The construction industry is full of companies that over promise and under deliver. We have all heard the stories – a property owner goes to a contractor with a budget, and a brief; works start and all seems to run smoothly until they don’t…
The price you were told suddenly isn’t enough to cover the costs of the project. Additional charges quickly mount up and for some reason there are delays in securing labour or materials. The timeframe you were promised becomes ‘unachievable’ and deadlines are quickly missed with little explanation as to why.
At this point, the project can go one of two ways – either the client ends up paying the additional fees to complete the works and accepts the revised deadlines or works cease until a compromise can be met.
Assuming the quality of workmanship isn’t a complete disappointment, many will end up meeting the contractor somewhere in the middle. The whole experience just leaves you feeling like you’ve been hustled – you no longer trust the advice given, you’re massively out of pocket and fed up.
Yes, finding the wrong building contractor can be a disaster for your project! You do not need that stress.
A good contractor will always have your back, and keep you informed on the progress of your project. You can trust the price they give you is the price, and you know they will deliver on time to a high standard, every time!
Here are our top tips on finding the right team for your project.
Relationships are everything in this business!
We will let you in on a little secret – whilst ‘credentials’ and ‘case studies’ are important, it isn’t what defines a good contractor!
We all know companies love to brag about their best works, but many will rarely admit to their failings. They show off their latest testimonials, biggest clients and best projects, but when pressed for information about previous mistakes, most aren’t forthcoming.
It is your relationship with your contractor that matters the most! Are they honest with you? Can you trust what they say? Will they hold their hands up and admit to a mistake?
Your contractor should be passionate about what they do and providing excellent customer service should be their top priority. It is an area that is often overlooked, but if you are working with a contractor that holds customer service close to their heart, you can believe they will look after you.
Tip: Try taking a different approach to finding a contractor. Instead of looking at only their ‘best work’ or ‘biggest clients’, ask them what has been their ‘biggest lessons learnt’ – we all have them, so don’t accept ‘we never make mistakes’ as an answer!
Rely on Word of Mouth
As we said earlier, relationships are everything in this sector. If you want to find a reputable building contractor, speak to a friend or colleague that can recommend one. It is a good place to start, especially if you can visit recent examples of their work.
Tip: A lot of building contractors rely on word of mouth and if you can find a company through someone you trust, then you can normally trust they will do a good job. Just make sure to check their reviews from other customers. They might have been good with one customer but terrible with others. Look for consistency in their service.
Reach out to previous clients
Make sure to talk to previous clients. Not all clients are comfortable with posting public testimonials, particularly in blue-chip organisations, but they may be silent advocates of your chosen building contractor.
Tip: Try and get references from your chosen building contractor. Make sure the clients selected are relevant to your sector or have undertaken a similar type of project.
You want to compare like for like – your building contractor might have done brilliantly with retail fit-outs but performed poorly in managing hotel refurbishments. Different sectors require different expertise, and you need to make sure the contractor you chose is equipped to deal with industry specific challenges.
Find a building contractor through your Architect
Most design agencies will have a few preferred construction firms they have worked with over the years. Depending on your arrangement with your designer, they may be able to help you find a good building contractor.
If a designer is prepared to recommend a building contractor, you can safely assume they have a good working relationship with them. This has an added benefit in ensuring communication between design and construction teams is seamless.
Tip: A word of caution – you can be limited on choice if you are working with a small design firm. You might find another construction firm that might be cheaper or better qualified for your project if you tender the works out yourself.
Beware of ‘too good to be true’ quotes
If it sounds too good to be true, it most probably is! You want to make sure your building contractor has done proper research before providing you with a quote. Make sure they have included costs for any contingency plans or any potential areas of overspend. There can be bumps along the way with construction projects – the trick to ensuring you don’t overspend is to do proper research at the planning stage.
Tip: Make sure your building contractor has covered everything off with their quote. Have they done proper research? Have they visited the site? Have they costed up a contingency plan should you need it?
Choose a reliable building contractor from a trade association, or accredited body
If a building contractor is a member of a recognised trade association or accredited by a recognised body, chances are, they follow industry standards and procedures. That being said, it is always wise to check the accreditations and training of the individuals working on your project as well.
There is no point in working with an accredited construction firm that then doesn’t appoint anyone with the right training or expertise. Make sure to check the CV’s and training of the people that will be trusted to deliver your project.
Tip: Looking at company memberships and accreditations are a good starting point, but it shouldn’t be the only qualifying factor. There are a lot of skilled tradesman out there that may not pay for company memberships or corporate accreditations but will have individuals who have the right training and expertise needed for the job.
The same applies when seeking a construction firm with experience in your sector or project type. You may find a contractor you like but the company doesn’t have loads of case studies to present. However, the individuals that would be appointed to run your project have a specialism in your field brought with them from previous roles.
Make sure to check both individual capabilities AND company expertise.