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Choosing Your Builder: Cheapest Quote Wins?
By Adrian Kinley
You have your 3 quotes from each potential builder so choosing the one you
are going to trust with your re-modelling, new garage, extension etc. should
be easy, shouldnt it? Unfortunately most homeowners would consider
this the end of their search for a builder when in fact what you should be
doing next is the second most important if your home improvement project
is to run smoothly (whats the most important? You will find the answer
at the end of this article).
When asking a builder for a quote you should always ask him to include with
his reply, the name, address and phone number of the job he is currently
working on as well as the last two jobs completed. If you have your quotes
but didnt ask for references, do it now.
Why do you need to check references when surely the cheapest quote should
get the job? Perhaps your cheapest quote has a habit of adding the dreaded
extras on to his final bill where as your second quote does not. Perhaps
your dearest quote always finishes his jobs ahead of schedule and time is
of the essence to you.
Try to visit at least one of the jobs from each of the three references just
to confirm that the work was carried out and your builder hasnt just
given you the phone numbers of his cousins!
Write down your questions before visiting or telephoning. This will ensure
you ask the same questions of each builder and you will be able to spot any
patterns emerging. Using a sheet of A4 write your questions in a column to
the left and divide the rest of the page into 3 columns putting the names
of the references at the top of each. Do this with 3 sheets, one for each
Your questions should include but are not limited to:
How would you rate your experience with this builder?
How did you rate the builders communication skills?
Why did you choose him, price, personally recommended or references?
Was the work finished on time? If not, why? Reasons outside of builders
control such as bad weather should be ignored.
Did the final bill match the original quote? If not, why?
Have you had to call him back to correct any faults? If so, was the work
Did the builder provide adequate on-site supervision?
Did the builder maintain a safe, neat and tidy site?
Would you use this builder again?
Once you have your 3 sheets of answers, any major problems are staring you
in the face. Example, builder 1 never finishes on time and builder 2 always
has a large list of extras to add on to his final invoice, where as builder
3 finishes early and within his quote. Builder 3 is the obvious choice even
if he is charging a few hundred extra.
Its not always going to be that obvious and sometimes the answers
importance will be dependant on your personal circumstances. Example, builders
1 and 3 tend to leave the site in a bit of a mess while builder 2 always
puts everything away and makes sure the site is reasonably safe. Not a problem
if you live alone but if you have kids, will they be able to play in the
back yard at weekends with tools laid around, ditches left exposed etc?
Checking the references of your potential builders should always be
a major factor when choosing the builder for your home improvement work,
second only to making sure they sign a building contract before work commences.
If everyone got into the habit of checking references then your average builder
would be much more obliging in settling any disputes that arise with clients
because he would know that his next customer is likely to be talking to this
one in the coming weeks.
Article by Adrian Kinley. Adrian is the author of the now famous e-book,
Builder Secrets Exposed which can be found at
He is also editor and chief writer for
which gives home improvement tips and other advice on employing a builder.