Study reveals how long it takes to get a good builder for home improvements

Property owners in the UK need to plan up to seven months ahead if they want a successful home improvement project by a quality builder, according to new research.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has already revealed that consumers should expect to wait at least four months’ for a quality builder to be available but a new study shows that when this period is combined with the length of time various home improvement projects take to complete, owners will have to wait a lot longer.

It says that it is seven months for an extension, six and a half months for a loft conversion,
five months to paint the entire interior, five months for a new bathroom or kitchen, five months to convert part of a master bedroom into an en-suite, five months to convert a cupboard under the stairs into a downstairs toilet and just under five months to remove an internal wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner.

‘A successful building project requires careful planning and our research gives clear guidance to consumers on likely timelines. Not only do home owners need to consider how long a project takes to complete, they also need to remember how long they should expect to wait for a quality builder to be available to get going on their project,’ said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB,.

‘If homeowners want to work with a good builder, they should be expecting to wait at least four months and as a general rule, the larger the project, the longer the wait. When looking to appoint a builder, alarm bells should ring if they say they can start next week. Experienced and professional building firms are booked up far in advance and it’s always worth waiting for these firms if you want a stress-free experience and a quality finish,’ he explained.

He pointed out that it means if someone wants a new extension fully completed in time for Christmas 2019, they should be contacting builders for quotes by May at the very latest. If they want a new kitchen installed by the start of the summer, they should be getting in touch with builders now.

‘We’re urging homeowners who are keen to crack on with their renovation project to start getting in touch with prospective builders as soon as possible. We always recommend that homeowners ask for recommendations from family or friends, and ideally from those who have completed a similar project to the one you’re planning,’ Berry added.

He explained that if no personal recommendations are forthcoming, approach a professional trade association like the FMB is the answer as new members are thoroughly vetted, and their work independently inspected, before they’re allowed to join.

‘This gives consumers assurance that they’re working with a quality building firm. Refurbishment projects don’t come cheap and it’s worth protecting yourself as much as possible to ensure a positive experience,’ said Berry.

The FMB recommends asking for references from the builder’s previous clients and if possible, speak to them directly about the builder, to always use a written contract and never pay for the whole project up-front. If a builder is reluctant to use a contract, and demands a disproportionate amount of money up-front, alarm bell should sound.

‘Professional building firms do not work in this way. In the longer term, we need to end the cowboy builders’ reign of terror once and for all. Currently, anyone in the UK can set themselves up as a builder and start offering their services to consumers and this is why there are so many dodgy outfits. We’re calling on the Government to introduce a licensing scheme for builders so that consumers know that all building firms have a basic level of skill, competence and professionalism,’ Berry concluded.