Cowboy builders and cowboy clients!

How to get on with your builder


If you need help and advice with regard to structural surveys, building surveys, engineers reports, defects reports, including things such as cracks, dampness, condensation, foundation problems, etc, home buyers reports.  Please free to phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

find a good builder

find a good builder

Residential Building Surveys and Home Buyers Reports

We are independent surveyors, so we are not linked to or owned by an estate agent or lending institute, and as a result we are only working with your best interests in mind.  Since we are solely surveyors, we can keep our overheads down and ultimately our prices as well.

We offer quotes on the surveys and we can usually save you money on the cost of the survey.  We carry them out quickly and we feel the quality of our surveys are one of the best on the market.  We offer a reasoned view, based upon our knowledge and experience, we don't make a mountain out of a molehill.  Equally if we think the property has problems we say so in a clear, jargon-free manner.  We also use sketches, photographs and digital images to clarify what we are saying.

Having a survey carried out on the property that you intend to buy will give you the extra peace of mind that you are buying the right one.

Property Related Disputes

We  provides advice on property related disputes.

We deal with many types of dispute and are happy to help on any issues we can.  We always take a common sense and practical approach to dealing with these matters.


find a good builderWe get asked many questions and as surveyors and builders we can answer most of the questions about structural problems, dampness problems, or woodworm and wet rot and dry rot, but one question that we can only help you with if you actually have one of our structural surveys or defects reports is where can I get a good builder from?  This is because we would be more than happy to recommend one or go out to tender depending upon the size of the work (as long as we are supervising the work).  However for those of you reading this article that haven't had surveys carried out by us we thought we would offer the following advice.

Large building projects, where do I find a good builder?

find a good builderWe will start with large building projects because the answer is easier.  For larger projects, or projects that need drawings carried out to get Local Authority Approval via the planning office and Building Regulations, we recommend that you employ a professional property person.  There are many that are able to carry out this job and we would always recommend someone that is qualified and to check that they have suitable insurance, and as we are building surveyors we would recommend the use of a building surveyor, or a builder, to run and manage the job.

What qualifications to look for

The qualifications to look out for are MRICS or FRICS; these indicate that the persons have had both property education and a period of in the profession training and have then been examined again and, what is more, they also have to carry on what is known as lifelong learning, i.e. they have to keep up to date with the changes that occur in the building world.  Equally, MCIOB or FCIOB are good qualifications, as is FBEng, as part of an associated building engineer's qualification.  With all of these you do need to speak to the person to make sure you get on with them and also check they really do have the qualifications and the experience that you wish.

No wonder building projects go wrong

We were recently at a day course where a person wanted to know if there was a week's course, or something similar, to enable them to run and manage a building project.  It still surprised everyone in the room that it is still generally thought that building projects can be run by anyone and that when they go wrong it is always the builder's fault, rather than the client.

We would refer you to Jeff Howell's excellent series on TV on Channel 4 called “Don't Blame The Builder” and the website.  This gives excellent examples of worst case scenarios of where everything has gone wrong with the builder.  This is why we have entitled the next section working with your building, rather than working against them (or thinking of them as a paid slave!).

Working with your builder

find a good builder

Where the project is smaller than £25,000, or you decide that you want to risk running the project yourself (because it is a risk), let us look at your typical concerns when employing a builder.

Will the standard of work be what you expect (even though ironically in most cases you have no technical knowledge to know whether it has been carried out correctly or not)?  You can only really make a judgement on the finish and you need to know that they will work to the time scales agreed and to the price agreed.

Will the builder offer good value for money?

Will I be able to sort any problems out should they go wrong?

Now let us look at the builder's concerns.

Will the client have realistic expectations, i.e. on the standard of the work, based on the price they are prepared to pay and the ease of access, etc.

Will the client pay promptly? The last thing a builder wants is a badly paying client. It has been said there are as many cowboy clients as there are cowboy builders!

Generally most builders want the client to be pleased at the end of the job and recommend them, as every marketing person will tell you, recommended word of mouth work is by far the best way of marketing.  As most builders have very little marketing skills word of mouth is normally the way they get the work.

Builders and urban myths

Builders always take longer to carry out the work than they say they will do.  However, there is often a great deal of pressure from the client to get the work carried out very quickly and the builder, being only human, bows to this pressure and gives the best possible time and normally does his best to try and meet this time.  However, things can, and do, go wrong.  With the best will in the world building projects can get side tracked and unfortunately, or fortunately, it is only on the TV programme “Changing Rooms” can things be completed in a weekend and we are certain they don't last that long!  A good job quite simply takes time.

Quality of builders work

find a good builderIt is true to say that the building industry does suffer from quality problems, but equally clients suffer from selective memory.  They never seem to remember that the builder priced at one price and then they negotiated the builder down, whilst still expecting the same quality.  Please remember that a builder has to make a living wage, some are on very good wages but most earn fairly average wages for a very hard job.

We would quote Oscar Wilde: “some people know the cost of everything but the value of nothing”.


This is often where the entire building job breaks down.  Can the builder be trusted to carry out the work he says he is going to?  Can he be left in your property?  Is he reliable enough to tidy up to an agreed standard? Etc, etc.  Often this is where everything breaks down and where the trust between the builder and the client disappears.


Whilst everyone wants a bargain and something for nothing, in reality builders need to make a living the same as everyone else and it is not the greatest living wage, particularly when you consider the conditions that they often have to work in.  Where people want someone to carry out the work to a good standard, in an agreed time, make intelligent choices when things change or go wrong, as they often do with building work, then you do need to pay a living wage.  We would be far more specific and say that cups of tea and a bacon sandwich can make or break a project and affect the quality significantly!

You may be interested in these other articles:

It is important to remember where builders come from

Estimating Building Costs

Definitions of Building terms

Loft Conversions

Help from Independent Building Surveyors

If you need help and advise with regard to structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, dilapidations home buyers reports or any other property matter please call 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.  Please note we are independent surveyors.

If you have had a project go wrong you may want to visit our sister website and for Dilapidations Help then please visit our website.

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have included is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the website are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions.  Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision

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