How to Employ Builders Like a Pro: 16 Essential Questions

Few decisions have a greater impact on your money than selecting a builder. How can you be certain that you are identifying and choosing the ideal builder for your project?

The secret may be to ask the proper questions of the prospective builders.

However, what questions should you ask a builder while requesting an estimate?

In today’s post, we will guide you through the main factors you should consider when selecting a builder in Dublin, so that you can be certain that you are working with a safe, dependable builder throughout the building process.

You will discover the most critical questions to ask while searching for and hiring a reliable builder. Follow these simple steps to ensure that the construction business you hire will complete your project safely, professionally, under budget, on schedule, and with the desired outcomes.

So let’s start with the first question…

Is the builder you intend to hire a limited liability company?

Initially, some builders are registered as limited liability firms. Have you thought about why?

This indicates that there is a degree of distinction between them as enterprises and as persons. It functions to safeguard and legitimise the builder and your interactions with them.

It also makes it easy to review their previous work. You should establish that no claims have been filed against the company in the past five years, so that you may be confident in their track record and reliability. Make no doubt about it.

Does the builder belong to any trade associations?

Simply said, trade organisations are organisations for members of certain professions. It is a wonderful approach to convey fresh knowledge regarding industry-specific practises, policies, and other matters.

Obviously, you should inquire if your potential builder is a member of a trade association, determine which one they belong to, and then check with the trade association that they are active members.

Many people are unfamiliar with the construction sector; thus, consulting with specialists is a wonderful approach to guarantee that they have current information and expertise.

Want more information on how to avoid hiring a cowboy builder?

Keep reading…

Does the builder’s team include a licenced gas engineer and an electrician?

You could look at this and conclude that you won’t need a gas engineer or an electrician because you’re not having any gas work or rewiring done, respectively. Does this sound familiar?

In reality, it is still a good idea to ask this question when selecting a builder, as contractors frequently encounter unforeseen complications while working on projects, and having ready access to an expert is a wonderful way to ensure that any possible problems are resolved. Let me state this clearly:

Ask your builder about their whole staff, including any in-house engineers, and confirm that they are all members of approved trading schemes and trustworthy, dependable individuals. You cannot give them a substantial amount of money and access if you do not trust them.

Does the builder have a site manager who can oversee the construction?

We’ve already mentioned that you should meet the staff before hiring anyone, but the site manager should be your first priority. You should see how they engage with you and communicate with your architects from during the construction process. How can this be?

The site manager will oversee your construction project, so he or she should have a broad grasp of construction management and be able to keep things running smoothly, efficiently, under budget, and on schedule.

To put it another way, the site manager should be someone you can rely on in an emergency, should something go wrong.

Does the builder employ technical support personnel?

It is not always feasible, depending on the size of the organization, to know everyone who works for or with your builder. Nonetheless, it is vital to get an understanding of how many employees they employ and who they work directly with, including the technical and support personnel.

Ever question why?

It is essential to know who to contact for paperwork, questions, and billing, as these individuals typically work in administrative capacity at the builder’s office and you may not see them every day.

You may request their resumes (similar to the on-site crew) if you so like. Otherwise, it should suffice to know who they are and what they do. Additionally, you should have their phone numbers or email addresses in case you need to contact them.

Does the builder you’re choosing provide a guarantee?

We want for things to go swimmingly. What could possibly be more crucial?

The questions presented here are a wonderful place to start! However, it is also essential to get a formal guarantee that will be honoured by an insurance firm established in Dublin. So, if the firm ceases operations for whatever reason, you will be covered.

Again, be cautious, and if you’re afraid that your builder won’t be able to complete the project, look for an other contractor. However, an insurance-backed guarantee is also a vital backup.

In a word, if you want to prevent cowboy builders and reduce the likelihood of difficulties and extra expenditures, we propose that you hire your architect to serve as your contract administrator and construction inspector.

This implies that your architect will make regular site visits and continually supervise your construction to ensure that the work fulfils your requirements and goals.

How long has the builder been in business and what is their relevant experience?

There is nothing wrong with employing a fresh builder, and there is no assurance that those with years of experience would be excellent. However, if someone is new to a job or organisation, it is advisable to ensure that the rest of the team has greater expertise and that there is a backup plan in case something goes wrong.

For instance, you might ask them if they have worked on structures similar to yours to ensure that they have the necessary expertise. Again, ideally they will have completed comparable tasks in the past, but if they haven’t, make sure that at least one team member understands what to do. You should also request a portfolio of past work, but we’ll discuss that later.

