What every home builder should know
It’s easy to get swept up in flashy pamphlets and portfolios that building companies market to would-be buyers. After all, you’re building your dream home.
However, there are a few simple steps you should take when choosing a builder: a little due diligence goes a long way and can save you from heartache.
Easy homework to get started
Ask your family and friends about their experience with their builder:
- Were they happy with the quality of the build?
- Were there delays in construction?
- Was the builder difficult to contact?
- Was it easy to get answers out of them and did they explain technical terms in an easy-to-understand way?
- Were they quick to respond to changes you made to the building plans?
- Did they make a lot of mistakes?
Go and have a look at the build, the fittings and the finishes. Do they look good or does they look and feel tacky?
After that, contact a building designer or an architect and ask them who they would recommend and whether they can vouch for the builders your friends and family used.
Is the builder licensed?
Your builder should be licensed, registered and insured.
- Public Liability Insurance
- Home Warranty Insurance (Domestic Building Insurance in Victoria)
Double check this info on your state or territory’s relevant stat builders licence search:
- NSW Fair Trading
- Consumer Affairs Victoria (Victorian Building Authority)
- Fair Trading (Queensland Building and Construction Commission)
- Consumer, Building and Occupation Services (Tasmania)
- Fair Trading (South Australia)
- NT Consumer Affairs
- Department of Commerce (Western Australia)
Builders that aren’t willing to provide this evidence should be a red flag.
It typically means that they weren’t licensed in the first place, they were banned from the industry but are still operating, or their licence has only recently expired.
If the builder is in the process of sorting out their licence renewal, that’s ok, but don’t sign the building contract until then.
Check out their handy work, first hand
Ask the builder if you can speak to some of their most recent clients, specifically those in the middle of the build.
You’ll get a pretty good understanding of what to expect in terms of clear communication, mistakes with the building plan and delays.
If these references check out, organise for a walk-through of the builder’s most recent work and, if possible, have an engineer or building consultant join you.
They typically charge by the hour but if you plan to build your dream property, it’s worth it.
Do they have the skills for the job?
Undertaking renovation and extension work is one thing but constructing a property from foundation to frame-up and lock-up is another thing entirely.
Even if they’re a licensed, registered and insured, you’re taking a risk on building your first home with someone that’s new to the game.
If you’re able to, go with someone that has built their own home and ask if you can inspect their property. They will have likely used quality fixtures and finishes.
Conversely, builders that haven’t had experience with extensions and renovations may not have the nuance to “add” to the existing property while retaining the same look and feel that you fell in love with.
The choosing a builder page https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/home-loan-articles/choosing-a-builder/ goes into more in-depth golden tips on determining whether your builder is up to scratch.
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