You have work requiring to your home: constructing a drive way, building a garden wall, fitting central heating; or indeed  you have a Planning and Building Warrant and you are ready to appoint a contractor / Builder.

You will probably have taken a lot of time as to what to ask your builder, and how you going to reach an agreement about costs, payments and standard of workmanship. In short you will be looking for a reasonable guarantee that you are getting value for money and that the work will be carried out timeously, cause little disruption, and be to an acceptable standard.  


Most people Have seen or heard of horror stories where Builders have taken their money; have half finished the work; wokmanship is poor; and in many instances the work left behind is in a dangerous state. You will be wise to such and you are promising yourself that you will not fall into a similar predicament;  and yet, it happens.


How to avoid the potential of such a predicament?

The answer is simple: put every thing in writing, and only pay for work which has been completed.

Never hand over any money untill you have received a formal invoice and a receipt describing in detail the work done. 


How do I go about formalising my agreement

The written agreement you are seeking is the basis of your formal contract, ( please note even though certain issues may not have been discussed, you and your builder when entering into a contract, will have binding obligations wich are reasonable and just in the eyes of the Law).


Tender Doucument

The best way to have such an agreement is to opt for a tender issue. the tender documents is usually sent out to a number of potential builders who have expressed a desire to tender (price) for the work. The tender issue is a standard document outlining to your potential builder conditions under which he will be employed. Such conditions will generally cover, a description of the work; work rates, that can be measured; statutory obligations, health and safety, workmanship and fittness of materials employed. and perhaps will have a time scale in which the work will have to be completed.(see our sample of tender issue). For larger projects the tender Document might be sent out together with a Bill of Quantities. The bill of quantities are quantified  and fully described items of work. The bill of quantities are used by the client or his architect to pay the Builder for work done; and for material which the builder has already bought.


Minor Jobs

For smaller day to day jobs, such as fitting a bathroom, or constructing a wall, there is no requirement to have such comprehensive documents as described. Nonetheless, it is advisable that the  job in hand should be put in writing; and the particulars of each party (ie. the names and address of the client and the builder, with perhaps telephone number, should be stated, together with a brief description of the work, and how much it costs, agree a price before committing yourself. Always pay for the job: never on an hourly basis.


Caution: why you should never pay Builders up front for materials. 

Bona fide Builders and Contractors, will usually have building accounts with Builder's Merchants. Such acconts give Builders generally one month grace before they have to pay for the material they buy. Some Builders merchants, will offer up to two months credit. Therefore, if a Builder ask for money up front to buy materials, be very careful: our advise is never pay up front. Even if the materials are delivered on site, they may have not been paid for and hence they would not belong to you. If in doubt ask your builder for receipts and delivery orders. 

If a job is likely to last for a week or even two, advise the builder that you will pay on completion of the works; otherwise agree a payment method before as part of your agreement. Remember: building work carried out to your home will not get up and walk away; on the other hand people have legs.



It is not possible to give exhaustive advice on here. Nonetheless if you are thinking about employing , and you possibly have some concerns, please call us. Our advice is free and impartial.

As an option, we offer to prepare Tender doucments and even carry out periodical inspections. Our rates are very competative and reasonable. For the larger job, Site Management might be the order.


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