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Builder’s contract in Cambridge

10 essential points to consider in the contract and terms with your builder

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With any project, no matter what size, there are a lot of factors that need to be carefully considered before any work can be undertaken, but heading the list of essentials is the contract.  Our recommended scuseme builders each have on average over 30-year experience, working in the Cambridge area.

  1. The contract

    A conversation isn’t enough. Get a contract whatever the size of the project as it protects the parties involved.  If not, you could end up regretting this when the work that was supposed to take two days isn’t completed after two weeks.

  2. A physical address

    Get all contact details including mobile and landline numbers. Why not drop off the deposit at the physical location listed on the contract? Then should you need to contact your contractor after work has begun, you’ll know where to go.

  3. Licenses and permits 

    The construction industry is controlled by a variety of regulations and the requirement to hold specific licences or permits to legally carry out certain types of work. Your contractor should inform you of the ones you’ll need eg: builders skip permits, scaffolding license.  Equally important you must be confident that your contractor complies with building, construction and health and safety regulations. Ask to see all their certificates.

  4. Insurance

    Injuries can occur on a construction site. If the location is your home and your contractor does not have the proper insurance, you may be held liable. Check that your contractor has the following and get policy numbers and call the insurance companies to verify coverage.

  • Public liability insurance
  • Employer’s liability insurance
  • Contractors’ all-risk cover (a third of builders do not bother with this, which could land you with a huge bill.)
  1. Scope of work

    There are a lot of factors that need to be carefully considered before any work can be undertaken. So, work with either your architect, surveyor or design and build company produce a very detailed plan that will be the central point of reference for everyone involved in your project. Try to think of as much as possible at this early stage as changes will affect the costs and deadlines, sometimes significantly.

  2. Duration of work

    Make sure the contract covers, start and finish dates and if you’ve agreed on a daily rate, the number of days the work will take and how many working hours are in a day. Delays do occur, some caused by the client and some outside the contractor’s control.  Confirm what the contractor will do about them, for example, on large projects liquidated damages could be arranged with failure to finish by the completion date.  This should represent a genuine estimate of the likely cost of delay to you, eg: the cost of renting.  And if you are responsible for the delay, you need to give an agreed extension of time, otherwise the completion date in the contract becomes redundant and instead of having to finish the work by a specified date, your contractor will plan to complete it within a reasonable time.

  3. Exclusions

    A good contract should include a list of exclusions. These might be related to areas that will not be visible until the walls are opened after demolition including the likelihood of finding asbestos behind the walls or the true condition of services and foundation once the ground is excavated. You should speak to your builder to help you plan your contingency budget should any of these situations arise.

  4. Materials & subcontractors

    Make sure the contract covers who pays to buy or hire materials and equipment. For things that the contractor buys make sure you are given all receipts and paperwork.  Find out in advance if, and when they’ll use subcontractors.

  5. Payment schedule

    While payment schedules can vary by the job, they should always be agreeable to both parties involved. Your contract should cover when and how you’ll pay. Aim to pay by card and pay in stages.  Why not consider making payments tied to milestones in the project rather than those tied to percentages of completion?  Try to avoid deposits of upfront payments but if they insist, pay no more than 25% or offer to buy the materials yourself instead of paying a deposit – that way, at least you own the materials if something goes wrong.  Always get some protection for your money.

  6. Warranty

    The standard warranty for work is one year from substantial completion. You can also buy an insurance-backed if the contractor offers it but check exactly what’s covered before you decide to buy one – it should cover the cost of finishing or fixing the work if the contractor does a bad job or goes out of business.

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