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The currant VAT threshold for businesses to start charging VAT is £85000 turnover so if the builder does not charge VAT this either means he does not carry out many jobs or he is probably illegally hiding some of his business income, these companies often want cash payments which affects you in 3 ways   1, You have no proof what you have paid   2, If he has insurance and an accident happens you or him will no be covered    3, It basically means they are dishonest and unprofessional. 

I always provide a detailed price breakdown document this always has a deposit payment but then is based on works completed, An invoice is always produced to keep everything above board and safe for everyone. These payments need to be paid via online banking.