Single storey extension - questions to ask builder - things i should know?

8
Posted 5th Jul
As per title - considering borrowing money via a remortgage to extend the house.

Any tips andvice highly welcome
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Just a few quick things that popped in my head to look out for:

I assume you already have plans drawn up, otherwise most builders would only be able to give you a very vague estimate or may not be interested in quoting without them.

Depending on the size, check to see if you need local planning permission.

Make sure you get plenty of quotes in, we got 8 builders to quote, 3 never came back to us and the prices received from the others ranged wildly.

Be very clear about what they are quoting on, is it just a shell, or to install heating, electrics and furnishings - otherwise all the quotes will not be like for like and it becomes difficult to compare!

Don’t always go for the cheapest!

Make sure you check to see if your house insurance will cover you for extensions work, some don’t, so you will need to take out a separate buildings work policy, just to be safe.

Depending on where your extension is and your neighbours, you will also need to look at the party wall act to protect your neighbours, which can cost around 1k either side IF the neighbours want to be protected!

The most important thing is to make sure you pick builders that you feel comfortable with.

Ask to see other work they’ve completed and speak to the owners to get their honest thoughts on the builders.

Pay the builder in agreed instalments and make sure your final payment is not handed over until the final snagging list has been completed!
Edited by: "Bluefusion" 5th Jul
Ask the builders if they have done similar work in the area & then go & have a look at it, knock on the door & ask the other people how it went, most people won't even mind showing you what they had done. That what we did any way.
8 Comments
Just a few quick things that popped in my head to look out for:

I assume you already have plans drawn up, otherwise most builders would only be able to give you a very vague estimate or may not be interested in quoting without them.

Depending on the size, check to see if you need local planning permission.

Make sure you get plenty of quotes in, we got 8 builders to quote, 3 never came back to us and the prices received from the others ranged wildly.

Be very clear about what they are quoting on, is it just a shell, or to install heating, electrics and furnishings - otherwise all the quotes will not be like for like and it becomes difficult to compare!

Don’t always go for the cheapest!

Make sure you check to see if your house insurance will cover you for extensions work, some don’t, so you will need to take out a separate buildings work policy, just to be safe.

Depending on where your extension is and your neighbours, you will also need to look at the party wall act to protect your neighbours, which can cost around 1k either side IF the neighbours want to be protected!

The most important thing is to make sure you pick builders that you feel comfortable with.

Ask to see other work they’ve completed and speak to the owners to get their honest thoughts on the builders.

Pay the builder in agreed instalments and make sure your final payment is not handed over until the final snagging list has been completed!
Edited by: "Bluefusion" 5th Jul
Ask the builders if they have done similar work in the area & then go & have a look at it, knock on the door & ask the other people how it went, most people won't even mind showing you what they had done. That what we did any way.
Ask to see evidence of business insurance. If they are designing it too ask if they have professional indemnity insurance.

Check them out on companies house to find out that they are who they say they are. Ask about payment terms. Do a credit check. Last thing you want is them disappearing or going bust after you've paid them a load of money and your extension is only half finished.

Ask them when they can start and how long it will take them. Can they get materials with COVID 19 shortages? Are they doing all the work themselves or will they be sub-letting any of it?

Get everything you agree in writing.
Used a lot of builders over the years. The 'feeling comfortable' thing does matter. I have learnt that tradesmen who take pride in their work tend to reflect that in the way they present themselves and have good communication skills. This is important because you are often trying to get over to them what you want using laymans terms and if they come back at you with lots of jargon and building slang, you can end up with windows in the wrong place, radiators half way up a wall etc etc. Be very specific in what you want, where you want it, the materials you want to use and the price you want to pay. You'll always end up going over budget, so work on the minimum you'll be paying plus a contingency fund which you will definitely use. I prefer to get a fixed price for a job, but acknowledge that nasty expensive surprises will occur. I also prefer to deal with a lead contractor and pay him for everything, rather than deal with paying individual trades (which is cheaper), because once a particular job is finished, if there are any faults you don't wan't to be chasing around after several trades to come back and move one thing so another can do his remedial work. If you have one point of contact, it is his responsibility to sort it out. Lastly, retain some money until everything is done to your satisfaction, even the best builder will lose interest once he has been fully paid and the eye is on the next job. Personal recommendation is good, A recommendation from the architect can be good, but always check. Try not to fall out with your builder (hard sometimes). Be aware that they can be incredibly wasteful of building supplies that you are paying for. GL
Pay builders in stages otherwise they might delay you and start another job.

How are your neighbours, do you think they will object to the planning application?

Will the neighbours make complaints as neighbours can be a nightmare.

Get a few quotes and compare, Make sure you have a written contract.

Where are you located?
Good luck , it’s hard to find good builders who don’t have you over or mess the job up .

Can be a nightmare
Some nice advice in here already

We're in the middle of a single storey extension at the moment (plus some other works like new bathrooms, repair of garage to remove cracked asbestos roof etc). Few things we learned:

Know exactly what it is you want so you won't be likely to change your mind as the build progresses. We had 13 plans drawn up for our works so it covered every possible option. We now aren't tempted to change our mind and incur further costs because we knew exactly what we wanted. If you think the budget will allow, while your builder is there are there other rooms you'd like them to tackle?

Know EXACTLY what the drainage system is like. If you're looking to build close to or over a public sewer you'll need to speak with the water company to get their permission. Often their plans are inaccurate so if it looks like something is close to the build you'll need to get a CCTV to check the condition and exact location.

Understand the area and search the planning register to see what your neighbours have done and see if you can get any clues on what is likely to be accepted. We submitted our plans with a rendered finish but as no one in our street has a rendered extension the planning officer said they'd reject this and it would need to be brick. You can have a read of this at the planning portal as it gives some helpful guidance.

In terms of builder, the important things are price, time of job and whether they can provide you with references or details of previous work. You need to be sure they're absolutely reputable and not likely to let you down.

Usually your builder gives their opinion on things like build, access to site etc. They'll of course know things you wouldn't have considered.

Best of luck!
Make sure you discuss the materials that will be used. Especially those visible in the extension. It’s amazing what some will think MDF is suitable for.

How do they expect to be paid? Don’t assume it’s on job end or part way though. Especially don’t entertain material costs up front.

As others have said are they insured and established.

What days and hours will they be expected to be seen on site? We were stung by ours trying to do 2 jobs at once.
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