Taking the on the challenge of building your own new home is a big decision, but not nearly as big as the decision of which builder to entrust with your biggest asset. Before you do, there is crucial steps you need to take for choosing a quality builder to help you make an informed decision and hopefully avoid big major building blunders.
1. Get Solid references
This your biggest gauge on whether a builder is trustworthy and reputable. People are usually scathing in reviews because it is easy to type negative press from a keyboard. Do a google search of the builder you are interested in contracting and see what comes up. Now, obviously we know that all the reviews won’t be glowing, because stuff happens but see if there is a common trend or something that is just too bad not to ignore.
2. Look at builder’s display homes
The display home is a good indication of the quality of work you should expect. Look at paint quality, fittings and fixtures and overall structure. Be mindful though, this is always going to be their best work, so also talk to the representative at the display site and make sure you get a solid list of inclusions and exclusions as the display home will usually have all the bells and whistles.
3. Check complaints from Fair Trading
This is a good place to see what action has been taken against a builder. Something of a more serious nature will most likely be referenced here. You will need to check the register relevant to your state as each state has their own legislation.
4. First impressions
Speak to the agents, builders, reps and even their contracted tradesmen if you can. First impressions are usually right. If you don’t have a good feeling or they are slow at responding before you have signed on the dotted line, chances are they won’t get any better once you have signed and paid.
5. Level of detail they provide
The more detailed information you can get the better. If you have a question or are unsure on something, ask now! Never assume something is going to be included and don’t take someone’s word for it. Get everything in writing so you are covered if you need to refer back to it. Read their list of inclusion thoroughly and make a note of the exclusions. Look at your existing house and see what is there and make sure you are getting all the essentials included. Make a list on non-inclusions and factor this into your budget. Things like clothes lines, letter boxes and even window furnishings are most the time not included unless you are building a “Turn-Key” house and land package. Also check the site allowances and make sure this will cover the work required to build on your site. Rock excavation, tree removal etc. are all expenses that may not be covered.
6. What service do they offer
Look into what services they offer. Do they offer an interior designer to help you with colour selections? Are their inclusions bargain basement or are there brand names in their packages. e.g. Appliances? Are they easily accessible if you need them, a builder that has an office that is open every day is going to be a lot more convenient for you.
7. Maintenance schedule
What after sales service do they provide? Will you be able to contact them after your house has settled with any issues or will they disappear? Seek reviews from others that have built with the builder you are considering and see how they have found the after sales service to be. This can sometimes be the deciding factor in choosing a good builder as inevitably, you will have to call on them at least once. Experience tells me anyway.
8. Warranty Procedures
What is included in your builders warranty? Most builders will have a standard builders warranty which will include things like structural repairs and will likely be for a length of time, say 7 years. Workmanship will generally be a lot less and this does not factor into wear and tear or misuse. Appliances will also have a standard warranty with them, usually 12 months. If you are after a longer warranty, enquire as to whether this can be included.
9. What is their quality assurance policy
Most builders will have a quality assurance policy where they promise to deliver the highest quality service and product. Again, seek recommendations and reviews on this to make sure the builder does keep to their word and strict on maintaining their level of quality throughout the whole term of the contract and beyond.
10. Regular suppliers and trades and who are they
Make sure you can see who they will be contracting to work on your house. What flooring company do they use? Do they have a regular electrician and plumber they have used for years or do they tender to who is available at the time? Make sure you can look into the tradesman that are going to be working on your house and also make sure they are all fully qualified. This may sound silly as surely they all have to be qualified, but you don’t want the qualified electrician sending the apprentice to your job so he can do another. Visit the site intermittently so you can see your tradesman at work. Look at the house during the building process so you can see how it is coming together for example, check the electrical work before the plaster walls go up so you can see the wiring for yourself. This also helps you to know where the wiring is for later on when you want to make changes or even hand a picture!
Building is a challenging time, but the rewards and joy when you see your completed house are beyond exciting and choosing a quality builder is key.