When to DIY and when to use a builder

Most of us are finding we have lots of spare time at home at the moment and nearly everyone I know is taking the opportunity to get some of those long overdue home and garden jobs started. The jobs can be small like changing bulbs and spring cleaning to larger projects like tiling or installing garden decking. There are also some fun improvements you can make like building a pizza oven, making some interesting curtains or redecorating a room. We have plenty of articles to help you get these jobs completed to a high standard so check out the list below and browser our past articles to remind yourselves of how to do some common DIY tasks. Some jobs are too big or too complicated for a homeowner and will require you to find a decent builder. Check out the section below on how to find and choose a good local builder.

DIY Tips

  1. Build a pizza oven
  2. Build a garden deck
  3. Build a koi pond
  4. Maintain a lawnmower
  5. Clean your microwave
  6. Spring home maintenance
  7. Grouting and sealing
  8. Fit skirting boards
  9. Painting a room
  10. Laying New Turf

What do Builders and Tradesmen Do?

A builder or tradesman create or repair things with different materials, such as concrete, timber, or stone. Although the term is a bit generic, it’s possible to find a skilled builder or tradesman for nearly every project. Here are some of the most common specialist builders that homeowners call upon.

Steelworks & Metalworkers

Working with steel and other metals is a very specialised task which requires expensive and potentially dangerous equipment. Technical knowledge is required to determine the thickness and length of metals that can be used in each structural application and to ensure that welds or rivets are strong enough. Why would you need to use a metalworker? Well for any job that requires metalwork from simple repairs like welding broken gates to constructing bespoke staircases, greenhouse frames, fire escapes, balconies or install structures like mezzanine platforms. Metal beams can also form the frame of a garage, extension or entire building. For complicated bespoke designs, metalworkers will use different computer programs to create drawings and to ensure your project is structurally sound.

The cost of welding and metalwork depends on where you are and how complex your job is but a normal daily rate is between £200 – £600.

Foundation builders

Foundation maintenance and underpinning are both huge potentially risky projects, and they are definitely not a DIY task. It’s crucial to hire a builder who understands how to stabilise movement and knows how to prevent collapsing. Furthermore, builders who work on foundation projects must also know who to excavate soil and handle concrete.

Foundation quotes are notoriously inaccurate. This isn’t because these builders are particularly untrustworthy it’s because it is impossible to know what you will find under the ground until you start to dig. Many builders will quote a standard price for a ‘deep strip foundation’ which will assume no problems are found and often will assume the land is flat. If the area of your foundations is not flat then the cost will go up as there will need to be soil movement and also shuttering. Standard quotes may not include the cost of earth movement and disposal. Make sure you understand what is included in your quotes so you can determine if all the costs are reflected and so you can compare quotes from different builders.

Extension builders

Adding an extension is a great way to create more living space and increase the value of your home. However, these are definitely not straightforward projects so they should not be attempted by a DIYer however enthusiastic! Many experienced extension builders will offer specialist packages for ‘standard-style’ extensions and take care of all the planning, drawing and building regulations. A builder can work with you to create a design that will add value and space to your house. And most importantly, they will have the necessary skills and experience to make sure that the new extension does not have damp or create damp in your existing home or cause ceilings and roofs to collapse!

The prior building planning permission for the extension or conversion will cost from £180 to submit the plans. Inspections may cost as much as a further £550. The cost of the actual extension itself will vary depending on your design, the materials you choose and the complexity of the building work, however, as a guide expect to pay between £1,350 to £1,950 per m2 which increases to £1,800 to £2,300 per m2 London and the South East.

Garage builders

A garage provides additional storage space and gives you a secure place to park your car. Although you can install a pre-made system, it’s usually better to choose a builder who can either make one from scratch or ensure that the kit is constructed on a proper foundation and assembled correctly. Building a garage from scratch in a style that matches your home will give you the option of converting it into living space at a future date – which will add even more value to your home.

Finding A Decent Builder or Tradesmen

But how do you find a reliable builder near you? There are plenty of resources online that you can use to identify local tradesmen with the right skills which provide independent reviews of their work. You also want to check that they have been in business for more than a year and that they are appropriately qualified. Just as an example; this is the result of a search for builders near me in the Cardiff area. You can see that there are three pages of builders listed all with company information and reviews. There is also a summary of important information on each such as if they have public liability insurance or if their ID has been checked. You can find a few who you like the sound of and simply ask for a quote – all from the same website.

Final Thoughts

Many home projects also require plumbing and electrical work. It’s essential to choose a builder who is qualified in all these areas or who can recommend another contractor who does. To ensure you select the best builder for the job, always compare quotes from several tradesmen and ask to see samples of their previous work and speak to their customers. It’s also wise to read reviews or ask friends for referrals. Prior to starting any renovation project, always check with your local planning authority to find out if you need to obtain any permits beforehand.

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