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Cost guide: builders

What can you do help take control of the cost of common building projects, such as loft conversions and bathroom refurbishments? Here are some handy tips for planning and managing builders working on foundations, loft conversions and more.

Loft conversion

What adds expense?

With loft conversions, it’s often uncertainty or changes to the original plan that add cost.

"Always get plans agreed with your local Building Control department,” says builder Ben Robson from Derbyshire-based Benchmark Bakewell Ltd. “Never do it ‘off plan’ – get it all agreed, designed, scheduled and accurately priced with detailed drawings and specifications.”

How can I make it cheaper?

Disposal of waste can be surprisingly expensive. “Recycle or burn timber,” says Ben. “Take as much as you can to the tip yourself.”

Help the builders by making access as good as possible. This makes the work quicker and consequently cheaper to undertake. You could consider moving out while all or some of the work takes place.

Foundation work

What adds expense?

Adverse weather prevents groundwork from being carried out. “Don’t be impatient and start external work in the winter,” recommends Ben. “It takes longer, makes more mess and adds considerable cost.”

How can I make it cheaper?

“To avoid expensive waste disposal charges, think of innovative ways to keep the excavation materials on site,” suggests Ben. “You could raise garden areas or create banks, for example.”

Ask your builder to dig ‘trial holes’ to establish where all your services are. This prevents damaged pipes and cables which can be expensive to repair.

Bathroom refurbishment

What adds expense?

“Poor quality toilets and basins are a false economy,” says Ben. “They’re more likely to break down in future, meaning you have to call out a trader to repair or replace them.”

How can I make it cheaper?

Source good quality toilets and basins yourself. “Bathroom showrooms often have sales or sell ex-display goods,” says Ben. “Look on the internet, too.”

Buy British toilets and basins. Even the best quality items can break but, if they come from abroad, getting replacement parts can be difficult.

Provision of welfare facilities for builders

What adds expense?

“Provision of Portaloos, containers and cabins, where necessary, tends to be expensive,” says Ben.

How can I make it cheaper?

“Rather than hiring Portaloos, containers and cabins think of ways to give these facilities to your builder and you can save a lot of money,” says Ben.

He advises "Hire a container and move all your furniture and so on into it. Containers cost as little as £30 to £50 per month. They ensure your builder gets maximum access and prevent damage to your furniture."

Hire a builder in your local area.

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