The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

How to arrange building work

There’s a first time for everything, including hiring a contractor!

At some point in their lives everyone will go through this process; looking for a plumber, electrician, joiner or general builder in order to help them fix, replace or improve some part of their home. For many it can be a difficult process – how can you be sure you’re hiring the right person for the job? How can you make sure you start off on the right foot?

Read on below for our tips on best practice when arranging home construction work.

Tables of Contents

What does each type of tradesperson do?

First things first; you need to contact the right person for the job you want done. In some cases it’s obvious who to call, but below are some examples of less common or well known activities of select trades:


Joiners work wood to fit a range of uses inside a building. This can be staircases, doors and windows, but can also be fitted or even freestanding furniture and other wood fixtures inside a house. If you need floorboards, roof trusses or stud walls installing you may instead need to contact a carpenter.


Plumbers will work on any water or waste pipes to and from the building, but will often have experience with boilers (check if they are listed on the gas safe register) and other gas accessories.

Some plumbers can fit bathrooms, tile floors and even install lead flashing on roofing, so be sure to ask what they are experienced in if you have a variety of work you need to get done. Be aware that for extensive tiling work you may be better off hiring a dedicated tiler.


Whilst building walls is the most obvious for bricklayers, they are often also able to repair chimneys and also fit/reinstate stonework. For elaborate stonework consider a stonemason.

Window fitter

These days window fitters are called upon for a range of upvc and vinyl fittings such as windows, doors, conservatories and glazed curtain walls. They can replace old ones or fit new ones, and will likely be able to repair existing windows and doors.


Consider an electrician for any wiring, lighting or appliances including electric ovens (which may need a dedicated circuit installing for them to run on). You can also contact electricians regarding solar panels or electric vehicle charging points, although you are likely best contacting specialists for these jobs.


Whenever you have cracks, gaps or holes in walls, or if you need a smooth surface laying over existing brickwork you can call a plasterer. They can often do this for interior or exterior walls, and are able to add decorative touches such as coving.

Should I get multiple quotes?

You should absolutely get multiple quotes, as quotes will vary from one contractor to another based on their experience, workload and running costs. Home improvement quotes can vary significantly from one contractor to another, but they all give insight into the way that particular contractor works. You should look out for the following when obtaining quotes:

  • How easy was it to arrange a quote/obtain a quote with the contractor?
  • Did they take the time to carry out a site survey and discuss the work with you?
  • How quickly did they send the quote to you, and was it clearly and logically set out? Does it cover everything you would like done?
  • Did they listen to your requirements and make suggestions to improve the end result or save you time and money?
  • How did you feel about the interaction from start to finish? Did the contractor seem professional, engaged and trustworthy? Were there any red flags?
  • How much experience do they have, will they be doing the work themselves or using someone else?
  • Are they a member of any chartered bodies/contractor associations? Do they have all the necessary industry accreditations to carry out the work?
  • How did the final price stack up to other quotes from other contractors?
  • What payment options do they offer, and at what point will payment be required from you if you choose them to carry out the work?

Note that you shouldn’t just take the cheapest quote; the quote process helps to highlight unforeseen costs or issues that you may not have thought of, and also as a way for you to judge which contractor offers the best value, meaning the highest level of service, experience and finish for a reasonable cost, not just who will work for the least amount.

Engaged professionals will often be able to suggest cheaper or more efficient ways to achieve the result you are after, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice. It’s a good sign when someone listens to your requirements and feeds back options with the benefit of their experience and specialism.

How do I decide who to contract?

Use the quote process as a way of meeting and discussing the work with a variety of professionals, and pick the person who you feel most comfortable with. This stage is crucial to avoid disputes and complaints later on- if there is clarity between you and your contractor from the beginning then there is much less room for misunderstandings or problems later on.

What to do before starting building work

Save the quote/scope of work

Once you have found the right contractor for you and obtained an itemised quote/scope of work document which you are satisfied with, make sure you keep this document safe. You may want to print it out and store it somewhere secure, or create a folder on your computer containing all documents relating to the work.

Estimates vs. quotes

  • Estimate An estimate is a tradesperson’s best guess as to how much a piece of work will cost. The final cost may be more or less than was estimated.
  • Quote A quote, quotation or ‘fixed estimate’ is an agreement to carry out the work listed at a fixed price.
Be sure to confirm with whoever provides the estimate/quote that they understand this to be the case as well.

Confirm insurance and trade organisation status

You should also ask your chosen contractor to provide copies of documentation showing that they hold appropriate tradesman insurance, in addition to making sure they are industry certified. You can ask for certificates or in some cases check online, as is the case with gas engineers or registered electricians, for example.

Tell your home insurer

Your home insurance policy likely has terms and conditions relating to building work, so making them aware of the work and its expected duration will save you problems down the road. They may draw your attention to sections of your policy, or request additional information from you in order to update your cover. In some cases you may need to pay for increased insurance coverage during the work.

Keep copies of everything

Lastly, you should be keeping records of all correspondences between you and your contractor in addition to quotes, certificates and other relevant documentation. If they inform you of changes or delays mid-work, you can request that they email these to you, or simply email them confirming what they have told you.

Having a clear record showing that you have properly vetted your contractor, in addition to documented evidence of agreements, discussions and changes to the original plan is another step which will ensure that you avoid serious disputes or cases of ‘he said, she said’ later on.


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.