Hiring a Builder

One of the key aspects of any project is hiring the right person to do the job. We’ve seen the Cowboy builder programmes, we’ve read the articles in the local herald and we’ve witnessed some of the downright shoddy workmanship ourselves…. Here’s how to avoid hiring a Rogue Trader..

Hiring a Builder: The best form of recommendation is word of mouth. If your neighbours or friends are having or have had work done recently, ask if you can have a look around. Chances are, they’ll jump at the chance to show off their new addition! It’ll also help you visualise what you could have and if its even worth it for you.

Ask for recommendations: Any reputable builder will gladly put you in touch with previous clients. If for any reason your builder is uncomfortable with this then now’s the time to bail out!

Contract: Carrying out building works on your home is a big financial commitment and can be quite daunting if you allow it to be. Ensure that there is a clear contract in place for you even think of handing over any money. This contract should stipulate stages of payment, dates of completion, and of course total cost. Be aware that it is not unreasonable for a builder to ask you for a percentage up to 33% upfront. Like you, the builder is also making a financial commitment to the project and will need income to hire the necessary people and order the initial materials. If you’ve done your research and you’ve hired the right person then you should not feel uneasy about this.

Cost: Plain and simple. Never accept a quote because it’s the cheapest. The process of hiring a builder is all about who you trust to do the job well. Chances are, this person will be a large part of your life for the upcoming months so it’s important that you choose someone who you can get along with. In any building project there is a chance that through no fault of the builder, things can go wrong or problems can arise that you just couldn’t have allowed for. If you get on with each other and you have respect for one another’s circumstances then you’ll quickly resolve the problem fairly at the price of a cup of tea and a couple of chocolate hob nobs! Remember….Pay peanuts, get monkeys!

Best home renovation suppliers in Bath

When it comes to renovating your home in Bath there are lots of choices out there for kitchen, bathroom and other suppliers. Here are some of The Ugly Ducking Building Companies favourites….

Howdens – Kitchen suppliers who work exclusively with tradesman. They supply high quality kitchens. We can take advantage of their trade discounts which we then pass on to you.

Screw fix – A range of hardware, fixtures, fittings and accessories for the home. From bathrooms, to flooring, screwfix are a good one stop shop at a reasonable price.

Tops Tiles – Tiles for bathrooms, kitchens, hallways or anywhere in the home at good prices to suit all pockets.

Total Bathrooms – High spec bathrooms, offering a good range of modern brands including Laura Ashley, Thomas Crapper and Victoria & Albert Baths.

Decorator’s Centre – A range of wall coverings including paint, cladding and wallpaper. They stock a good range of brands including Crown, Julien Macdonald and Ratcliffe.

Farrow and Ball – Luxury paint brand with a trendy show room on Walcot Street. They offer rich and bold colours for those looking for something that makes a statement.

TBKS – Started its life as ‘The Bath Knob Shop’ selling Bathroom accessories, hardware, windows and doors. They offer off the self or bespoke items for the home.

Windor Bridge Joinery – Specialising in bespoke joinery, they can offer sash windows, custom made stair cases, architrave and built in furniture.

Kellaway – General builders merchants offering a range of essentials such as radiators, underfloor heating, paint and garden goods.

First steps of planning a building project

You home is likely to be one of your biggest assets, and undertaking any work should be well thought out and planned to ensure you get the best results possible. But where do you start when planning a building or property renovation project?

Here are what we see as the first essential steps to get your started:

Put together a budget – One of the first things to think about is how much money you have to spend on your building project. This will vary hugely depending on exactly what it is you are doing and what you want. For example the cost for a new bathroom could start at around £3k but depending on the specification of your suite, it could go a lot higher. Although it is important to get your work done in the most cost efficient way possible, also be realistic and think about the full picture and what it will entail. By setting a budget this will ensure you don’t get carried away adding extras that are beyond your original project scope.

Get a range a quotations to ensure you get the best price – we would recommend that you get at least 3 quotations from reputable builders or building companies for your project. Be very clear about the work you want done, this will help you get the most accurate price. Get your quotes in writing so you can compare them together and ensure they are like for like. A quote should include:

  • a fixed total price for the project
  • a breakdown of all the work to be done
  • costs for materials needed
  • how long the quote is valid for
  • the amount of VAT
  • when the price may go up, eg only if you agree to extra work

Put together a timeline  – You may have a deadline in mind for your project, if this is the case, ensure that this is realistic and that when you are getting quotes from builders, they are aware of your deadline and they are able to work towards this. Having a timeline in place also helps for you to plan your life around it and ensure it leads to the least disruption possible.

Check what regulations need to be adhered to – not all projects require planning permission or building control input, however if they do it is important that you check this before starting your project. You can go on the BANES website for plenty of useful information about the application process. Other areas that are regulated that that you may need to bear in mind are gas safe installations and electrical compliance.

Consult the professionals – As part of your project you might need to speak with a range of professionals including architects, structural engineers and builders. Speak with them before starting your project to ensure your vision is practical and doable. You should also make sure those that are speaking to are credible, check their feedback and gain a testimonial from a previous client if possible. Some tradesman will have to be registered with their trade bodies such as electricians and plumbers dealing with gas installations, so ensure they have these certifications.

Prepare the property for building work – Once you have your quotes, have chosen the professionals that are going to undertake the work, and have applied for all relevant permissions, the last step before your project starts is to prepare your house for the work. Building can be a messy job so clear the area from all furniture and valuables. Ensure the building team has access to the property so that they can start the work in a timely manner and of course be on hand regularly to check the progress.

The Ugly Duckling Building Company are happy to help every step of the way. We know that planing a building project can be stressful, so we work closely with our clients to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible. For a free no obligation quote or to chat to somebody about what you would like to achieve, get in touch with us today.

Getting planning permission in Bath

If you are looking to do some major building work you might need to apply for planning permission, generally you will need planning permission if you are:

  • Building something new
  • Making changes to your building such as building an extension
  • Changing your building for a different use

There are some handy online guides for planning permission and permitted development regimes for common projects such as conservatories, extensions, loft conversions, outbuildings and porches online which can be found here.

Also remember that your property may be subject to some planning constraints and the BANES council website has a handy function to search for this.

If you have decided that you are ready to apply for planning permission and that your project requires it, you can apply online for planing permission for your property. The online Planning Portal is the best way to do this, and can be used for planning in Bath and all surrounding areas. You may also want to seek pre-application advice from BANES to identify any problems you might encounter prior to doing your formal submission.

Your formal application will be made up of:

  • Plans of the site it relates to
  • Any supporting documentation
  • A planning permission form
  • An application fee

The planning portal clearly explains exactly what supporting documents you might need depending on your property renovation project. Depending on what you are doing will depend on what you might need and naturally bigger projects may require more information. Once you have submitted these documents through the Planning Portal your application will then automatically be sent to BANES council for a decision.

When beginning a project you must consider whether the development will need to have building regulations approval also. Building Regulations are concerned with the actual construction process for both internal and external alterations, which involves regular site inspections whilst the works are in progress. There are some types of work which will be exempt from the building regulations and an application will not be necessary. If you do need it, you can also apply for this on the Planning Portal.

Once your planning permission has been submitted, it will be considered by the council. Planning Services state they aim to decide on applications within 8 weeks of receiving it providing all the information is correct and there however large or complex applications could take longer.

Once you have your planning permission, you are ready to start your home renovation project with your trusted building partner! The Ugly Duckling Building Company can provide you with a free no obligation quote for your work, just drop us an email or call us to discuss.