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Working Together

Beat "Builders' Stress"

CartoonHaving the Builders in "More Stressful than Week with In-Laws"

Improving your home doesn't have to result in contractor chaos - follow a few simple guidelines and get the best from your builder

Having builders in ranks as one of the most stressful times of your life - almost half the population say it's as stressful as arranging a wedding, buying a house, or having a baby - and worse than spending a week with the in-laws.

Top on the irritation list are builders who don't finish on time, ones who don't turn up when they say they will and those who run over budget.

It's not surprising that living with builders' mess ranks as the top cause for stress amongst homeowners. One in three homeowners still try to live a normal life as they share their homes with burly builders who demand snap decisions on where doors, windows and sockets should go, use the bathroom without asking and need a constant supply of tea.

Having a kitchen or bathroom out-of-action causes the biggest problems - with 53% complaining of the stress caused by having no kitchen and 41% saying the same about not having a bathroom.

"It's a massive invasion of your personal space having builders in. It means you have to adjust your private life to fit in with these strangers and this can put real strains on the family," says psychologist Donna Dawson.
"The key is to keep cool, keep talking and keep it friendly."

However there are a number of ways in which homeowners reduce the stress caused by having the builders in - 17% move out, 10% go on holiday, 26% chose a builder recommended by friends and 14% use a written contract.

Asked about other ways of finding solace from the stress, 42% said they would visit the gym or take up yoga, 14% said they would turn to alcohol and one in ten said they would get counselling. Over three quarters said they would employ an accredited builder, such as a Member of the FMB, to keep their stress levels down.

Helpful Articles

Jargon buster

If you don't know your purlin from your pointing, our jargon-busting glossary of builders' terms should help.

Architrave – Moulding round opening such as door or window
Arris – Sharp external angle - usually 90 degrees
Baluster – Alternative term for Banister
Barge Board – Wide board fitted on edge of tiles following the slope of the roof
Bead – Small convex moulding
Bib Tap – Tap fed by horizontal supply - as in a garden tap
Blown or Live – Plaster that has lost its bond with the wall
Bond – Arrangement of bricks to ensure stability of brickwork
Buttress or Pier – Thickening of wall to form a vertical projection to strengthen it
Cavity Wall – Usual construction for external walls comprising an inner and outer leaf with a space between for insulation
Cistern – Tank for storing water - usually located in the attic
Cleat – cable fixing for phone wire, etc
Coping – Protective finish to the top of a wall
Corbelling – Successive projecting courses of brickwork
Cove or Cornice – Moulding around room at junction of wall and ceiling
Dado Rail – Horizontal moulding part way up a wall
Deal – Term for piece of square-sawn softwood
Distemper – Wall paint made from water, pigment and glue (traditional)
Drip – Moulding or groove in overhanging member to prevent water creeping back
Eaves – Overhang of roof beyond wall below
Efflorescence – Unsightly powdery white salts brought to surface of brickwork
Flashing – Metal sheet used to deflect water at junction between roof and wall
Flat Arch – An arch that is almost completely horizontal
Flaunching – Cement mortar filler round the top of a chimney stack
Flue – Tube conveying smoke or fumes from fireplaces or appliances
Flush Door – Door with completely flat faces
Footlifter – Wedge used to lift boards for nailing to wall
Formation Level – The deep point in an excavation for a drive or path
Frog – Indent on bed face of a brick
Gauged Brickwork – Fine brickwork with very thin joints
Gable or Verge – Upper part of an outer wall at the end of a pitched roof
Glazing Bar – Thin bar shaped to receive pane of glass
Gravity Fed System – Central heating system that circulates water by gravity and water expansion
Header – The end face of a brick
Header Tank – Small open cistern (tank) that feeds water to central heating system
Herringbone – Zigzag pattern of brickwork
Hip – Line of adjoining sections of pitched roof at external angle of building
Hipped Roof – Pitched roof, the ends of which are also sloped
Hip Tile – Roof tile shaped to cover hip of roof
Jamb – The side of an opening in a wall for a door or window
Joist – Support for floor and ceiling
Knotting – Varnish to stabilise knots in wood
Lean-to Roof – Sloping roof supported along its highest part by a taller adjoining wall
Light – Subdivision of a window - fixed or opening. Opening light can be top or side hung
Lintel – Concrete or steel beam over opening to support wall above
Loose-Fill Insulation – loose material for insulating cavity walls and lofts
Mansard Roof – Form of pitched roof designed to provide more space for rooms
Megger – Test meter used by electricians
Mezzanine – Extra floor - possibly inserted between floor and ceiling of very tall room
Mitre – Angled joint (similar to joint in picture frame)
Module – Dimensional co-ordination of components
Muck – Brickie term for mortar
Mullion – Upright post in window
Newel – Vertical post at top and bottom of staircase
Nogging – Short wooden stiffeners inserted between joists
Nosing – Rounded edge of a stair tread projecting beyond the riser
Parapet – Low wall at the edge of a roof
Pebble Dash – Roughcast wall finish with stones bedded in rendered wall
Pilaster – Projecting part of a square column which is attached to wall
Pitch – Slope of roof - expressed as an angle or ratio
Plain tile – Rectangular "flat" roofing tile
Plaster – Applied wall finish
Plasterboard – Prefabricated sheets of plaster for walls and ceilings
Plinth – Projecting base to external walls
Purlin – Horizontal beam, part way up a rafter to prevent sagging
Rafters – Series of structural timbers rising from eaves to ridge to support pitched roof covering
Rail – Horizontal member in door or fence
Relieving Arch – An arch constructed above a lintel or beam to take weight of wall above
Render – External sand-cement coating for walls
Reveal – Vertical side of door or window opening
Ridge – Top of a pitched roof
Ring Main – Power circuit for sockets
Rise – Vertical distance between two adjacent stair treads
Riser – Upright part of a stair OR vertical water pipe from the mains
Roof Truss – Prefabricated structural timer framework to support roof
RSJ – Rolled steel joist
Sash – Framework for glass -in particular double-hung sliding sash window
Screed – Layer of fine concrete used to provide smooth surface prior to floor finish
Sarking Felt – Waterproof felt under roof tile battens
Second Fix – Items fitted following plastering - including joiner, cupboards and plumbing/electrical fittings
Sill – Bottom horizontal member of a door or window frame
Skim – Finishing coat of plaster
Skirting – Horizontal board at junction between floor and wall
Soffit – Visible underside of a projecting surface
Span – Horizontal distance covered by a beam or lintel etc.
Spoil – Material dug out during excavation
Stack – Vertical pipe carrying waste from sinks and toilets
Stocks – Hand or machine-made bricks made in a mould
Stretcher – The side face of a brick
String – Sloping board carrying the treads and risers of a staircase
Tarmac – Bitumen macadam coating aggregate for drive/path surfaces
Timber Frame – Type of house construction usually finished with brickwork outer skin
Tread – Horizontal part of a stair
TRV – Thermostatic radiator valve
Voussoir – Wedge-shaped brick used in arch construction
Wainscot – Wooden lining to the walls of a room (traditional)

Working with your builder

Once you have chosen a builder, put your agreement in writing, so both parties have a clear understanding of the scope and cost of the work.

If you do encounter difficulties