An invitation to Build


You have the all important planning permission granting document and you are rearing to go. But who do you go with? Finding the right builder can be a daunting task. They come in all sizes, shapes, colour and attitudes. Would you do an X factor style selection where the person who lifts the most bricks gets the job? Probably 

However small your building/refurbishment project, it is always advisable to approach more than one builder or contractor. Yes, Andrew built your sister’s extension and it looks great, but take your drawings, also to three other people and ask them to price it up. But builders do not sit on supermarket shelves, we have to find them. Your agent or architect may know of a reliable contractor that he or she has worked with before, friends and neighbours are a good source and there is of course the Yellow Pages; to add that fourth builder to the list. Once you have your list compiled and they have all nodded their keenness, give them a comprehensive package which includes drawings to price and return by a certain date. In effect what you would have just done here is a formal tendering process.

What you include in the tender package and its thoroughness will determine the level of detailed costs that you would expect back from the bidders. Drawings that have been approved by the council (Planning set) will have minimum required detail and would be more to do with the exteriors.  Contractors can only produce ball park figures with these drawings. So for a true costing the tender package should include:

o    A covering letter asking the contractor to respond by a certain date along with his terms and conditions, start and completion dates, insurance details and confirmation of acceptance of the penalty clause which financially protects you, the building owner if the contractor overshoots the completion date.

o    A comprehensive ‘Scope/ Schedule of Works’ which lists out all works to be carried out in detail. The bidder is asked to price for each item in the list. The reason for this is, re-pricing and checking for compliance becomes easier during the actual build stage, where there may be certain additions or omissions to works depending on site conditions.

o    A full set of updated drawings that meet building regulations (Building Regulations set, different from the Planning set) and structural engineering drawings and calculations.

All this may look a bit over the top if you are just building a small extension, but given the nature of the building process recording information becomes imperative to protect against inaccuracies and to ultimately get what you planned.
Next month I will be looking more into selecting a contractor and complying with building regulations.

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