Avoiding the cowboys: How to hire a builder

Avoiding the cowboys: How to hire a builder

If you’re a homeowner, at some point you’re likely to need to hire a builder to carry out repairs or improvements. But with all the horror stories you read on the internet, the process can seem scary. How do you avoid the cowboys, and how do you make sure the work done is satisfactory? Here are some tips to help you hire and work with a builder.

Stay local

When you’re trying to find a builder to do some work for you, it can be tempting to cast a wide net, especially if those nearby are busy. But this isn’t recommended unless it’s someone you know or have hired before.

A local builder is easier to call back if issues arise or if you find further work to do. And they’re likely to be more willing to turn up. It can also be harder to check the reputation of someone who doesn’t live locally.

Don’t rush in

Taking time to do your research is key to successfully hiring a builder. Ideally, you want to choose someone with a good reputation, the right skills and plenty of experience.

A good way to start is to make a list of the local builders and building companies in your area. Then, check with family and friends, to see if they’ve used any of them and whether they’d recommend them. Builders may also have lots of online reviews from customers, which can help determine how good they are. They may also have their own website featuring case studies of work they have done in your area. Next, you can check to see if they’re members of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) for extra reassurance.

Now it’s time to narrow down your list. Some builders and building companies specialise or concentrate on certain jobs, such as renovations and extensions or maintenance and repairs. So, it can be handy to make a list of the jobs you want completing and see which builders on your shortlist are the best match. Looking at the descriptions on their listings and at previous jobs they’ve done should help with this.

Getting quotes

Once you have a shortlist of builders that you’re happy with, it’s time to contact them for quotes. Even if it’s just a small repair job, you want to get at least three quotes.

To make sure that the quotes you get are accurate and fair, invite your shortlisted builders around to assess the job and discuss your options with them. If there’s more than one way to complete a job, ask for separate quotes for each option. Also, ask for detailed quotes, as this makes it easier to compare costs and look for savings.

Sometimes quotes can seem a little excessive or too good to be true. You can check the average cost for most building jobs online, to get a feel for what’s fair. If quotes seem a little low, check that hidden costs such as scaffolding and skips are included.

If a builder says they’ll give you a cheap quote in exchange for cash up front, be very wary. This is a tactic frequently used by cowboys.

Working with a builder

Once you’ve found a builder, and you’ve received a quote that you’re happy with, you need to agree upon a start date. It’s rare that a builder will be able to start right away, so make sure you pin them down to a date, so you can prepare.

It’s also a good idea before they start work to check if you need to do anything such as move furniture or cars out of the way. If there are access or similar issues, make sure they’re aware of them. It’s also wise to check they have all the right paperwork in place. Your builder should have insurance to cover public liability and accidental damage and an insurance-backed guarantee, so the work they do is still covered even if they go out of business.

As you may have guessed by now, communication is a very important part of maintaining a good working relationship with your builder. Make sure you’re clear about what you want, and speak up straight away if you have any concerns. Keep an eye on progress, so you can be confident everything is moving along as you’d expect and that nothing is deviating from the agreed plan.


Small scale home improvements that can make a big difference

Small scale home improvements that can make a big difference

Home improvements are one of the most engaging and exciting home based tasks in which you can get involved. They definitely trump cleaning and chores, and they can make all the difference to the overall look and feel of your living spaces.

But many people shy away from home improvements, thinking they take too much financial investment, time and effort. Of course, there are many home improvement projects that can be included in this category. Major renovations such as extensions, loft conversions and more are capable of being greatly disruptive and can cost a huge sum.

However, not all home improvements need to be taken to this level. Instead, there’s a host of small scale improvements that you can choose from that will still have a hugely positive impact on your home’s value and appearance. Here are a few that you might like to take into consideration!

Painting and decorating

Feel like one of your rooms needs a bit of a refresh? This is where painting and decorating can make all the difference. Painting your room can help to make it feel fresh and new. You can choose a new colour scheme or you can stick to the old one. Either way, walls will appear fresh, even and bright. If you’re choosing a new colour, make sure to patch test it on your walls to see how it dries. If you don’t have much time on your hands or don’t want to risk messing up, you can use a professional painter decorator who will have the job completed quickly and to a high standard.

Window shutters

Few homes have window shutters but Plantation Shutters can make all the difference to your home’s functionality and design. Not only do they have aesthetic value, but they can also help with managing the light and temperature levels in your home, allowing sunlight and heat in or blocking them out. Consider styles and colours that go well with your home’s interior as well as exterior.

Kitchen counter-tops

We tend to accept the counter-tops we have in our kitchens when we move into our home. For many of us, they don’t even stand out as something that can be changed. But you can always replace your worktops with something of a different material, colour or design. Popular options include granite, marble and quartz. Make sure to look into the qualities of any counter-tops you’re choosing to make sure that they suit your individual needs well. Some are less absorbent and resistant to spills and stains, some less so. Some are more durable than others too.


