Falling out with builders

I have fallen out with my builder!!!

Congratulations! Welcome to the club. Don’t worry about it it’s a big club.

If you are involved in any form of property development or refurbishment for any length of time its inevitable that at some point you will fall out with your builder even ones you have known a long time and worked with before

Disputes with builders can usually be traced back to 2 main issues

The first main issue is money

It is vital that before work begins every single thing has been priced for and agreed

You also must make sure that in the event of any additional work you have made it clear to your builder that they must not proceed before agreeing it with you first

And it is absolutely essential that you agree payment terms before work begins. A lot of people are unsure if they should give their builder money up front

The issue of payments falls under the contract administration of the project. It may be an idea to use a Contract administrator for dealing with the payment side of the project. This will have several benefits. Firstly it means that an experienced professional will be involved to support you. Secondly it will take the personal element out of any disputes with your builder

The issue of money can produce very heated situations. As a result it can quite easily end up with your builder pulling off site and leaving you with a half finished project

The second main issue is miscommunication

You must be crystal clear that your builder knows exactly what he is supposed to be doing

It is your responsibility to make sure he has every single piece of information before he starts

This will include specification documents, drawings, quality standards, timelines and all technical details

If you haven’t given him all this its no good complaining that he is no good or has done things wrong

You will be investing considerable sums of money into your project. However, even if its your first project you must approach it in as professional a manner as possible

That’s why it’s a good idea to sign a contract with a builder. So if there is a dispute you can refer back to the contract

You should document all communications with your builder by email at the very least

It is no good agreeing everything like you are 2 friends with a handshake

You may find yourself in a situation where you have a half finished project and you are desperately scrambling around trying to find a replacement workforce with a looming deadline bearing down on you

Even worse you may have paid them more then you should have done for the work they have so far completed. And now you don’t have enough money to finish the job


If you need help with the contract administration side of your project please contact us and we will be happy to help. We have people who are experienced in contract management and dispute resolution










I want a cheap builder


I want a cheap builder. Thats something that a lot of people doing refurbishments say.

And our answer to that is always the same. Why?

Why do you want a cheap builder? Surely you should want a good builder?

Its understandable if you don’t have much money and something urgent needs doing in your home

But if you are reading this blog you are probably involved in property development.

Therefore it’s only natural to assume that you want to complete the best development not the cheapest

With the recent rise in build costs some developers have been tempted to try and cut corners on their refurb project to keep profit levels up

Now obviously you don’t want to waste money but if you want a certain level of quality there is a certain cost

So why should the builder be cheap?

What do you do for a living?

How about you go to work tomorrow and ask your Boss to drop your wages so he is getting you on the cheap?

What sort of developer are you trying to be? 

We would assume that no matter your budget you are trying to complete the best result possible, but maybe we are mistaken

Are you happy to churn out mediocre developments done on the cheap as long as someone buys it? If you are renting it out does it matter what standard it’s done to as long as someone rents it? Are you trying to match the standards of the professionals? Or couldn’t you care less as long as you make some money?

What exactly is a builder?

A builder is a skilled experienced person who is going to add value to your project

The fact that you need a builder means that you don’t know how to do the work yourself

So why should he use his years of experience to do your job on the cheap?

If you need a cheap builder because that’s the only way your project can work then maybe you should have a think about what you are doing and your best move may be to abandon the project

Is it realistic to think he is going to be happy and perform well if he feels cheated?

Do you think you are going to get any input from him when problems arise that you don’t know how to resolve?

Do you think good builders have cheap rates?

Make sure you don’t get overcharged but pay people what they are worth that way you will get the results you want

If you get a cheap builder the next thing you will be saying is my builder is no good

What are the risks with having a cheap builder?

Numerous studies in the construction industry show that when developers are trying to cut costs several things are sacrificed

The first things to go are safety and quality

One of the main causes of delays and extra expense on projects is poor workmanship leading to reworks

A cheap builder is very unlikely to have robust Quality Assurance procedures. Quality Assurance 

has a key role to play in any project no matter how small

Safety must ALWAYS play a central role in any project regardless of size or budget. Every developer must understand and implement the CDM Regs 2015 in their project. This is mandatory and non negotiable. There is a risk that a cheap builder will not adhere to these

Skilled labour isnt cheap and cheap labour isnt skilled

Always remember this. You get what you pay for. As long as you have a viable deal and you have done your preparation properly you will be able to successfully complete a profitable project to a good standard.

We are unanimous in our opinion that using cheap labour is a false economy on a refurbishment project

Instead of trying to cut costs with the labour, concentrate on improving your skills as a developer. That approach will always pay dividends


If you need help with accurate project costing or subcontractor sourcing please contact us. we have extensive experience with projects of all sizes and offer many services











Quality Assurance in a refurbishment project

Many people are not aware of the role of Quality Assurance in a refurbishment project

Quality Assurance is an integral part of all work at the higher levels of the Construction and Engineering Industry

Is it used on smaller refurb projects?

When you come down to the residential sector its different. On projects such as refurbs and HMO’s it is not given the same importance and this can become a problem

Most people at this level of the construction industry have never heard of an inspection and test plan

Most people are not familiar with manufacturers recommendations, British Standards or Building Regulations

Will the builder take care of Quality Assurance?

When they pay a general builder or tradesman to do a job they just assume that it has been done correctly and all conditions have been adhered to. But that is quite often not the case. Some people want a cheap builder so cant complain when they get poor workmanship.

Just because everything looks nice and works as it is supposed to doesn’t mean that it has been installed correctly. If you cant see it , you wont know if a builder has cut corners

If you have had your house rewired do you know if the electrician maintained the correct spacings when he was drilling through the floor joists? Or when he gives you a test certificate do you know if his test meter has a valid Calibration Certificate with it? Similarly If you have had a copper pipe central heating system installed do you know if the plumber has installed Armaflex on all the pipes or glued the corners? Once the floorboards are down you will never be able to tell. The specification document might say that 2 inch ten screws should be used. Do you know if they have used inch and a half eight screws instead?

When is quality an issue?

Quality can become an issue at any stage of a project. A particular thing to look out for is work done on a pricework basis. Quality Assurance goes out the window in these situations. Sometimes people make mistakes or do something wrong and they try to cover it up. Or inexperienced people take on tasks they are not capable of doing properly. When a project is behind and there is a rush to complete on time and then quality can become an issue

What are the impacts of quality issues on a project?

The main cause of delays on a project are quality issues caused by defective workmanship. These can cause additional expense. They can also hold up following work and throw the whole project programme into turmoil. Other work may have to be removed to get to the particular defective item. Contractors may be unwilling to return to site to fix work they have already been paid for. It can delay completion certificates being issued which means the property can’t be sold. In extreme cases it may mean the project has to be demolished.  That’s why its important that you should employ somebody with Quality Assurance knowledge to oversee your projects


We have several experienced Quality Assurance Engineers in our team. We can prepare an Inspection and Test plan for you to oversee the Quality Assurance process. Please contact us for further details. This is one of the many  services we offer