before hiring a builder, understand these 8 things:

Firstly, let’s acknowledge how important it is to hire the right fit for you in terms of a builder. They need to match your expectations, be able to deliver your home, and for most people, they will be building a home that they will live in for a long time – which means you need to get it right.

So, hiring a builder can be daunting and sometimes a little overwhelming.  There is a lot riding on it!

This being the case, we thought we would put together a quick list of some important considerations:

1. Check their licenses with a building authority

We should be able to assume that a builder is licensed but, sadly, it is not always the case. Make sure you check out your local authority and search to see that the builder you are looking to hire is in fact registered to undertake the work AND they haven’t had any suspensions, etc.

You can do this on the following sites:

New South Wales:  https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/services/business-industries-and-employment/building-and-construction-industry

Northern Territory: https://nt.gov.au/property/building/build-or-renovate-your-home/check-if-your-builder-is-registered

South Australia: https://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/find-a-licence-holder

Tasmania: https://cbos.tas.gov.au/topics/licensing-and-registration/search-licensed-occupations/find-a-licensed-tradesperson

Victoria: https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/

Queensland: https://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/

Western Australia: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-and-energy/find-registered-builder

2. Check the inclusions of your quote!

Now we know this sounds easy, but checking that you have apples with apples is not an easy undertaking if you haven’t set up the tender framework from the beginning.  Quotes will be submitted with anything from a single line item to a comprehensive list of inclusions and exclusions. It is then your job to weight these tenders on price and inclusions, assigning a monetary value to the exclusions.

Our advice here is to get ahead and run the tender so you can make these comparisons. (Running a tender to get the best quote is actually an art form in its own right! And whilst we LOVE doing tender reviews and frequently provide guidance for our BuildHer’s we know that this may or may not light up your life).

However, investing time in understanding how to tender, running it comprehensively will pay off in real $. Communication is key and the build can become tricky fast, if its foundations and understanding of inclusions are not clear from the outset! If something doesn’t add up, they might not be the right fit for you.


3. Build timing frame

Time is money, and if you are living out of your home then the construction time will equate to real $.  If you need to rent for an additional 3 months, because one builder takes longer then this can add significant cost to the project but also, may cause additional stress.

However, some builders stick to their schedules better than others. They also take on different numbers of projects at one time and have different staffing levels. You need to choose one that fits with your expectations and understand how they operate. 

To mitigate the cost of delays a build contract has a term ‘Liquidated Damages’ in this clause there may be an amount payable by the builder for running late on their agreed contract length, this incentivises them to stick to the timeframe.  The flip side of this is they can have client side liquidated damages, where if a client causes a delay they are able to claim a $ amount per day or week. This is to protect the builder in case their client struggles to make timely decisions or there are underground works which are unforeseen, etc.

4. Referrals and Recommendations

You really do want to make time to see some of your builders previous work AND speak to a number of their clients. Now, we know that if someone is giving out your number they will likely say nice things, so you want to be a little systematic about how you ask questions, and what you are looking for.

Ask your prospective Builder about the last 5 project they completed. Understanding the scope of works, size and timeframes. You can then select which of these clients you would ask to speak to. This allows you to circumvent some of the handing over only the happy clients and you should get a more realistic understanding.

Please remember that building is stressful and tricky. If a client tells you x was really good on finishes, but slow, you can make an adjustment to the time you think they will be on site in your comparisons.

Here are some questions to ask past building clients, after you confirm the scope of works and the value:
  1. What was the timeline of the build?
  2. Are you happy, and why or why not?
  3. Are there variations, what caused these?
  4. What lessons did you learn?
  5. What would you do differently next time?
  6. If you had to give me one piece of advice hiring x, what would it be?


5. Do a background check!

Every different type of build you do you learn different things. If you are always working on French Provincial style homes you will have and great understanding of their features and finishes, but you will also have a list of suppliers and trades that are tried and tested for that type of build.

Builders can build in many different styles, but there is a learning curve associated with each different material and detail. So you may find it safer to build with someone who has demonstrated their  competency in your genre – or who can talk about how they would do it.

Some questions to ask:
  • How long have you been building?
  • What other types of builds have you been doing?
  • What are you passionate about?


6. Understand what the build will look like practically!

If you look inside yourself at the way you manage and handle stress, deadlines, projects and life in general you will be able to better find the best match for you! Actually what you bring to the table is incredibly important…

  • How much time do you have?
  • Are you a planner?
  • Do you want to be on site all the time?
  • Are you anxious? Etc.

The answers to these questions will help you get a clear picture about whether of not a builder will be a good match for you. Different people have different styles and this relationship is one that will be put under stress of time and money and require great communications right from the beginning.

Some areas to think about:
  • How they manage their meetings, communication and information flow? Does this suit your style? How much time will you have to make decisions?
  • Who will be on site, and who will you talk to on a daily basis? Or will you be talking to some one daily? Do they like to provide weekly or monthly updates?
  • Are you allowed on site? If so when?  
  • How do they like to communicate, is it phone email, during hours or after hours?
  • Have you ever had a dispute?

 7. Contract type and involvement

Building means many things to many different people. Some people will have an architect manage the build and others will build to lock up and then hire trades in a Blended BuildHer model. The type of contract needs to fit your expectations and involvement and clearly stipulate responsibilities! This is a BIG topic and you need to have good understanding about how you want to manage the build team. To be able to contract in and appreciate manner, thinking about potential PC or PS’s and how open you have left yourself to change and potential variations!


8. Handover & process

Finally we come to the handover.

Interestingly, this is the part of the build which is so often rushed! Builders want to finish, clients are pushing to move in, there are permits to be gotten and your eagerness and tolerances with living through the build process are stretched.

However, often times it is the rushing of this scenario that causes problems. Builders let owners take possession before they are ready and a process isn’t followed. Our BuildHer’s understand this process and how badly it can go if you haven’t managed it! So you will need to understand how the handover is managed. What documentation do you receive? When will the defects appear, what are the contract terms? All of these items need to be considered!

In this blog we have identified some of the key areas to get the discussion going, but there are others considerations such as contacts and insurances.

Building is a super exciting time! It is an opportunity to create the home of your dreams and a relationship with your build team like no other. They are crafting the home which you will spend your time. That’s why it’s so important to find a builder that is the right fit for you.

Most of us don’t ever have the privilege of building once let alone many times, so our top tip would be learn ALL that you can as knowledge is power! If you want to have a free 20 min chat to us about your build and some pointers we might have for you please reach out Here

Perhaps you’ve already found the right builder for you? If you’re interested in Developing for profit click Here to speak with Rachel.

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