Before starting a self-build, it is important to know how to find a good contractor for your oak framed building. Some people will choose to act as a hands-on project manager or even complete the build themselves. However, for many of us, this is not a realistic option, even with a relatively simple timber frame kit. Lack of skills, experience and confidence may hold us back, or other work or personal commitments can make it impossible. Even minor mistakes or oversights during the initial build can have costly or dangerous repercussions in the future. To avoid this, the services of a contractor with the knowledge and skill to complete the job properly will be required.
From the beginning of the project, the contractor should have a clear plan for every stage of the build. Key to this is a clear understanding of the design you have in mind and any pitfalls this may entail. It is important to establish a clear line of communication between the designer and manufacturer, the contractor and yourself. This will keep all parties aware of any potential problems with the project and allow quick and easy resolution. When using oak frame house kits, construction is usually straightforward and simple for experienced builders. With bespoke designs, the builder can warn the designer of any site conditions that may interfere with the design. Similarly, the designer will anticipate areas needing specialist tools or techniques and inform the contractor accordingly.
Locating A Contractor
1. Personal Recommendation / Word of Mouth
Many people have friends and relatives who work in construction and allied trades. If this is the case, ask for their personal recommendations or references for contractors they know. They will be able to provide honest, reliable reports of their work and abilities that can be trusted. Similarly, you may know someone who has recently employed a contractor on a similar project who can pass on their details. They will also be able to provide details and examples of their work and completed projects.
2. Online Searches
There are a number of online sites specifically designed to search for builders and other contractors. The Federation of Master Builders, MyBuilder, Checkatrade and the Guild of Master Craftsmen are all useful for finding local tradesmen. All perform stringent checks on the companies and individuals represented and allow detailed searches for specific trades. Testimonials and reviews from previous customers are included, with details of contractor qualifications and insurance. Once a suitable contractor is found, it is worth viewing their own website for examples of their previous work before making contact.
3. Ask Your Designer
Most oak frame designers will have a network of trusted contractors they have worked with in the past. This previous working relationship guarantees good communication and efficient collaboration. Since the designer will be intimately familiar with the details of your design, they will know who is most suited to its execution. It also guarantees the contractor is familiar with oak framed buildings and the specifics of their construction.
Points To Consider When Employing A Contractor
1. Educate Yourself
As a prospective owner, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the construction of contemporary oak framed houses and structures. If you understand the processes involved it is far easier to explain your needs to contractors before and during work. If any problems arise during the build, these can be communicated to you easily and solutions proposed. This also simplifies meetings with designers, as all parties understand the work involved in construction.
One of the most important factors to consider is your contractor’s experience of working with oak. It is unique as a building material and its behaviour (such as shrinkage) after construction must be taken into account. While this will be factored into the design of the frame, it is vital those erecting the structure are also aware. If not, any early mistakes can have disastrous and expensive consequences in the future. Discuss experience with any contractors consulted before engaging their services. As noted above, it is also important to review the testimonials of previous customers. It can be difficult or even impossible to secure a building warranty if your contractor does not have the correct experience and credentials.
3. Cost And Budget
While oak house kits cost less than bespoke designs of similar size, it is still a costly material. This is unavoidable, but many further expenses can be limited with a sensible budget. Make sure your budget is realistic, stick to it and make sure your contractor is aware of limits from the outset. It is always worth securing several quotes to make sure you get the best deal. However, beware of suspiciously cheap quotes. As ever, if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always pay promptly at each stage of the build to maintain good relations.
4. Working Relationship
Meet your contractor face to face early on and get a feel for the chemistry between you. For the build to progress smoothly, it is important that they relate well to you and the designer. Any construction project comes with its own stresses, decisions and setbacks and good communication, patience and courtesy are essential. A conflict of personalities can easily lead to friction, disagreements and a breakdown in work.
5. Distribution Of Work
Is the company large enough with the appropriate staff to complete all work from beginning to end? If not, is your contractor willing and able to deal with subcontracting or will it be your responsibility? There are many elements to a building project, from groundworks to frame assembly, encapsulation, wall build-up, roofing, service installation and final joinery. If multiple contractors and companies will be required, this must be organised and accounted for in the budget.
At Hardwoods Group, we have many years experience of in providing exactly what our customers need. Communication is key to this and we will happily liaise with your contractors, architects and you to ensure the best result. As suppliers of oak framed buildings, we deal with all aspects of design and manufacture up to the point of delivery. If you are in need of a contractor for any work beyond this point, we can help. We have an extensive network of trusted contacts throughout the construction industry to recommend. Contact us to discuss your latest project, we will be happy to help.