How to find a reputable building company?

Associate
Joined
31 May 2007
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Bristol
Hi everyone,

We are considering a fairly major project to build an extension over our existing garage but trying to find a decent building company is proving to be a bit of a PITA though.

I got a couple of numbers from neighbours in the area who have recently had work done, and when I have called these numbers the people I speak to seem nice enough but they never seem to follow through on promises to call me back to arrange a time to come out and look at the property.

Earlier in the year I contacted what seemed to be a fairly reputable company who came out and assessed our requirements, but again never came back to me.

It almost instantly puts me off when people don't come back to me, I hate having to chase people as if I am asking for some sort of favour.

Am I being overly harsh, or should I just continue looking for someone else?

And for those who have had major projects done - how did you find and settle on a company to do the work?

Thanks
 
Tea Drinker
Don
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Has it got planning? if not your everyday builder won't interested as planning might take a year. If you want someone to seek the planning then you need a design and build builder turn key provider.
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Mar 2010
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10,618
You're right, if a company/builder can't be bothered getting back to you with some basic quotes/further info then i wouldn't even consider them for the work. Afterall if their communication is poor before you even hire them, what's to say the communication will be any better should you encounter any issues during the build that require some communication with the builder.

It is odd though, what you've described sounds to be a major piece of work, so would be a good bit of income for a builder. You always hear of people having problems getting small jobs done because they're not worth the builders time.

Word of mouth tends to be the best way of finding a company.
 
Associate
OP
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Thanks, glad it's not just me.

Wouldn't a building company advise on planning as well?

It shouldn't be an issue to obtain as it's a fairly standard build which lots of other households on my street have had done. I am a total noob at this so I'm not really sure how to get the ball rolling.
 
Soldato
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Winchester
Thanks, glad it's not just me.

Wouldn't a building company advise on planning as well?

It shouldn't be an issue to obtain as it's a fairly standard build which lots of other households on my street have had done. I am a total noob at this so I'm not really sure how to get the ball rolling.

Very few building companies offer a full service, especially one that includes planning.

You need an architect to undertake a design and secure planning first (without that, you'll struggle for a quote). As Maccapacca says, with no planning, many builders won't be interested. A few won't even be interested until you have drawings which have been approved by Building Control.

To your main question, https://www.fmb.org.uk/
 
Associate
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As above, ideally you’ll have planning, drawings and approval in place first. I’m actually surprised the builders you’ve contacted haven’t advised of this.
 
Soldato
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North Wales
I found this, contacted 10+ builders to do our house and only 3 got back and we did get lucky that the one we chose ended up being good.

I've got a friend going the same at the moment, he's contracted around 15 builders and only even heard back from 3 or 4
 
Associate
OP
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Ok thanks all, I'll get in contact with an architect first then and see if he can give me a steer.

Cheers :)
 
Soldato
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Manchester, UK
With big jobs that require planning, most builders won't want to know unless you've got drawings / plans and planning permission from my experience.
 
Tea Drinker
Don
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Location
Sunny Sussex
Ok thanks all, I'll get in contact with an architect first then and see if he can give me a steer.

Cheers :)


As the builder get in contact with several architects to get quotes. Also understand what you want from the architect, do you want them to apply for planning? Is the build permitted development? Do you want drawings all the way to building regulation stage or just planning? Do you have sketches you can send of what you want? Do you want pretty pictures of full sections of the build with intricate details?

Local architects are often best placed because they understand the local policies and what the planning department will allow.
 
Associate
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Stafford
It works like this,

apply for planning permission to build the extension (should be fairly easy to get if there are a few in the local area that have already been done) Planners are only concerned with what it looks like really and for this size of project that is all they are going to be looking at. So, it will be ok it its similar in construction to what is existing and in and around the local area ( so use as existing a lot in your plan submission)

Then when you get planning you can do a couple of things, you can approach a builder to build it from the plans and they take care of the building control submission (you can do a full building control submission or just a notice and start work) but you might find they wont give you a price up front because they dont know what they are going to find and this can be expensive..

Or you can get all of the building control plans draw up as well as a building specification. This will include for your project things like, any structural calculations on the existing footings to see if they are good enough to take a 2nd story, If the garage is single skin you are likely going to need additional foundations to build upward from that and replace the single skin wall and things like surface water and foul drainage connection information. It should include some U value calculations of the materials being used. You might almost guarantee that a building inspector will visit and want to potentially look at foundations and drainage connections. You can then work on the specifications of all the internals and what not and then once you have all of this done you can then invite a couple of builders to quote based on the specification that you already have.

The other option is to appoint someone who can do all of this for you from start to finish and guide you trough all of the steps, a reputable construction project management company should be able to do that.
 
Associate
OP
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2,345
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Bristol
Thanks again everyone.

I've got an architect company that specialises in small scale residential work coming out to us next week.

From some initial enquires it may not be possible to extend I the way I would like. Apparently there are new regs that prevent building an extension anything over 1 metre from our side boundary, which would scupper the whole operation.

If this is the case I'll see what other options we may have when talking to the architect.
 
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