How to start out as a self-employed builder

Builders will always be in high demand. Their skills are essential to commercial construction projects and residential renovation, and there are many potential ways that you can specialise.

While it is rewarding to work for a company, going it alone can be even more fulfilling. If you’re planning to start out as a self-employed builder, follow this guide to setting up your business.

Know your trade

First and foremost, you must know your trade. The best way to explore the many aspects of building is to join an established company for some first-hand experience and to learn from experts. You can do this through an entry-level apprenticeship or as a first job following a relevant degree.

It is also advisable to take relevant building courses to improve your theoretical knowledge too. These are important no matter your level of education. Practical skills and an awareness of key principles are needed to meet the minimum requirements for a professional builder’s licence.

Create a business plan

Once you have enough experience under your belt, you can begin to create a business plan.

Evaluate your product offering and any unique selling points of your company such as value, niche skills, and location. You can then work out where you fit in relation to the existing market and how you can set yourself apart from competitors.

Don’t overlook the important legalities of setting up your own business as well. Even if you are just working for yourself, you will still need to register as a solo trader and follow rules relating to the naming and running of your business.

Understand your finances

Understanding your finances is essential if you are to be successful in your business venture.

Those who are self-employed have to track profits and expenses and declare these in an annual tax return. Monitoring your earnings and outgoings is also vital to ensuring that you remain profitable.

You will also need to calculate and pay mandatory social contributions such as National Insurance and Income Tax.

Look into insurance

As skilled tradespeople, builders are in near-constant demand and your business is bound to be lucrative. However, construction is a hazardous industry, and it is important to prepare for the possibility of unexpected incidents as well.

Financial protection such as builders’ insurance acts as a safety net in the event of theft, damage, and injury to yourself and others. Bear in mind that there are a choice of policies for builders, and you may need a combination of several to fully cover your new enterprise.

Buy your equipment

One of the final stages in setting up as a self-employed builder is buying the necessary equipment. Chances are you will already have a range of tools if you are contracted with a building business, but make sure that your kit covers all eventualities.

As well as checking your tools, don’t forget other equipment that might be crucial for carrying out jobs. These range from a simple stepladder to a vehicle big enough to transport your gear from A to B. Make sure to invest in quality Personal Protective Equipment too.

Explore marketing

Finally, explore your marketing options. Online marketing might involve building your own website or setting up social media accounts. Having a digital platform is a great way to record reviews and emphasise your experience and values.

Offline marketing is also beneficial to make yourself known in your local area. Stick up a poster in your local Post Office and hand out business cards door-to-door. Word of mouth recommendations can be one of the most rewarding ways to grow your business, especially in the early stages.