Nowadays thanks to better publicity, self publishing and TV shows like Cowboy Builders the spotlight is really on building contractors. For every homeowner that wants to have building work done, finding trusted builders is very important.
Unless you know the people you are employing personally, there is no way to really tell a good building contractor from a bad one. A lot of people get caught out by cowboy builders because they are such good salesmen. Renovations and extensions to your home can be very costly and it is astounding that some people will spend ages choosing a jacket that costs 100 but will choose the first builder they meet for a project that could cost 20,000!
When you decide you need to hire building contractors, by all means take recommendations from friends and family as word of mouth is a very effective tool, but do not rely on this alone. When it comes to finding a reputable builder you can never really rely on the honesty of other people. You should ask for references from building contractors or ask them to take you to a job they have completed previously. Any builder that is trustworthy will not mind you checking up on them as this is part of doing business. If you do take references, make sure you phone them and do not just take the builder’s word for it. Cowboy builders will rely on you not checking references or previous work and they give an illusion of being reputable knowing full well that many clients will not check out the references.
Finding building contractors that are a member of a trade body does not guarantee that they are trustworthy builders but it is an indicator. When you are getting a quote from the builders you should check whether they are a member of the trade body that they say they are. Contacting a trade body about the builder can help to give you peace of mind and can also help the trade bodies to weed out those building contractors who are falsely claiming to be members?
Whatever the cost of the building project that is being undertaken, you will always need a contract in place before any work starts. A trusted builder will want you to have a contract as it will protect them as well. A contract will lay out exactly what is expected of both parties as well as a fixed schedule of work for a fixed amount of money. There may be changes as the project progresses but you will have a base from which to work from. Any builder who does not want a contract should be avoided.
Finally, building contractors will never ask for complete payment upfront. They are more than likely to ask for a deposit for materials but it should be no more than this. You can choose to negotiate payment throughout the job or at the end. This will really depend on the job itself and the builder. Never ever pay large amounts of money upfront.