How to Become a Builder

Being a builder and working in construction can incorporate many aspects of the trade - from carrying out small repairs or refurbishments on a private home to being involved in a ground-breaking national project or new development.

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A building contractor may perform the following tasks:

  • Building work – either starting a new project from scratch or completing repairs or alterations
  • Assisting clients with the planning process if they are considering major works which might need planning permission
  • Estimate quantities of materials needed for building projects and order from suppliers
  • Submit tenders, quotes or prices to clients
  • Organise the delivery of materials, making sure timings match with the many stages of the building development
  • Project manage the work, including liaising with subcontractors to ensure the schedule is being stuck to and to check the standard of their work
  • Manage the activities of everyone involved
  • Talk to lawyers and financial institutions on matters relating to loans and contracts for building projects

Qualifications to become a builder

A modern apprenticeship is the most common way of gaining both the experience and qualifications needed for skill-based trades. This way you can get on-site practice as well as a college education, where you will work to achieve NVQs/SVQs, Key Skills/Core Skills and a Technical Certificate.

For the majority of apprenticeships, applicants (in England and Wales) should have GCSE grades A-C in Maths, English Language or Literature and a science resistant materials technology or equivalent to GCSE or GNVQ intermediate.

The benefits of becoming a self-employed builder

There are many benefits of becoming a self-employed builder, for example, your income may be higher than when you were employed. This is because you could be running more than one project at a time and you will be directly benefiting from the profits from the project. Our freelancer take-home pay calculator can give you a rough idea of how much tax you would be paying and ultimately what your take home pay could be. Other benefits include being your own boss so you can choose the hours you work and the projects you take on.

Finding work as a self-employed builder

Building yourself a strong client base is fundamental to your success as a builder. The easiest place to start finding clients is through family and friends. Explain to them what you are doing and ask them to ask around their friends to see if they know of anyone that needs any building work done. You could offer introductory rates or discounts to friends and family to encourage them to promote your business amongst their social or professional circles.

However there is a limit to how many people you know and how many people your friends and family know, and you don’t want to limit your client base to people you already have a connection with. Setting up your own website, either using a free service and doing it yourself or hiring a web designer to do it for you, can be an ideal way to attract more clients. Include details of your qualifications, any testimonials you may have from previous clients and photos of work you have completed to give people an idea of what they can expect from you.

Another option is to approach local estate agents and ask if they would recommend you to their clients buying homes who may want improvements done on their new property. Some agents may deal with lettings for their clients and have an approved list of tradespeople to carry out repairs and maintenance on the properties they manage, and this can be a lucrative income stream for you if you can show yourself to be reliable and thorough.

You can even target houses with ‘For Sale’ or ‘Sold’ signs and drop in a flyer about your services. People selling their houses often choose to have remedial work done if their property isn’t attracting as much interest as they were hoping, and new owners often want to get any building work out of the way as soon as they move in, so both could result in more business for you.

It is vital though on any communications you hand out, whether it’s a flyer, a letter or a business card you include your full name, mobile number, office/home number and your address. It’s only fair if you know where they live, that they know where you live. It can stop them wondering if you are a rogue trader or a genuine honest builder, as they will know where to find you which adds a strong element of trust.

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