Selecting Your Builder

Updated: May 30, 2019


So you've created your dream plans, had them council approved, and now is the time to get your job priced and to commit into one of the most important relationships for your project - the builder! The aim of the game is to engage in a stress free build that sees your budget on track, which can be achieved with careful planning and following these steps;


1. Do your research


You should never select the first builder you come across just because they are available or because they promise they will be able to do the work for less than their competitor. After all, you are about to hand over potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to them so you need to be 100% sure that you can trust this person.


The first step is to create a shortlist of builders. The number one way to select potential builders is through word of mouth from past clients where their work speaks clearly for itself. Ask for references that aren't just their friends or family - it’s important that they’re past customers! Ask to see their portfolio, and if possible, drive by some of their past or ongoing projects.


It should also be noted that upon first interaction you may be engaging with the business owner. It’s important to meet the person who will be your direct line of contact throughout the build as they will be the person who your relationship will be predominantly with. Of course you need to feel as though you have a good rapport & can trust them from the get go as you will be dealing with this person many, many times over the following months.



2. Transparency & Communication


Your builder should never be unhappy to answer any questions that you have, nor should they be reluctant to ask any questions about your vision. It’s extremely important to open up the lines of communication as soon as the builder has been initiated as this will eliminate the possibility of any nasty surprises further down the track - we really can’t emphasize the importance of communication enough! The builder should be able to thoroughly explain anything that is even slightly unclear about the building process - don’t be afraid to ask any questions, no matter how silly you may think that they are.


Look out for red flags early on when selecting a builder. Being too vague, being reluctant to answer any questions or even taking long periods of time to respond to you will all be early indications of the frustrations that lay ahead. Steer clear!



3. Quote - Fixed Price or Cost-Plus?


Hopefully by now you will have created a shortlist of potential builders. Once the builder has a full set of architectural plans, they will be able to provide you with a comprehensive break down of costs. While naturally, you will be drawn to the lowest quote, remember - the lowest quote may not always be the best! What exactly have they accounted for? Have they used significantly lower quality materials than other competitors that are more prone to early failure?


Too frequently, with the intention of providing customers with a low favourable quote, builders may not have a clear list of exclusions that lead to additional costs and potential conflict. Be extremely clear when asking what isn't included in the price that's been quoted and if there is any jargon that is unclear to you, ask! At the end of the day, the last thing you want is to expose yourself to a higher risk of additional costs during construction which will substantially blow your budget.


An alternative contract for building is cost plus. This type of building contract is beginning to be popular as the cost of construction rises. This is a "do and charge" alternative, where the builder charges a lower builder's percentage rather than quoting at a premium, to ensure any unforeseen items are covered in the initial quote. More often than not, the client will end up paying a premium and therefore paying unnecessary additional costs. Every trade & contractor asked to provide a quote with unknown variables will do this; therefore you, the client, will pay a premium at each stage, which can potentially blow out the budget.


When to use a cost-plus contract:

A cost-plus contract might be used when the budget is being restricted

When there is a high probability that actual costs may be reduced

When some parts of the work may be performed or managed by client


At Your Home Designs we can confidently point you in the direction of local builders in Port Stephens, Newcastle and Hunter Regions that we can personally recommend, from both our personal developments and other client projects that have been stress free, on time and on budget! Ask us for our recommendations on builders, we are always happy to help with any questions you might have in terms of design, building and selecting anything you need to finalise your build.

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