top of page

Inter County Surveys

Architectural Services        Aerial  Surveys       Design and Planning 

The Builder

Ok, so your ready to to find a builder.

If you are then you have already have your full design drawings done, you have your planning approval (if required), and you have your building regulation approval. Because unless you have gone through all these stages, you are not ready for the builder or sub-contractors.

Engaging a builder without the all of the above in place, can, and is more often the route to absolute carnage and disaster. 

It’s one thing to find a builder and quite another to find the right builder for you and your particular project. You need to seek out building firms that are accredited and that have the right insurances and experience of the type of work you need doing, who can deliver your project for the right price, and whom you feel you can trust and get along with.

Do you know a friend or family member who lives in your area, or a neighbour whose recent building project has left you seriously impressed? Ask them for the details of their builder. Using a recommended builder from a trusted source is one of the best ways to begin your search.

When considering and 'interviewing' a prospective builder ask for the contact details of clients that they are currently working for, and clients where they have finished. Contact the people, and if possible go and see there work. Typical question to ask are, 'did they come when they said they would', 'did they start and finish when they said they would' 'was the job completed for the sum agreed at the beginning' 'did they feel comfortable with the people working in their property?

With any kind of building work, it is vital to agree the basic principles of the project. Put simplistically, what, when and for how much. A simple written building contract with your builder ensures that everybody involved in the project understands what has been agreed. A good contract can reduce the chance of confusion or disagreement, and provides peace of mind for you and your builder.

Payment conditions, and schedules of payment, together with retention amounts are all normally included within the contract conditions.
It is uncommon for builders to ask for deposits before starting a major job. If you have asked for any made-to-order elements, such as timber windows, you may be asked to pay a deposit for these, but, ensure you get receipts for all deposits paid, or, make the payments direct to the supplier.

Good building contracts are designed to protect both you and your builder, and create a document to refer to for any disputes. Here's why they're essential to any build project.


Building contracts can take many forms, but it's a formal written contract that you'll need to set your project up for success.


Once you find a builder you trust and want to work with, it's not a legal requirement for a written contract to be created before they can start to work on your project — after all, you'll have technically entered into a contract by instructing them to start work, even if you've only communicated verbally.


However, if you've ever had problems with a builder, you'll know that really, a handshake is not enough. Formal, written building contracts might mean extra admin, but they serve both parties as a document to refer to if any disputes arise during the build, and ensure everyone knows what's expected during the project. Please remember,  you have no friends in business!

From the payment terms and how long the build will take, through to key but often overlooked considerations such as health and safety and insurance, a good building contract will make sure all parties are singing from the same hymn sheet.


While there isn’t a legal requirement to have a written building contract in place, it’s an essential part of any complex construction project. Forging ahead without a formal written contract (remember a contract doesn’t have to be written to be binding) could land your build in hot water.


They provide a coherent document for both parties to refer back to in regards to the project’s specifics, and make sure that key elements don’t fall between the cracks of clear communication. 

Who has insurance in case of a site fire? When is payment expected? What happens if the project overruns? A building contract provides clear responsibility should any disputes between client and contractor occur. 

The legal landscape has changed quite a bit in recent years, especially in consumer protection. There is now strict legislation requiring builders to set out information with their prices on all manner of things that are outside the scope of this article.

The upshot, however, is that there is more reason now for builders to have a written contract, some requiring a formal ‘cancellation period’ to be given, in the absence of which there can be dire consequences. Contracts that are geared towards a consumer project will have these protections in place.

A reluctance to sign a building contract is also a good sign that you may have a cowboy builder on your hands. 

A standard building contract is a contract produced by the building industry that can be used as a template to engage a single contractor. There are many forms of standard building contracts available. Examples are published by JCTRIBA and FMB, to name a few. 

We commonly prepare simple building contracts for our clients, it provides peace of mind for all parties, including the builder.

Contact us for further information

bottom of page