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Self-Employed Builders Checklist

Becoming a self-employed builder can be a tough decision and there are several important things to consider. You can be flexible with the jobs you take on and not have to work for someone else. However, there are no assurances on a regular income, you'll have no holiday or sick pay and will probably have to work long hours.

This is only just the beginning when it comes to going independent and becoming self-employed, so here is a checklist of what you’ll need to know:

How to trade

  • Sole trader: The easiest way to start a business if you're working for yourself
  • A partnership: This is where two or more people run the business.
  • A limited company: More complicated to set up, but separates the owners from the employees.

Finding and securing work

  • Old employers: Go to your old places of work and ask whether they require assistance. You can charge per hour or a daily rate.
  • Self-promotion: Set up a professional website or social networking presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Print business cards and ask to place these in builder’s merchants or local businesses. Make some flyers and go door-to-door in your local area. Put an advert in the newspaper, Yellow Pages or Free Ads.
  • Word of mouth: Possibly the most powerful way of getting work. Initially you may have to do favours for friends or family and provide introductory offers, but if your work is of a high standard, more and more people will hear about it.


  • Bookkeeping: Keeping accurate and detailed records of the money that goes in and out is incredibly important. If you're knowledgeable and confident enough, you can do this yourself, but a bookkeeper or accountant will take care of this professionally.
  • Income tax: Being self-employed means that you are responsible for paying income tax on your earnings. You will need to register as self-employed with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You may even be able to claim special tax relief and allowances.
  • VAT: If your turnover of taxable goods or services is above a certain amount during the tax year, you will have to register for VAT. You will also be able to claim back VAT on expenses needed for the business.


  • Materials insurance: Equipment can potentially be the lifeblood of your business, so any tools or materials you use should be covered.
  • Vehicles insurance: Look at The Co-operative Van Insurance for reputable and extensive insurance options.
  • Public liability insurance: This will provide cover if a member of the public is injured or had property damaged as a result of your work.
  • Employer's liability insurance: This is only required if you employ other people.

Further advice on becoming self-employed is available from the Chamber of Commerce, British Bankers Association and the Citizens Advice Bureau -

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