"If a builder is free to start work tomorrow, alarm bells should ring"
New research from the Federation of Master Builders has revealed that to avoid the risk of being stuck with a cowboy, home owners ideally should book their builder at least 4 months in advance.
According to the FMB, an alarming number of consumers don't ask their builders for essentials such as a contract or references when embarking upon a major piece of building work.
The research found that more than 40% of builders need at least four months' notice from consumers who want to hire their firm and that 90% say that the majority of home owners do not ask for a written contract.
Further to this, 80% of builders report that most consumers do not ask for an agreed payment schedule and fewer than 10% of builders say that clients normally request to see vital insurance policies such as public liability or employer's liability insurance.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: "If a builder is free to start work tomorrow, alarm bells should ring. Demand for building work is incredibly high at the moment and it should be no surprise that almost one in two builders need to be contacted at least four months in advance of when a client is looking to start a home improvement project. The workloads of builders have been rising steadily over the past two years and there's no shortage of work.
That's why we're urging home owners who are keen to crack on with their build or renovation projects to start getting in touch with prospective builders as soon as possible. Otherwise, they risk disappointment delaying their projects or worse still, working with a dodgy builder. So many building horror stories start with a client approaching a builder who's free to start work sooner than the more professional builder who is really busy."
Berry concluded: "There are also indications that home owners are leaving themselves vulnerable to problems in terms of how they approach their building work. The vast majority of builders say that most clients fail to ask for references and even fewer ask for a written contract on their work. There is a similar trend when it comes to asking for critical things like an agreed payment schedule and key warranties on work, as well as checking whether the builder has any external accreditation or recognition from professional trade association like the FMB.
These protections really are essential to helping clients weed out the cowboys and mitigate against any issues that could crop up during the build. A quality builder will insist on these things and if they don't, consumers ought to question why."