The Federation of Master Builders

Questions to ask your builder before you sign a contract

Published date: 19 July 2019

Are you thinking of creating your dream home? Whether you’re designing a property from scratch or extending your current home, ensuring you have the right builder and someone you can trust is key. There are many horror stories involving the so called ‘cowboy builder’ and this is something to be avoided at all costs.

Building your own home can be an extremely exciting prospect and the end-result incredibly rewarding. However, if the correct measures are not taken before the job starts, the whole process can become long, expensive and overwhelming, with problems quickly escalating.

We chatted to FMB Member and builder Scott Joyce recently to get his advice on how to approach your search for the right builder and the sorts of questions you should ask. Scott regularly provides advice at the Homebuilding & Renovating shows on the ‘Ask the Experts’ panel.

“The most important thing is to do your homework. This is your home”, says Scott. “Everything is in the communication with your builder. I always suggest to prospective clients to get 3 quotes in total. It’s important to have something to compare to. Always provide a list of specifications upfront and be precise, so that builders know exactly what to quote for.”

Top questions to ask:

  • Have you got references and examples of past work?
  • Do you have insurance and warranties for all aspects of the build?
  • Where do I stand if I need to cancel? (This is important to establish early on. It is quite standard for builders to ask for a small deposit beforehand).
  • What are the timelines for the build?
  • Can I get a quotation in writing?
  • How is payment expected and will you stick to our budget? (Your payment schedule should be part of the written quote and should state that work has to be completed before money is released. Other than a small deposit, do not give money upfront. Unforeseen costs are uncommon, so don't go up to your budget. The quote should remain the same unless you add on more work.)
  • Are you a member of a recognised trade body?

Scott insures with FMB Insurance and has our Contractors Liability package. Our Sales & Business Manager, Josh Carlton, emphasises, “It’ so important that you get evidence from the builder that they are trading with Public Liability. This will make sure that if they damage the homeowners, or neighbouring property whilst carrying out works, then they have cover in place to cover the cost”.

For further advice or to find out more check the Products area of or website or call one of our friendly sales team on 01353 652760.

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