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Finding the right tradesmen for your self-build

How to find the right builder or sub-contractor

Finding a reliable builder or subcontractor can be difficult but having a good relationship with one is key – after all, they play a vital role in your self-build journey. 

It’s a relationship that goes both ways. Some builders or subcontractors may have had to deal with unfair behaviour in the past and it’s true that many self-builders become frustrated with contractors over-promising, creeping costs, poor quality and missed deadlines. So how do you find the right builder of subcontractor? 

Word of mouth 

Ask your friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. Even if you don't find a general builder to oversee the whole operation, you may be steered towards a trustworthy plumber or electrician. 

Even if they don't know a contractor, they may know someone who completed a successful self-build or renovation who can offer you a recommendation. 

By extension, if you already have a trusted tradesman, they may be able to point you towards another. 

Couple looking at plans

Book ahead 

Like all professionals, good builders are in high demand and may be booked up for months or more than a year in advance. 

So if you do find a highly regarded contractor, contact them at the earliest opportunity. Consider engaging their services in a partnership before the design stage to ensure availability. On the flip side, be wary of builders who are available immediately as this could be a sign of poor service. 

Limit how many contractors you contact 

Getting in touch with just four or five contractors is better than approaching every builder in the area with an invitation to tender. If one of your initial batch doesn't work out, move on to the next. This will help you manage the process better. 


Often, the first impression you get from a builder can speak volumes. If they understand what you're trying to achieve and can work with you to deliver it, you’re off to great start. Just remember to do your due diligence on them too by checking references with previous clients.

Questions to ask your builder

Questions to ask your builder

Once you've found a prospective builder, you want to feel confident knowing they can do a great job.

The best thing to do is to make a list of questions to ask them prior to contracting them.