How to find trusted builders in Cambridge – 18 questions you must ask

Trusted builders in Cambridge – how we check them out

People often ask how we vet the builders we recommend on scuseme, so we thought that it would be a good idea to share what we do.  This way you can see how rigorous we are so you too can share in the trust we place in the Cambridge builders we recommend. You may also find the that some of the questions we ask are useful when you hire other tradespersons.

We meet our builders in person

We believe that you get a good sense of someone only when you meet them in person, so we always have a face to face meeting with potential scuseme builders.  Furthermore, because builders work closely with their clients, often over several months, it’s important to make sure we have a good rapport with them and see that they are personable. Therefore you can feel safe in the knowledge that we personally know all the builders we recommend in contrast to many other recommendation websites where builders can sign up without any personal vetting.

18 questions to ask potential builders

When we meet with prospective builders, we have a list of 18 questions that we use to establish their knowledge and competence in all aspects of their business and the local area. Only when they can address every question satisfactorily are they able to sign up.

1. How long have you been in business?  We want builders with at least ten years’ experience

2. Do you operate from a fixed address? A Cambridge area postcode is essential because if you need to contact your builder after work has begun, you’ll know where to go.

3. How much work have you done in the Cambridge area before? Are you familiar with local building regulations? They must provide references we can follow-up.

4. Could you give me the names of some people for whom you have done work, so we can contact them?  They must have an excellent source of referrals.

5. Do you have public liability insurance (PLI) (insurance to protect businesses (builders) against loss due to legal liability for injury or damage to the persons or property of the public)? The UK law states that contractors should have public liability insurance and if they’ve got employees then they are also legally obliged to have employer’s liability insurance.

5. Do you use sub-contractors? Most builders / contractors do, but we ask about the average length of time they have worked for them. Five year or more is great.

7. How are sub-contractors insured? Do they their own PLI or are they covered by the main contractors?

8. Are you registered on the Federation of Master Builders? A useful, but not essential measure of quality of workmanship.

9. Do you belong to any other professional associations?

10. Are you registered for VAT?

11. What is the average number of jobs you do at the same time?

12. How do you manage your jobs on a day-to day basis? A good indicator of project management.

13. How detailed and clear are your contracts? Sometimes we ask to see a sample contract to review to ensure the essentials are covered to ensure a stress-free building project.

14. What warranties are guaranteed for your services and materials that are used?

15. What safety procedures do you follow?

16. Have you had any claims against you under health & safety legislation?

17. Who were your two best customers? Provides an insight into their capabilities.

18. Who were your two worst customers? Find out the reasons behind the project to highlight areas of potential conflict.

We follow-up reviews

Whether your project is tiling a new roof, re-wiring the electrics, redesigning the garden or any other important home improvement work, use these questions to learn everything you need to know about the builder you want to work with.

We find these questions when answered successfully will identify builders who have a strong work ethic, satisfied customers and a vested interest in working locally. Finally, although we carry out our own checks we always recommend that you ask any other questions you need to make you feel comfortable, and in particular, follow up their customer reviews, inspecting their work where possible.

Have you got a building enquiry? Why not send it to one of our personally vetted local builders here

Useful articles:

10 ways to manage a stress-free home improvement project 

Budgeting for an extension in Cambridge – watch your wallet

Four steps to turn your home improvement plans into a reality