The four most common (and expensive!) building mistakes first time buyers make

Thinking of buying your first property? Tempted to invest in a doer-upper? Before you spend a penny on it, read the four most common (and expensive!) building mistakes first time buyers make.

It is not uncommon for first time buyers to seek a property that needs some renovating. Within the last month alone, the search term “fixer upper” has seen a 230.2% uplift, reflecting property buyers desire to obtain a premises that is an investment as well as a home.

As many first-time buyers consider buying a ‘fixer upper’ to get on the property ladder, many are adopting DIY tasks for the first time. Here, building and construction expert Thomas Goodman at  MyJobQuote presents the most common building mistakes that first time buyers make.

1) Researching tradespeople

Once you have decided on the work you want to do, the next and most important thing to do is choose the best tradesperson for the job. Whether you need a painter or an architect, the right person for the job can make your life much easier yet choosing the best possible tradesperson can be difficult, with 40% of people in the UK admitting they have had a bad experience with a tradesperson. 

Firstly, you must check prospective tradespeople’s accreditation. If they themselves, or the company they are registered to, do not have any sign of legitimacy then that should be a red flag.

Look out for certification from the National Federation of Builders, Federation of Master Builders and TrustMark and ensure all plumbers are Gas Safe Registered. In addition, find the company number and registered business address. If they can’t give you this, then best to avoid this business.

If you find halfway through the job that the tradespeople you have chosen are not delivering the job which you agreed on, then there are ways to rectify this. Speak to the tradespeople and try and put the problem right. If they are reputable then they will work to sort out any issues or potential misunderstandings as early as possible. Communication is always key.

If, however, this does not solve any issues, or in other circumstances of unprofessional behaviour or mistreatment, then contact the Citizens Advice Bureau. CAB will look through evidence and inform you of anything you are entitled to.

2) Taking the ‘cheaper’ option

The saying “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is” can, unfortunately, ring true in many building circumstances. When choosing a builder, you should shop around and get around 3-5 quotes from different companies and compare them all directly.

If you find, say, four of the five are within similar price ranges, but one is much cheaper, then you must try and resist temptation in booking that company straight away. Research more about the company, the tradespeople and read reviews about them.

More often than not, the much cheaper price can reflect the quality of work, or not be inclusive of all the labour required. If, after substantial research, you still feel as though the cheaper company may be the best, then it would be worth asking them outright why their prices are so low. A reputable company will be able to offer a cost breakdown and explanation to support their pricing strategy.

3) Setting an unrealistic budget

Everyone loves a bargain and there is no better feeling than getting something for a lot less than expected. However, when it comes to building work it’s important to set a healthy budget for your building costs, as opposed to an optimistic one. Two in five house renovators overspend their budget by an average of 20%, and this is something which can easily be avoided by planning prior to starting the work. 

Before starting any work, you should itemise all the costs involved and also, ideally, include a bit extra in case of an emergency. By doing this, you are avoiding yourself being halfway through a job and finding yourself out of money.

4) Buying the wrong building materials

To save money and avoid company or tradesperson mark-ups, many renovators opt to buy materials themselves, from materials for structure to paints and carpets to podium steps. While this can be a good way to save a bit of money, buying your own building materials requires extensive research and a solid understanding of the work which needs to be done.

You must also purchase the right amounts of the materials and ensure they arrive in good time for the builders. A risk with this is that if your materials do not arrive in time, when the tradespeople turn up so they can’t start work, they will charge you a ‘standing time’ and leave. You will then need to pay for them to turn up another day, which means more money will be spent than you originally planned.

If you know you can get supplies cheaper and they can arrive correctly and on time, then there is no harm in doing this, however if you are only doing this to save money, then you would be better off in allowing your tradespeople to buy the materials themselves. This will also be one less thing for you to worry about.

Rushing in (and changing your mind halfway through/realising something doesn’t look as good as you thought)

Once you have moved into your home, it is easy to become too excited about potential plans and wanting to rush and get everything completed as quickly as possible, however rushing in can result in improper work and you may change your mind a realise something doesn’t look as nice as originally imagined.

44% of home renovators said they were unhappy with the results of their work, which is estimated to be worth £4.9 billion in wasted money. If you change your mind soon after, then not only is that a waste of money, but you will then end up spending more to change the design, resulting in you definitely over-spending.

Prior to starting any work, you must take some time to think the plans over and discuss with builders what will work logistically and aesthetically. A reputable builder like John Munro Builder will be honest and tell you whether your ideas will work on a day-to-day basis, and not just look nice. Changes in aesthetic is less detrimental than changes to structure and floor plans, however the cost of aesthetic work can still cost a lot more money.

Photo by Nolan Issac