‘Builder’ is a convenient catch-all term that covers everything from a main contractor at one end of the scale, to an odd job man right at the other.
Hiring a big main contractor to carry out all the work on your property has the advantage of providing an in-built project manager. He will take the responsibility for everything to do with the job, however big or small. They will organise materials, the sub-contractors, building inspectors’ visits, and liaise with your architect, if you employ one. Generally, main contractor has more than one job on the go at a time so, it is a demanding and juggling job to make sure men employed are constantly used and sites run smoothly. The company is responsible for the quality of the work of its sub-contractors, so if anything goes wrong – they should deal with it.
To cover overheads, it is likely to put a mark-up of at least 15% on the cost of the work.
If you are determined to shoulder the project management yourself, a potentially time-consuming and hair-tearing-out job – especially if you are inexperienced – you will be using specialist subcontractors or individual tradesmen.
Specialist companies cover a specific trade and employ several people skilled in this trade. Again they will put a mark-up of at least 15% on the basic price of the work. Bear in mind that even if the sub-contractors have associations with regulatory bodies, such as CORGI (Confederation for the Registration of Gas Installers), NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) or related trade associations, this does not necessarily guarantee recommendation or to follow up references given by previous clients.
There are also smaller contractors who will be able to supply different tradesmen but will not take on the full responsibility of a main contractor. They may well leave dealing with building regulations, the architect’s drawings, ordering materials and suchlike to you. Very often builders like this will have a specialist trade of their own, such as plumbing or electrical work, but they will bring in other tradesmen as required.