When did you last consider the kerb appeal of your home? Sure, the majority of us focus on our interiors when it comes to home improvements, but working on the outside of your home can add value and make you feel happier in your living space too. Try painting the front door, fixing squeaky gates, making sure fence panels are even and more. These small steps will make a huge difference overall.

Each of these changes can have a huge impact on your home without entailing the money, time and effort involved in full scale home renovations. Hopefully, one or two will appeal to you!


5 home improvement projects to start in the new year

5 home improvement projects to start in the new yearcredit

If you’ve been researching ways to add value to your home, or you simply need to alter your house to align with your current needs, you may have settled on an idea that you would love to implement.

Home improvement projects can be carried out for a myriad of different motivations and they are an exciting way to spend money for all of the right reasons. There are DIY jobs that you can do yourself or call in the professionals such as Handyman Wichita KS. Below are five home improvement projects for you to start in 2022:

Skylight in a loft room

1. Install a skylight

Skylights are an effective way to bring daylight into your home. By increasing the number of natural light sources in your home, you can change how your home functions and feels.

Skylights are not just an aesthetic feature; the addition of one in the right place can provide added benefits too. By installing a new natural light source, you can save money and energy by reducing your reliance on artificial lighting. On average in the U.S. skylight replacement cost is between $300 and $1,200 for professional installation without taking materials into account.  


Home office

2. Redesign your home office

The COVID-19 pandemic created a shift to home office working and remote learning which motivated many to find a suitable place to use at home to do that. As people struggled to make sense of what was happening in the world around them, they made temporary solutions at short notice to help them survive and thrive.

This year you have the power to change all that by creating a sustainable home office solution that meets your professional needs and reflects your personal style.

Al fresco kitchen

3. Add an outdoor kitchen

Adding an outdoor kitchen will give you an entirely new place to hang out in the fresh air. This isn’t only pandemic safe, it will also add value to your home.

If you’re in the market for a new house and you’re looking for homes for sale in Toronto, make sure that you find one with the right bones to handle this type of gorgeous renovation. Outdoor kitchens are places in your garden or yard where you can cook, eat and entertain al fresco.

She shed with woman standing outside

4. Build a she shed

Traditionally, a she shed is a converted outdoor shed created for the ‘lady of the house’ to create, entertain or just rest & relax. A she shed can be any structure that is dedicated for her to do her own thing.

She sheds can be bought in kit form and typically cost around fifteen thousand dollars to build and install. That budget will buy you a ten-foot space to use as you see fit. You can also buy a blank shell, like a pre-built shed, for less than half of that price.

Garden entertainment area

5. Expand your entertainment area

The entertainment area is often everyone’s favourite place to gather. Outdoor entertainment areas function like indoor spaces, and the better they function – the more value they’ll add to your overall property value.

By expanding your outdoor entertainment area, you can be part of the growing global trend of spending more time outdoors with your neighbours, friends and family members.


A guide to improving your home’s kerb appeal

A guide to improving your home’s kerb appeal

Home improvements are a great idea if you are a home-owner as they can make living in the property much more enjoyable, plus they can also add a great deal of value to your home which is ideal if you are considering a sale down the line. Additionally, it can be exciting and rewarding to see the project coming together although there may be a few disruptions while work is carried out. There are also endless possibilities when it comes to home improvements and what will be right for you will depend on the type of home you have, your circumstances and the amount of money that you have to spend.

Equity release

Financing the work

First, you need to decide how much money you want to spend and how you will fund the work. If you do not have savings to dip into, many home-owners over the age of 55 are finding that an equity release is a good option. If you’re unfamiliar with what is involved, you can easily learn more about equity release with Sunlife. If you’re wondering where can money released from your home take you, you could improve anything from new carpets and flooring to building a conservatory or redecorating your whole house.

Architect drawing house plans

Improvements to consider

Now that you know how much you have to work with you can decide on a project. Here are a few good options to consider:

Extension: An extension will give you a lot more room to work within your house and is a good idea for growing families or those that feel constricted by the amount of space that they currently have.

Conservatory: Conservatories are a great way to add a bright and airy space which are perfect for warm summer days. They can be used in many different ways too whether you want a lounge-type area of somewhere filled with plants.

Kitchen remodelling: The kitchen is the heart of the home and somewhere that you should be able to comfortably cook in. Remodelling the kitchen can transform the home, particularly if you have added space where people can socialise. It is also a superb way to increase the value of your home and attract buyers.

Rendering the external façade: First impressions count and opinions about a house are made before someone even steps inside. Adding a fresh stucco to the front elevation can transform the look of a building stuccorepairtucson.com is a specialist in this area.

Garden: There is nothing better than spending time in the backyard during the warmer months of the year. Making improvements like decking, water features, and a shed can be affordable and add value to the property.

Builder with a spirit level

Hiring the right people

Now you will want to find the right people for the job, and this is an area that many people worry about as you hear many horror stories. Going on word of mouth is a good idea but always research companies and look for good reviews and previous projects that you like the look of.

Home improvements can transform the property and make it somewhere that is much more practical and enjoyable to live, as well as add-on value to the home. It can also be daunting, but the above information should help any home-owner to get the project completed with relative ease.