or display a lack of commitment to your project, these could be potential red flags.

Finally, work with someone who will create a comfortable atmosphere for your questions. You don’t know everything about the construction process, hence why you have hired a builder, so working with a company that encourages you to ask whatever crazy question you may have will create a much better element of trust between yourself and the contractor.

Prioritising safety

Working in construction has always been a pretty unsafe job to carry out, and with around 64,000 accidents in UK in the industry every year, it’s imperative that the company you decide to work with upholds a high degree of safety. In doing so, they’re helping to keep you and anyone else on site safe and ensure the finished product meets the stringent regulations put in place by the government.

As a bare minimum, a builder or contractor should be adhering to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA). This is “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of all employees working on the site. If you believe that your contractor isn’t working within safety regulations, you could be putting yourself and others in danger. Also, make sure that the builder you work with is fully covered in relation to insurance for the job at hand. Public and employer liability insurance are the most common types covers, but you may need other policies to ensure the project runs smoothly. A contractor will need to show you their insurance credentials if you require them, so make sure to ask before work begins.


Work with quality local house builders

Overall, you want to be working with people that take pride in their work. There are a variety of awards and honours given to exceptional building companies that can give you an idea of the level of excellence to which they work. The Local Authority Building Control is a prime example of this, handing out awards to building companies deemed excellent in their field. The government endorsed Trustmark is another indicator of top quality work, so keep an eye out for either of these when shopping around.

Also, look into the services that a contractor can offer. Top quality building companies can offer a variety of solutions to best fit your needs on the job. Aside from construction, specialist builders may be able to offer architectural and surveying services, giving you a one-stop shop when it comes to your next construction project.

Things to watch out for

Of course, it’s good to look out for the above points when shopping around for your next builder but it’s also useful to understand some of the red flags that are potential could be signs that you’re working with a subpar contractor. Here are just a few to keep in mind:


  • Be wary when receiving a quote which is significantly less than what you might expect. If you find that the contractor in question is undercutting their competitors by a large amount, they may be using subpar materials leading to a low-quality build.


  • If your builder isn’t supplying you with a list of the subcontractors they expect to work with, tread carefully. These are the people who will be doing much of the work around your property so a contractor being evasive about who they may work with presents a risk to you and your property.


  • Make sure you know what you’re signing, or indeed, not signing when it comes to picking a builder. If you’re being pushed into signing something that is written in a confusing manner, stop and seek some professional advice. Adversely, always make sure to have some kind of formal written agreement / contract in order to keep you safe from shoddy and unfinished work.  Standard contracts are available from such organisations as the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) and Federation of Master Builders (FMB), for example.


  • Finally, check their work history! If your chosen company has a murky history that is difficult to research, this is a huge indicator that that their previous work is not up to scratch. A top quality builder will be proud of their previous projects and will have a deep professional connection with the community they work in.

Paul Ennis – The North East’s Premier Construction Company

Making sure you’re working with top quality builders and contractors can make the difference between a subpar job and a build you can be truly proud of. So make sure you’re working with the best at Paul Ennis.

Supplying the North East with award-winning construction solutions, you can be sure you’re in the best hands when it comes to your next building project. Being experts in the field of construction, architectural design and surveying, we can advise you on all aspects of the process and will strive to realise your vision.