Local builder seeks to help raise construction standards

Posted on 05 February 2015 by editor

A local Birmingham builder is seeking to help raise the construction standards and reduce the number of individuals suffering from cowboy builders by increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge of building standards and workmanship.

There is no doubt about it, the industry suffers from cowboy builders and rogues who seek to capitalise on naive and unaware consumers who simply rush into choosing a builder.

“The problem is, not enough people understand good workmanship and what makes a good builder,” explained David Vidgen. “We rely too much on recommendations and referrals, from individuals who simply are not qualified to determine whether a builder has done a good job or not. What’s more, it often takes time for problems and construction issues to come to light, and by this time you have already praised the builder.”

“What consumers should be be doing is arming themselves with some building standards knowledge and go and check out any prospective builders previous work for themselves. Good builders work to high standards, and these standards can often be found by simply looking at a wall. There are some very simple checks, such as checking to see if joints (perpends) are aligned and straight, if joints are full and appropriately finished (joints should not have holes, cracks or concrete bulging from the joint). Another simple way to determine a builders standard is to look at the wall and see if there are issues with colour banding. Colour banding is where you get patches of the same shades of bricks clumped unsightly together in walls; this is caused by using the same pack of bricks instead of alternating and selecting bricks from several packs. When you construct walls and houses you will need a large number of bricks that come in many packs. Each pack often carries slightly different shades of bricks, so to avoid colour banding in walls, you should select bricks from all packs as you progress. A poor builder ignores these guidelines and as a result you end up with unsightly walls.” states David.

“Another very simple way to determine quality of workmanship is to look at the mortar joints themselves, have they dried to be the same colour? Too often we can see walls and houses that have been constructed, but little care has been taken by the builder to ensure that the ratio of sand and cement is consistent throughout the build. Otherwise you end up with different colour mortar every 5 or 6 courses of bricks. Any good bricklayer understands the need to ensure that the cement is mixed to the manufacturers specification, and by applying these rules you also ensure that the mortar joints dry the same colour throughout the build. If you are having a house extension, care should be taken to try and match the existing brickwork and mortar colour. A good builder will perform ratio tests before they commence to ensure they get a good colour match.”

“I’m not saying that references are completely useless” explained David, “they are useful to determine if the builder was clean and tidy, punctual and carried out the work to the agreed schedule with no surprise invoices or requests for money. I also recommend that you don’t just inspect their most recent work, ask to speak and inspect the workmanship that was carried out some time ago (2 years or more). This is to see if problems arose over time.”

All of these recommendations and lots more useful advice to help you find a good local builder can be found on David Vidgen’s website at www.davidvidgen.com – the purpose is to ensure that few individuals instruct the wrong type of builder and they get high standards of workmanship.

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