The good builder isn’t a myth. You just need to know what to look for to find them. You can always ask for recommendations but, remember they are subjective. Online searches bring back hundreds of results, but you need to know how to spot the reliable ones. Cowboy contractors cost the UK economy £10bn a year, according to estimates by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). So, how do you find a good builder? Learn the warning signs and positive signs.

Things to look for in a reliable builder


Builders are legally not required to have qualifications or formal training. However, some do have credentials.

TrustMark is an accreditation you can trust. It is a non-profit, government-endorsed quality scheme. They ensure their contractors abide by the ‘Framework Operating Requirements for Scheme Providers’ also supported by the Code of Conduct and Customer Charter.

FMB is the UK’s largest construction industry trade association, and members are professionally vetted and independently inspected to make sure they follow conduct guidelines that deliver high standards.

Builders also have individual qualifications such as a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) and National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in construction that point to their training and qualification.

Plumbers and electricians need to be Gas Safe Registered and have Competent Person Scheme registration, such as NICEIC or ELECSA.



Another method to find a reliable builder is to look for recognition in the form of trustworthy awards. Look for where they were featured in, such as magazines, top websites, and review sites. It isn’t compulsory, but it is an example of the quality of their work. However, it also means you will be paying above-average rates.



Good builders are often fully booked months in advance. They also do not rush into a job. It takes time to draw plans, wait for planning permission, submit building control applications, and prepare method statements. If the builder is available to start work immediately, it means they are under-booked or have no regard for the time each project takes. You might experience delays, poor practices, budget overstretch, and low-quality work with such contractors.



Take a look at the builder’s previous contracts and finished work. While it gives you an idea of their skill level, it also provides you with references if you want to personally find out what it’s like to work with them. You can make a phone call to their clients or visit the site to learn more about the project and the process. Make sure to look at their most recent work, as it gives you a better idea about their current team and their creativity and craftsmanship. You can test durability and quality by visiting sites of their past work. Sometimes you may need a specialist company and not a general builder. See whether the builder has any areas of expertise. Make sure they have been around at least a decade.



It is a two-way street. Both you and the builder must have insurance that minimises risk and secure you and them from accidents. Prevent the risk of huge costs, court proceedings, and legal fees, and damages with the following insurance.

Public Liability Insurance – If someone gets hurt on the worksite or your property gets damaged, this insurance covers your builder to protect their business against claims to cover damages and legal costs.

Employers’ Liability Insurance – No contractor is legally allowed to work without this coverage. It safeguards businesses against legal and compensation expenses from employee claims. If a builder falls ill or sustains an injury during work, the employer is liable to pay.

Developer Insolvency Insurance – Covers you in the event of your contractor becoming insolvent.



Advance knowledge of exactly how long it takes to finish construction work is crucial for you. It helps you decide how long to rent for and when to move out if you need to live off-site until work finishes. An experienced builder can tell you exactly how long it takes.

No good home improvements can take place without appropriate designs. Builders carry out a measured survey of the property to draw plans. At this stage, you need to discuss your ideas with your builder to come up with a design and an extension type suitable for your home.

Do not settle for builders who cannot go bespoke. It is a sign they can only work with template designs and do not have the skill and expertise to create individual designs.

The next stage will be to secure planning permission if needed. Once your plans receive the green light, they need to translate into more detailed technical drawings per building regulations. You also need to give written notice to your neighbour between 2 months and a year before planning and building on party walls. Work cannot go ahead without Party Wall Agreements.

Find a builder who offers project management. It helps maintain the quality of the work, schedules, and coordination with third-party suppliers.


Payment Plan

A good builder will have a convenient payment plan for you. Never pay upfront. The builder for your project needs to have the funds to upfront the costs and get that money back from you when work is complete. A payment plan based on evaluations is the recommended method. You will pay them a deposit to get started, and the contractor works for an agreed amount of time, at which point your project manager will assess the work carried out, and payment is released.

Your builder has to provide you full cost transparency. When they give you their quote, it should give you a breakdown of the total cost. Responsible builders always stick to the agreed budget and complete projects on time. They should also be flexible enough to iron out snags and make minor alterations before finishing.

Do not let your dream project end in disappointment. Find a good builder to ensure your home improvement experience is a satisfying one. Discover 12 years of expertise in Victorian and 1930s home remodelling with Good Design & Build.

Author: Amol

Amol is an architectural designer and has worked on hundreds of residential projects in London since 2008.Having done his M.Arch from the Glasgow School of Arts he gained valuable experience in London working in the construction industry managing high-end residential projects, before founding Good Design and Build in 2015.You will meet him for initial consultation and work closely with him during all stages of your project