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Top Tips - How to pay a builder safely

When hiring a builder for your building project, the first step is to choose who you're going to hire. You can read more about how to decide here. Once you've decided, you'll need to work out how much you're going to be paying them and how. This can be tricky as all builders are different and they'll likely want some money before they've started the work. These 5 tips will help you decide on the best way to pay them, without getting into disputes or getting scammed.

    1. Create a formal contract

Create this together with your builder so that you’re both clear on what you’re agreeing to and when it's for. Set realistic deadlines for each section of work that needs doing and confirm how much you will pay for each part as it’s completed. Make sure the contract is very simple and clear, with drawings of what needs to be done. A good contract will provide protection for both sides and prevent any disputes to do with the work being done at a later date.

    2. Pay your subcontractors

There are two types of subcontractors, ‘labour-only’ and ‘supply-and-fix’. Your labour-only subcontractors will often want to be paid at the end of the week, and if not given the money they might abandon and jump ship to a different job where they’ll be paid weekly, so make sure you’re clear on their expectations up front and that you’ve made an agreement you’re both happy with. A supply-and-fix subcontractor will usually expect payment when the project is completed in full. Use a safe payment method like Shieldpay, who'll protect both sides in any payment and help you out with any disputes in case something goes wrong.              

    3. Try not to pay too much upfront

Even if your builder needs to buy lots of materials for your building work, you should be cautious about giving them cash in hand to pay for it up front as they could easily run off with the money and you could never see them again. Organise a payment schedule so that you can pay them in instalments as the work is done (you can also do this using Shieldpay). By creating this schedule, with both sides agreeing to it, you should avoid any disputes about how much they are getting paid and when.

    4. Keep it professional

Although it’s likely you'll be on a first-name basis with whoever you employ, keep it fairly business-like in the early stages to avoid making the builders think they have you for certain. It’s also often the case that the contractor you know personally is more pricey than others, which is usually because they feel that you’re a done deal so they don’t need to be competitive on price – so make sure to ask around.

    5. Be flexible, stay calm

Remember that when carrying out building work, anything is possible. There is a whole lot of issues that can pop up along the way, so remember to stay calm if things start to take longer than expected. Unfortunately things that you can’t control, like the weather, can affect how long it takes for work to be completed or can put building work on hold completely. At the same time, you don’t want to be taken for a ride so keep an eye on how much work is getting done, but remember to be reasonable in extreme cases if there are delays out of your contractor’s control. If you feel like you’re being taken for a ride, ask around and get a second opinion on how long your job should take and whether any delays you’re experiencing seem legitimate – if they don’t, have a calm conversation with your contractor to resolve any issues and get back on track with the project moving at pace again.


Shieldpay protects both buyer and seller in any transaction so that you can deal with anyone, anywhere with total confidence.

How do we do it? We verify the identity of both sides, funds are held securely in the Shieldpay vault and only released when both sides agree they’re happy. If anything doesn’t go to plan, we help out with any disputes!

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