Choosing your building contractor

Research and homework are essential!

WHEN it comes to home improving, whether you are converting your attic, planning your dream extension or upgrading your worn and jaded kitchen or bathroom, you just want to enjoy the finished article.  Nobody actually enjoys the renovations as they happen; they just want the building work to end so that they can get on with their busy lifestyle and unwind in their new surroundings.

After painstaking time spent planning and saving for your much yearned for home improvements, you simply want everything to run as smoothly as possible – with minimum stress and disruption.

So how do you go about choosing your building contractor, one that is reliable, trusted and professional or better still how do you avoid the dreaded cowboys?


Recommendations from family, friends and colleagues are usually a great starting point as well as observing building projects in your local neighbourhood.  Research and homework is vital, so be prepared to ask all the relevant questions.  Be sure to check the builder’s website, affiliations, testimonials and social media profiles.  Only engage with experienced and established firms that can provide you with an address and landline details.

Arrange to meet the building contractor at your home and make sure you are fully prepared with a very specific and thorough brief.  If at all possible, providing even the simplest of drawings will go a long way and even better if they are to scale.

Meeting the builder in person, should certainly give you a good feel for them on a personal level and allow you to test both their industry knowledge and their communication skills.  Keep in mind, it will be most important to have a good relationship with your builder as they may be around for a while and you will need them to keep you fully informed at all times.

Establish if the builder has sufficient insurance cover and is fully registered as not doing so may lead to serious implications later on.  If you are hoping to avail of the Governments Home Renovation Incentive scheme (HRI) ensure that they are fully participating in this scheme.

Without a doubt, you hope to get a fair price but be wary of basing your decision on price alone as it might end up costing you more in the long run.  Compare any quotes on a like by like basis to ensure they include the same level of specification and quality of materials and be sure to question any variations.

A written contract is essential as it offers protection if anything should go askew.  The contract should document the agreed schedule of works, payment terms, staged and final along with agreed timescales for commencement and completion.

Now, fast forward a few months, when you are kicking back relaxing with friends around your dining table in your beautiful new contemporary extension.  Let’s just say, here’s hoping that you will have no cowboy builder tales of woe or horror stories to share but instead nothing but praise and admiration for your builder for a job well done!

Clodagh Doyle