A Survival guide to building work!

If you have a growing family and are looking to expand your home with either a loft conversion or a home extension building project then look no further than this useful checklist the team at Simply Construction Group have compiled:


Before you select your chosen building company or contractor have a look a through the following helpful suggestions:


  1. Do NOT go for the cheapest!

When embarking on a building project it is wise to select at least three different contractors to quote for your work.  Even though as tempting as it seems, do not always go for the cheapest quote.  The established building firms who are delivering quality work year on year will price roughly in the same range. If the cost is coming in roughly at the same level and your budget is less – you may not have enough for your project. Either wait until budgets allow or de-scope your project to bring the costs down. NEVER find a builder to fit your budget if it seems tight, there are many firms out there who will work within what ever budget you set them. This often leads to trouble with contractors struggling to finish projects and leaving sites halfway through.


  1. Always check the references of the chosen contractor

Unless you have had the contractor recommended by family / friends, make sure you speak to some clients who have used the contractor before and try to visit at least one of the completed projects. This will give you a feel of what it is like working with the contractor. Note: Be very wary of “Open Days” and references where the contractor insists being there. You want the reference to feel free to be open and honest.


  1. Make sure you have an agreed scope set against a clear fixed price with a contract

When looking through your quotations, there should not be any provisional sums, to be confirmed later. On some occasions there are items that no one will know until the work has started. Ask the contractor to share how they price these items i.e. price per SQM etc. Then make sure you make a provision within your budget.


  1. Choose a Design & Build Contractor

If you want to make life a little easier, choose a building contractor with in house architects who can manage the whole design and build process for you.


  1. Choose a builder with insurance and guarantees!

Make sure you appoint a builder with appropriate guarantees and insurance in place.  The builder should have three important elements to their insurance:

1) Employers Liability

2) Public / Products Liability

3) Contractors ALL Risk

The first two elements are typically what builders have when they say they are fully insured. These items only insure against people and items – not your actual house and the physical area they are working on. The third item is the most expensive one to have (the reason why some contractors don’t have it!) and is the one you should make sure your builder has. Don’t forget to ask them if they also have guarantees in place so that when your project is finished, you have peace of mind that the work is under warranty.


Once the contractor is chosen, there are a few things to remember:


  • Organise your party wall agreement

If your home has a wall that is connected to another property on either side, then you will need to arrange a party wall agreement before the work begins.  Each neighbour has to be informed of the proposed works using a party wall notice form at least two calendar months before the start of the build, so it pays to be organised!  You can find more information on this process through the following link: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/br/BR_partywall_explain_booklet.pdf


  • Thames Build Over Agreement (Extensions Only)

On most occasions an extension will be built over or near a manhole. If this manhole connects with your neighbours then it belongs to Thames Water and you will need permission to connect to it, move it or build over it.  Ask your contractor if they can manage this process for you.


  • Try to move out

There’s no denying that building work can be disruptive and noisy at times!   A good contractor will try their hardest to keep noise and mess to a minimum but if you simply need to move out, then now is the time to call on friends and family to see if you can stay with them or in rented accommodation for any given period.  If it is impossible to move out for the entire build, then pick a week or two when the heaviest work is being done. Finally, for families with small children try to arrange extra play dates with friends and family away from the home.


  • Temporary facilities

If it is likely that your kitchen will need to be removed, don’t forget to ask your chosen contractor to add the set up of a temporary kitchen into your project specification.


  • Protect your furniture

Throughout the build, there may be times when your home can get very dusty.  Make sure you cover any furniture with dust sheets, and shut doors wherever you can to stop the dust from entering.  Pack away any items not being used to prevent them from being damaged.  For extra protection you ask your builder to put up temporary stud partitions to block out any work being done to your home.


  • Keep passage ways clear

During the building work, materials for your new space will be coming in and any waste will need to go out.  To make this less disruptive and to ensure no damage is done to other parts of your home, make as much of a clear passage as you can to the site where the building work is taking place.


  • Keep communication open

Throughout the build its important to ensure that communication is kept open.  If you have a designated Project Manager, make sure you arrange weekly meetings to review and track progress.


  • Write a detailed snag list

As you near the end of your project, make sure you write a detailed and comprehensive list of any snagging that needs to be completed such as small touch ups to paint work etc.  Checking and writing everything in one list ensures that a team can be dispatched straight away to deal with any minor repairs needed, allowing you to enjoy your space as quickly as possible!

Simply Construction Group including Simply Loft and Simply Extend brands are the leading design and build building contractor across the South East.  This year we have launched in Essex and have converted thousands of homes into beautiful spaces in around the South East.  Call us for a free no obligation site survey of your home on 0800 917 7571.

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