Choosing The Right Builder

Are you planning to build your own home? Perhaps you’re looking to renovate or extend your existing home. Either way, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is choosing the right builder for the job.


By doing your homework and seeking advice, you’ll have a better chance to avoid a cost blowout as well as getting quality construction work done.


Getting Advice

We’ve heard the stories, whether it’s been an amazing experience or the renovation nightmare. By asking your family and friends who have previously hired builders to construct or renovate their homes, you may hear some positive stories to inspire you for your project. You may even receive recommendations or advice on how to choose the right builder for your job.


If you’ve engaged an architect or building designer they may also have recommended builders and contractors they work with and whom they know will do justice to their designs. Checking with your architect or designer is a great place to start.


Choosing The Right Builder


1.Licences and Insurances

Whether you’re going through a home builder, designing your own home or undertaking renovation works with assistance from an architect – it is important that you choose a builder who is licenced, registered and insured.


Be wary of builders that either refuse or don’t make it clear upfront that they are legally permitted to be undertaking the works required. Some builders’ licences may have expired or in the worst case, have been revoked but they are still working in the industry. Do your research and check with the Building Authority that the builder you’re considering is registered to undertake the type of work you want completed.


In Victoria, for all building work over the value of $16,000 the builder must have Domestic Building Insurance. You can check online if your builder is insured by visiting the VMIA website.


2.Experience and Skills

Hiring the right person for the job is important. If you’re wanting to build a new home, it is important that you choose a builder who is experienced in building from start to finish. It is equally important that if you’re wanting to extend or renovate an existing home that you choose a builder who understands the complexities of renovations and extensions.


You should check out the builder’s previous jobs. If you can, arrange a walk-through of a home they’ve already built. Visiting display homes is a good option for new homes, but otherwise consult with the builder to see if you can view one of their previous projects. You could even consider consulting an engineer or surveyor to walk-through the property – it could be worth the cost if you’re serious about choosing the right builder.


If you get the opportunity to speak with any of the builder’s previous clients, do so. Ask about how they found the process – you’re more than likely to gain a balanced opinion of the builder’s skills, in particular how they communicate and how efficient they were during the construction process.


3.Make Sure You Don’t Get Ripped Off

When you’re spending money, you’ll be happy you did your homework.


By understanding building plans, you’ll gain an overview of the construction process, but the plans won’t give you a full breakdown of what’s involved. To gain an understanding of the full breakdown of works, it is recommended that you put together a Tender Package with help from your building designer or architect. The Tender Package, should include:


  • The Scope of Work: An outline of the work required by the builder. Make it clear to the builder where you’ll be doing any of the works yourself or if you have already arranged sub-contractors for any of the works.


  • The Building Plan: Plans of all the works to be undertaken, include engineering documents and soil tests. The builder needs to know exactly what’s involved and what you want to see in the completed home. It will also help them to figure out the total costs of materials and labour, as well as the timeframe to undertake the project.


  • The Building Schedule: This should include all the materials, fittings and fixtures you want for your home. Be as detailed as possible to avoid a cost blowout. Even consider including photos and links to particular products.


The Tender Package will show the builder exactly what the job entails and what you expect to see in your final home. The builder should then provide a fully itemised quote showing the materials and labour costs throughout each stage of the project.


You should get at least three quotes for the same plans or Tender Package and then compare them. Remember, that the cheapest quote may not necessarily be the best. Check the pricing on actual finishes, and keep in mind that you don’t want to cut corners and compromise the final product.


The Next Step – Contracts

So you’ve decided you want to proceed with a builder. What’s the next step? In Victoria, for all building work valued over $5000 including materials and labour, the builder will need to be a Registered Building Practitioner and they will need to produce a Domestic Building Contract.


By law, a major domestic building contract must contain certain information, including a checklist of important things you should consider before signing the contract. All consumers should seek legal advice prior to signing a building contract. If you are satisfied, the building contract should be signed and the project can commence.


It is essential to maintain good communication with your builder or tradesperson throughout the project – make sure you choose someone you can work well with.



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