The Builders' Resource and Information Exchange is the website serving the 15,000 members of the Federation of Master Builders and their customers. Although the site is predominantly aimed at the trade, there are several sections offering clear advice and recommendations for homeowners.
The Federation has been criticised in the past for lacking teeth, particularly in the area of new build housing, but the information here is sound. Navigate by clicking on the menus down the left- and right-hand site of the page, or by clicking on the thumbnails in the middle.
Find a Builder is the most useful part of the site for homeowners. The pull-down menu covers many trades, from electrical contractors, plasterers, roofers, scaffolders, to heating engineers, painters, and decorators, bricklayers and carpenters. Fill in your postcode and a list of recommended workers will appear, with their websites if they have them. You can then fill in a form, describing the work you want doing in up to 700 words, your preferred start date, budget, and contact details. How it Works has a wordy disclaimer about the Federation not being responsible if, after receiving your 700-word essay, their members fail to contact you.
For Consumers provides helpful suggestions in Steer Clear of Cowboys to prevent yourself being corralled by a dodgy dealer. Simple Forms of Contract advises on the legal aspect of engaging a trades person. Click on The MasterBond Warranty Scheme to find out how you can insure yourself against disaster. A £5,000 job can be covered for £75, which includes a conciliation and arbitration service if your relationship with your contractor degenerates to such a state that you're both throwing all of the tools out of the toolbox.
The site offers a good selection of links to building-related services. Home & Garden, Architecture, and Property Directories are particularly good.