10 tips to help you choose a better builder

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You’ve got the cash together, you’ve got the plans signed off, now you are looking for a builder to help build your dream home. With so many stories of shonky builders out there, how do you know whom to trust?

Do you just pick the cheapest and hope for the best? Do you trust your architect and pick someone they’ve worked with before? If you have never worked with your architect before either, how do you know they will give the best advice? What do you do if you aren’t even using an architect?...

Choosing a builder is a daunting task for many. Very few people renovate their home extensively on a regular basis. Fewer still actually build a new home. It’s a big investment both financially and emotionally. Making the wrong choice can have significant consequences. So what can you do to help reduce stress and avoid budget blowouts?

Here are our tips to help you find a better builder:

1. Make sure you get a comprehensive quote

  • To ensure you get a realistic quote covering as much detail as possible, ensure your architect issues the builder with a Schedule of Finishes alongside your plans. Without this, there is a high likelihood that many important items will be missing from your quote. More experienced builders will make allowances for this, but when comparing builder quotes you will be unable to compare like with like, and risk choosing a quote that escalates as your project rolls out.

2. Find out what is included but also what is excluded from the quote

  • It can be more telling to ask what is not included in the quote. It is a good idea to ask this up front to avoid unwelcome surprises later. For instance, the builder may quote for ‘lights’ leaving you to believe that all lighting is included. In actual fact, light fittings may not be included unless requested and specified by the architect in the Schedule of Finishes (see point 1).

3. Ask for clarity if there is anything you don’t understand

  • Make sure you understand every last detail when comparing quotes. Two vital terms to get your head around: ‘prime cost’ and ‘provisional sum’. Both of these mean that the figure you are looking at is a ‘guesstimate’ or allowance only, not the final figure. The builder should ensure that these figures are realistic, but there can be a huge range in terms of what individual builders term realistic, and this can be an area that builders use to help make their quotes appear competitive. Watch out for a quote with a lot of provisional sums in it as this means the quote has more potential to vary once the project gets going.

4. Look for relevant experience

  • Sounds simple, but if you are looking to build a new home then talk to builders who have experience in building new homes, not ones that mostly work on renovations and extensions. If you were going to play tennis, you’d choose a tennis racket not a cricket bat. Both are bats for ball sports, but it’s a lot more efficient to use the one designed for purpose.

5. Ask to speak to previous and current clients

  • Are there people they have worked with recently that are happy to talk to you about their experience? Can you talk to current clients who are still immersed in the process?

6. Ask to see some of their past work

  • Preferably something similar to the project you are about to engage on. Look at the details and the quality of the finishes, not just the overall aesthetics.

7. Check their insurances

  • Do they have the level of cover they need for your project alongside any others they have going on at the same time? Are you covered if they disappear off the face of the earth half way through the project?

8. Be clear on who you will be dealing with day to day

  • Depending on the size of the company, the person who meets you and prepares your quote may not be the person you end up dealing with day to day. You will spend many months working with your builder, and the success of your project will depend a lot on your relationship with them, so make sure you know who your primary contact is, and that you choose someone you feel comfortable talking to.

9. Don’t assume cheapest is best

  • Building costs add up. Everyone wants to save money where they can. It’s a good idea to get 3 quotes before starting a project so you can get a fair idea of costs, but if one is standing out for being significantly cheaper, be careful that the builder hasn’t taken shortcuts or left things out. You will soon find it to be a false economy as you find yourself paying more for variations down the track.

10. Give Harmony Build a call!

  • We’d be crazy not to add this in as our last and most important tip… If you are looking for an honest, friendly builder in the Northern Beaches, then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today.

Looking for more tips and advice? Then check out this great post from HomesToLove.

If you found this useful, you might like our post on The difference between 'fixed price' and 'cost plus' contracts and which one is right for you

#tips #gettingstarted #newhome #novicerenovator

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