Have the company’s directors ever dissolved the business before?

We all know that businesses can fail. Debt accumulation, stagnant economic growth, or any of a million other circumstances may necessitate the dissolution of a company.

It’s not the end of the world if you learn that the director of the firm you’re considering to recruit has previously disbanded, but you should investigate.

  • Did they abandon incomplete work or steal money from clients before disappearing?
  • Were there protracted and challenging court battles?

However, the silver lining is that defunct businesses are not necessarily a red indicator, albeit they should not be ignored either. If it has occurred several times, exercise extreme caution and consider utilising a new firm.

Does the builder have the required insurance?

  • If someone is injured or property is destroyed during construction, the insurance company will compensate you for the resulting inconvenience.
  • Employers’ liability insurance is mandatory for all enterprises (not just construction firms) that employ workers. It implies that if an employee gets hurt or becomes ill on the work, the insurance company will compensate them.
  • All-risk insurance for contractors is the most essential insurance since it protects your property and any third parties. Let me be clear: you should never choose a builder who lacks Contractors’ All Risk Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

We are all aware that insurance is always crucial. We hope that nothing goes wrong, but this plan is in place just in case. If a costly error occurs, you can file a claim against the builder, and their insurance will cover the cost.

When choosing a builder, you must verify that he or she has all three types of insurance coverage. Verbal confirmation is insufficient; they must give copies of the insurance certificates and proof of premium payment.

If they cannot (or refuse to) accomplish this, you should not work with them. This is a deal-breaker: uninsured builders can put themselves and you in a great deal of danger.

Does the builder have a current health and safety policy?

Obviously, it is in everyone’s best interest for there to be a safe atmosphere where insurance is not utilised. When meeting with your builders, it is essential to confirm that they have a complete set of health and safety protocols and fire safety regulations.

You can have them fill out a health and safety questionnaire, and you should express any issues you have so that they can be addressed and resolved.

A word of caution: construction sites may be hazardous, so establishing clear regulations is a smart approach to safeguard everyone and ensure that nobody is placed in danger.

Did the builder demonstrate genuine interest in your needs?

In general, you must be able to get along with your builder. You should be able to trust them since they should care about doing a good job. Discuss the budget, the quality of the job, and the anticipated duration of the project.

Have some backup plans in place, since things may not always go according to plan, but it’s imperative that nothing falls apart at the first sign of trouble.

In reality, your building is a valuable asset in which you may have to live or work, so ensure that it is well-constructed and up to your standards. Consider how comfortable you would feel discussing any difficulties with them.

Good builders should be enthusiastic about their work and love their employment. In response, you should feel excited about receiving something new and desirable. Remember that you are working for the same objective, and that you need an ally.

Can you obtain two or more recommendations from the prospective builder?

Let’s examine what they’ve done in the past! Builders are no exception to the rule that prospective employers inquire about a candidate’s strengths and flaws from prior jobs.

The best course of action is to request a portfolio of the builder’s prior projects and then call former clients to inquire about any problems with the work’s quality, pricing, timeliness, or environment.

Importantly, you should also consult with the architects of the previous clients, since they would have a better understanding of what occurred or was intended to occur.

Finally, search online for builder reviews. Pages such as Google Reviews and Yelp should serve as a solid starting point.

Can you receive a formal estimate that includes a set price, a breakdown of the work to be performed, the materials the builders will use, and VAT?

You may be wondering what questions to ask a builder when requesting an estimate. You are not alone!

Start by requesting that your builder provide a written estimate or pricing proposal. Verify that their company name, company address, company landline number, company registration number, and VAT number are included on their estimate once you have received it.

The majority of builders are eager to provide quotes. However, what’s the catch?

Fixed Cost versus Estimate

Estimates are an excellent starting point, but builders are not compelled to adhere to them; thus, you should settle on a definite price before building begins.

Imagine working with a builder who increased the building prices in the middle of the project. You will be engaged in an eternal war…

Essentially, your written estimate should include a definite total price and a description of the work to be performed and the time required to complete it. Sometimes an estimate is really an educated guess, so you may wind up spending more and exceeding your budget.

Verify that the total price is not an estimate and that it contains a breakdown of the labour to be performed and the materials utilised.

Material Cost

Before choosing a builder, have your architect review the cost of the building work so that you may resolve any difficulties beforehand. Determine the cost of the supplies, who is purchasing them, and where they are coming from. and the items they will use!

