Professionals & Contractors

A guide to employing professionals, building contractors and sub-contractors

Professional Services

A detailed specification will avoid any disputes about what’s included in a contractor’s price. For any substantial construction work an architect and/or surveyor should produce a design and specification for the work required and the materials to be used. If a designer and/or surveyor is not used it is advisable to make a detailed brief together for the contractor to price. The ‘detailed brief’ is a list detailing the requirements and materials to be used.

Check out the Professional Services page in our Design sections to read more about the professional services you may employ and the drawings they will prepare.

Note: any changes to the specifications and drawings may result in additional costs for re-drawing and for structural engineer’s fees.


Sourcing Contractors

One of the most important decisions you are likely to make for any building project is the builder or contractor you need to employ.

The best source of household service trades if through word of mouth. You can gather valuable feedback and recommendations from others from their previous experiences. We have set up a feedback and ratings function on this website which allows you to leave feedback based on your experiences. It also allows you to review the feedback from others. If there is no feedback available and you’ve exhausted your contacts look to the professionals you are employing for the building work. Your designer/architect or builder may provide you with a recommendation.

You need to make sure that the builders or contractors that you are asking for quotations from are experienced in the work you are proposing and that they follow good building practice and responsible behaviour. It pays to gather references from previous clients and if you have the opportunity see how they operate on their current project. How do they treat their client’s property? Is the standard of work to an acceptable standard? Is the site clean, tidy and organised? Do the workers look professional and have a professional attitude? Are they following their legal responsibilities, e.g. health and safety requirements?

Many construction companies belong to industry organisations or associations, a list of these and the logos to look out for are outlined on the Building Organisation and Association page.

It is important to meet with the builder or contractor to discuss the work in detail. Not only can you make a decision on their response to the tender, their knowledge and experience in the work and the price but it will also help you pick someone who is organised, professional, customer focused, trustworthy, a good communicator and someone you feel comfortable working with. Of all the things that can go wrong on a site the majority of the time it is a result of misunderstandings or bad instructions so it pays to have open and regular communications.


Sub-contractors are hired, managed, co-ordinated and paid by the main contractor and are therefore their responsibility, including their tax affairs. Note: If the specialist tradesman is working directly for you they are classified as a contractor. The likes of plumbers, electricians or plasterers are often classified as sub-contractors as they are employed by the main contractor to provide a specialised skill. It may be beneficial to meet the sub-contractors before work starts to run through the detail and discuss any special requirements. You should co-ordinate this through the main contractor.

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