A common question that we get asked very regularly is how we found a decent builder to start working with in Liverpool. Like many of you reading this, when we first started out, we didn’t know anyone at all in our investment area – Liverpool – and the idea of finding a brand-new builder and tradesmen to work with seemed terrifying!
We had heard many horror stories about cowboy builders who took your money and ran, who left jobs half-finished and some who did the complete opposite of what they were asked to do! It was paramount for us to ensure that this did not happen to us. We took our time and tried to be as logical and methodical as we could in order to find the right builder who fit our criteria. We wanted to work with someone who was reliable and trustworthy as we live so far from Liverpool. The builder needed to tick those boxes as well as working as our eyes and ears on the ground and it was a huge plus that our builder offered to do viewings for us all those years ago, and is now a dear friend of ours.
Here are a few of our top tips that helped us and can hopefully help you in finding a reputable builder to join your power team:
MAKE A SHORTLIST
We asked local property experts as well as estate agents to recommend builders. We also identified some top-rated build teams from sites like Checkatrade and Trustatrader. From there, we shortlisted a few who got back to us quickly, who we had great initial conversations with and were able to meet with us over the coming days. Google is simply a great place to start when looking for a local builder online in your property investment area.
BOOK IN INTERVIEWS
Not quite as formal as an interview, but we tried to view it that way and essentially asked as many questions as possible when we met with each builder. Get a date in the diary to meet with a few over a few days. We wanted to know all about their business, how long they had been working for, their team members, when they were available from etc . Use your time wisely and ask as much about their work as you can, the more you know about their business and how they work, the better you will feel about hiring them to work with you. It was always important to us that the builders we contacted got back to use in good time and honoured any plans we made. This is generally a good indicator of how well anyone runs their business, whatever their trade, whether it a broker or an accountant. It is important to us that they kept their word, after all, you are trusting them with your investment properties which is a pretty big deal
TAKE A LOOK AT THEIR PAST PROJECTS
Once we finished chatting, we spent time walking around their past projects with them. Most builders will happily do this with you, if not, you might want to ask why. You can learn a lot by doing this walk around with the potential builder. It illustrates the standard of their work, their finish, what they are capable of and if your ideas and visions align. You might get along really well but not like their previous projects at all; that is really why this is so important. What one person things is a “high-end” finish might be what you consider to be poor, or maybe you think it is way over the top. The more you can view and see – the more well-rounded your decision will be in the end.
We took each builder around a current site of ours, gave them a brief and asked them to quote for the job. You can then compare the different costs of each builder and see who might fit within your budget. This doesn’t mean picking the cheapest because remember - you get what you pay for! Take the time to look closely at the quote they provided and see how much attention they paid to what you asked for in your brief.
TAKE A PROFESSIONAL WITH YOU
We know this isn’t always possible but if you can, take someone with you who knows what they are doing. When we met with builders, Matt’s Dad joined us and he is a qualified plumber, electrician, tiler etc... the list goes on! It was so helpful to have him there to advise us on exactly what we were looking at and what was being said. He asked questions we would have never even thought of and asked the builders about their most recent qualifications as well which was really helpful.
Ultimately, you will pick someone who you get on well with, who fits your budget and criteria and is available to start at a reasonable date. Remember to be weary of a builder who is available to start straight away!! If your investment area is a while away from where you live, you might want to consider a builder who is also a Project Manager and pulls in all the individual tradesmen and manages the entire project for you.