If you are planning to build your dream home there is one big thing you need to do before you choose your paint colours, types of flooring, and a kitchen splashback. And that is to choose a good builder.
A construction loan is a big investment and building a home is a big project. Construction is not a simple thing, and building a property is something which requires not only a serious amount of planning and attention to detail, but also the creation of a good working relationship between you the owner and the person (and organisation) who is going to build it for you.
Reliability and quality of work are always critical, but we have created a short list of key areas to make sure you are asking the right questions when it comes to selecting a builder.
Tip #1 - Check for references from previous clients
If a family or friend recommended the builder to you then you can have some confidence they are okay. But if not, a good option is to ask them for references from their previous clients.
You can ask clients about their experience with the builder, the quality of their work and whether the builder constructed the house within the expected timeframe and budget.
A proven track record is always a good reassurance if the tradesperson is the perfect fit for your home construction or renovation project. If the builder can’t provide any references, that can be a huge red flag.
Tip #2 - Request a detailed quote
Budget is another aspect when choosing a builder. Ask for a complete quotation from different builders, so you can easily work out who fits within your budget.
A budget is not only a document which tells you what the price is going to be. It is also something which gives you a good indication at the level of detail the builder has gone to put the pricing quote together.
A lack of detail in a quote can also be a red flag to potential trouble with a builder. As a general rule, ask for detail and itemisation in the quote.
What this means for you is that you will also have to invest serious time and effort into communicating to potential builders exactly what it is that you want.
Rather than saying same thing over and over again, some people put together a detailed document which outlines (often room by room, finish by finish, etc...) the detail around what they want, and then use this as the basis to get a builder to quote.
This 'specification' document can even sometimes form part of the formal building contract between you and the successful builder. Detail and strong proactive communication are key here.
Tip #3 - Go with the one that has the right experience
Builders have different kinds of expertise. You want to hire a licensed builder that has experience in building your chosen type of house.
For instance, some builders are experts in renovating bathrooms or kitchens and some are experts in building whole houses. Some specialise in timber houses while others build predominantly with brick and block.
Before hiring a tradie, make sure that he/she can show you examples of their previous work. Treat these as their resume or portfolio. If possible, ask if you can see their past projects first hand. This way you can get a real feel for their work.
Make sure to go with one that has more experience in building your preferred type of house and construction materials.
Tip #4 - Check for builder’s warranty insurance
Do they have insurance? You want your tradie to be insured if an unfortunate event happens so you can protect yourself and your home. Keep in mind that there are many types of insurance out there, so better check if the insurance is adequately covered.
Builder’s warranty insurance will protect you as a homeowner if there’s a problem in the construction of your house. It will protect you against incomplete or defective work in the event that the builder is unable to complete the work (eg. disappears, goes bankrupt, etc.).
For more information about builder’s warranty insurance, you can visit the website of your state's building authority or building commission.
Tip #5 - Get to know their timeline
An experienced and professional tradie should be able to give you a realistic timeline for the project. They should be able to discuss with you how the home renovation will go, not just before it starts but also during and after the renovation.
Some builders take on several projects at a time and run them simultaneously. If you already have an eye on a good builder, get to know their timeline so you’re confident that they can build your home in a reasonable timeframe.
Whilst there will always be variables outside of the control of the builder (i.e. rainy days can slow work on a construction site to zero), ideally you do want a builder who is confident enough to not only give you a timeline of when they can start, and how long it will take them to complete the project, but also to give you the added assurance of including liquidated damages terms into your building contract.
These terms put the onus back on the builder to actually deliver the project on time, and if they don't, the agreement lets you recoup (usually by a specific amount per day) an amount of the money designated in the contract from the builder.
Tip #6 - Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It is a good idea to find out as much as you can about your prospective builder before you commit to them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding their profile, experience, and work. There is no such thing as a stupid or inappropriate question when your dream home is on the line.
Building a house is a major project which requires you to make the critically important decision of picking a good builder. It is not an exaggeration to say that the success of most home construction projects is based off of the quality of the builder and the ability of the owner and that builder to establish a mutually respectful and productive working relationship.
Take time to do your research, so you are confident that you have a competent and trustworthy home builder.
You can start your journey towards building your dream home today by researching one of our great construction loans!