Build on good foundations
11th March 2010
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Get the foundations right….some expert advice when considering improving your property and finding the right builder. I've heard so many horror stories from people who have had building work carried out unsatisfactorily that I asked bestofbishopsstortford member Martin Start, Managing Director of Saxon John Brown builders in Little Chesterford, if he would provide some sensible advice to help people planning for such projects and what they should look for when choosing a builder….
Martin focussed initially on some advice for homeowners who maybe considering improving their property….

1. Write down your main  objectives and compile a list of
priorities (e.g. size, location, use of space, timing etc).

2. Sketch out your ideas roughly.

3. Establish a budget and research funding.

4. Find out if Planning Permission and/or Building
Regulation Approval are required.

5. Arrange for accurate scaled plans to be drawn up and
submit these to your Local Authority for the necessary
consents. Don't forget any other potential permission
(e.g. Freeholders/Landlords covenants).

6. Decide on how you are going to manage the project and in particular how you will go about finding the right contractors. Martin's advice here could prove invaluable..

7. Make enquiries of reliable, trustworthy building contractors to appoint. In this respect, follow these selection principles:

• Ask friends or neighbours to recommend a company they have used.
•  Make sure they are affiliated to a recognised body    (e.g. Federation of Master Builders) and have the  "Trust Mark" accreditation. But don't just rely on seeing a printed logo! Ask for their Registration Number and check out that it is genuine.
• See if you have to pay for a visit or a quote. Most honourable building companies will quote free-of-charge, provided you are the property owner.
• Your Local Authority may be able to recommend certain contractors.
• Check out the builder's website and study their testimonials.
• Take up references from the builder and maybe ask to inspect their previous work.
• Establish how long the builder has been in business, what the state of its current order book is like and what the likely timeframe is going to be.

8. Make sure you obtain proper quotations, study them very carefully and make direct comparisons. Be confident that you know what IS and what IS NOT included.

9. If your project is of any significant size, be wary of unscrupulous companies who offer "no VAT" prices.

10.Beware of accepting cheap or the lowest tendered price. Remember the sayings "There is usually a reason why something is cheap!" and "You only get what you pay for!"

11. Finally, before committing to buy:

•  Ensure the builder is able to produce a written  contract which can be signed by both parties.
• Check the terms of the contract and when payments are expected.
• Be comfortable with the post-completion guarantee period and level of cover.

Some great advice from a business that prides it self on being straightforward to deal with a fantastic reputation.
For more information about Saxon John Brown builders and their great Velux blinds offer, please contact them on 01799 531920, email them at or visit their website.

About the Author

Ian M

Member since: 10th July 2012

I've been running The Best of Bishop's Stortford since 2010 and I'm passionate about supporting all things local. In particular, we work hard to showcase the best local businesses who give the area it's...

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