Here is another way of looking at it: Some builders may be able to obtain items at wholesale prices from wholesalers; however, you must ensure that you have stated this and that the items they are procuring meet your specifications.

the breadth of work

Here is where the majority of individuals fail… This is quite a task for those who have never completed a building job.

Ensure that you comprehend the contents of the quotation. If you are uncertain about something, consult a resource or your architect. The paper defining the scope of work will be lengthy and will be reviewed by the builders and the architects, so if at all feasible, meet and go through it together.

Especially with regards to materials, architects and builders will need to have a clear understanding of what is required and what will be used. They should be forthright about this from the outset, so that you do not under- or over-order.

If you are completely pleased with all of the materials, confirm with your architect the scope of work, planning drawings, timeline, list of requirements, tender drawings, and building regulations drawings. This will also guarantee that you completely comprehend what is included in the builder’s estimate and that you are familiar with the procedure as a whole.


Secondly, confirm that the price includes VAT. Currently, the VAT rate in Dublin is 20%, therefore ensure that this is clearly outlined to avoid under-budgeting.

Ensure that everything is clear so that if there are any tax concerns, you have a clear record of what you paid. You must also verify the VAT number, since shady builders have been known to fraudulently utilise phoney ones.


And if they give a guarantee, which they should, it should be in writing, and you should ensure that it will be honoured by an insurance company located in Dublin in the event that the builder ceases operations.

The importance of resolving this matter goes without saying. It’s not the most enjoyable activity, but it will save you a great deal of headaches and worry, so it’s well worth your time. Approach this like you would a contract: everything must be spelled out, and any ambiguities must be clarified.

This protects you and the builders, allowing you to begin work on a stable foundation. Keep a copy for your records, and provide a copy to the architect and builders.

It all boils down to this: Be aware of builders that refuse to put their pricing in writing!

Does the builder employ a RIBA or JCT Building Contract?

It is common knowledge that you will want a contract with your builders and architects. RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) or JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal) building contracts should incorporate this type of information (price, materials, schedule).

Don’t forget that your architect or a contract administrator should also oversee the construction contract. Ask your builders why they won’t put anything in writing. This should be seen as a potential warning indicator. There is no doubt about that.

The majority of construction contract templates are not legally binding. Always use either the RIBA Building Contract or the JCT Building Contract, regardless of whether you’re employing traditional or design-and-build procurement.

Is the builder you’re hiring able to begin work quickly?

Remember that you are paying these individuals, thus they must adhere to your timetable. If they have really useful advice, such as avoiding outside work during the winter due to lower daylight and a higher likelihood of inclement weather, it’s worth your time to listen, but if you want your building work finished quickly, it’s best to locate a builder who’s ready to begin.

Also, ensure that the start date is included in the contract to avoid misunderstanding. Try to be flexible with your timetable, but don’t let the builders define what occurs based only on their convenience: you’re in charge!

Can architects do project management duties?

Simply said, there should be a minimum of two managers. The site manager, who works for the builder, may administer the day-to-day operations and plan some of the work; and the project manager, who should be your architect, will oversee the whole project.

The project manager (your architect) should also be present for contract administration and construction inspection monthly or biweekly. This is the secret recipe!

In this way, if anything goes wrong or if any of the building’s components are broken or defective, you will learn about it from an unbiased source that can inform you quickly and has a great deal of specialist expertise.

Alternatively, you might receive advice selecting a builder.

If all of this seems overwhelming, remember that tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds are depending on this decision, so you must make the proper one.

But you may obtain assistance with a portion of it: you can ask your architect to conduct a bidding procedure to help you select the finest builder from the builders.

If your architect is credentialed and registered, then their professional status is contingent on their association with other organisations with such high standards.

The bid process should accomplish the majority of the work, ensuring that the builder is qualified for the task and has committed to doing what you want, rather than what is most convenient and profitable for them.

And if your architect is able to continue offering their services as contract administrator and construction inspector, you will have the confidence of an impartial professional assessing the quality of the job the builders are performing. This will significantly reduce your stress levels.

Discover How OsHolding Can Assist You

We recognise that choosing a builder and initiating a new project may be a period that is hectic, expensive, and stressful. You will want to know that both your builder and architect have your best interests at heart.

At , we have a team of architects and project managers with extensive construction knowledge, and we can assist you have the finest experience possible and obtain a building you’ll adore.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance with preparing your project for construction, such as initiating a bid procedure to select a builder or performing construction inspections.