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Briefing a Builder

Some advice on how to brief and manage builders including what to look out for before jumping in to large project.

Check the builder's qualifications

Ask if the builder has NVQ or HND qualifications in construction and see copies of certificates. You could also contact a trade association to see which qualifications are relevant to the type of work being done. If you're having electrical or gas work done, you will need specially qualified people to meet safety standards.  

Professional associations can often help you find qualified people in your area.

Check whether the builder has insurance

Check that  the builder has insurance cover and that it won’t run out while they are working.  The builder should have public liability insurance  which is needed in case someone gets hurt on site.  They may also have cover in case there is damage to your property, they go bust or have an accident, so you can pay someone else to finish the job.

Check the builder considers planning permission

Before you start any major building work, the builder will need to contact your local authority planning department to get planning permission. If you don't get planning permission where needed, you'll be breaking the law and you may be required to pull the building work down.

The builder should consider all building regulations

The builder's work will need to meet building regulations. To ensure the regulations are met, you will either need to use a builder registered with the competent persons scheme in England and Wales or a builder who is an approved certifier under one of the Scottish Government’s building certification schemes in Scotland, or involve your local authority Building Control Department.

If in doubt, get advice from your local authority

In England, the government leaflet Building work, replacements and repairs to your home tells you more about the competent person scheme and whether the work you're having done needs to meet Building regulations. Go to: www.gov.uk.

Builder work may also need a surveyor, architect or quantity surveyor

Your builder may need to work alongside a surveyor, architect or quantity surveyor if you are doing work that:

  • is major structural work to your property
  • needs planning permission
  • has to meet buildings regulations.

For example, an architect can draw up plans to submit to the local authority. You can get advice on whether you need a surveyor, architect or quantity surveyor from the Chartered Surveyor's Voluntary Scheme or organisations that represent surveyors and architects.

Builder contract

If it's a large or complicated job, make sure you get the details of the work in writing. Builders should supply a contract, a letter of agreement or a written quotation which you both sign.


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