Anyone currently navigating the home building gauntlet will know there are lots of different choices out there when it comes to builders. Read on to find out how you can pick one you can trust.
1. How much experience do they have?
You might think this is obvious, but it’s important to know your builder is well-established and trusted. Look for a builder who has a number of jobs under their belt, and has created a good reputation for themselves.
Sometimes a firm may seem new, but remember that many new building firms are established by seasoned builders.
Do your homework – ask around, search the internet, and look at other examples of their work and, where possible, talk to previous customers about their experience.
2. Are they part of a builder’s association?
Builders who belong to an association care about continuing their education and keeping up to date with technology and innovations in the field, meaning they’ll use the latest best practices when constructing your home.
3. Are they licensed & insured?
A good indicator of a quality homebuilder is one that’s fully licensed and insured – and will provide you with those details when requested. It’s important for both you and your homebuilder to be covered during the building process in the event that something goes wrong.
4. Do they have past clients that will give positive feedback?
The sign of a good homebuilder is one that has a lot of satisfied clients. Many builders will offer referral incentives for potential clients but even if they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask for them.
When you get in touch with past clients, you can ask if they would build again with the builder, if they would recommend the builder to their friends and what they found exceptional about the experience.
5. Are they busy, but not too busy?
If a builder tells you they can start building your home straight away, it’s probably a good idea to be cautious. A good builder will be relatively busy, meaning they have frequent work scheduled in coming months and hopefully have happy clients.
On the flipside, you don’t want them to be so busy that your phone calls go unanswered or they don’t start your job on time.
Make sure you get clear timelines for your build and that the builder can deliver on them to avoid disappointment down the road. If they seem overworked – they probably are.
6. Is there clear communication from start to finish?
Good homebuilders will give their clients straightforward guidelines from the start of the process and will continue to communicate with you throughout the project, right up until handover.
A worthwhile builder will also have clear communication with their subcontractors, vendors and workers, and will be able to update you and answer your queries in a timely manner.
7. Are they honest with you?
You need your builder to be honest with you – if your budget is too low, they should be upfront about it. They’ll make sure your expectations are in check and let you know if your vision is unrealistic or achievable. If a builder simply agrees with you when you say you want an energy efficient home with an entire wall of windows facing the hot afternoon sun, you should probably be wary.
8. Works have started – but have they put up temporary fencing?
A temporary fence is required by law to be erected from the commencement of works until lockup. There are two good reasons behind this – the safety of the public, and protecting your property from theft and damage.
A responsible builder will not commence works until temporary fencing is erected.
9. Do they show up on time?
We all know the stereotype of tradespeople showing up late – or not at all – but when meeting with your builder it’s important to take note of their punctuality.
This can indicate how likely they are to get to the worksite on time and in turn their ability to work to meet your deadline.
10. Are they providing a warranty?
A worthwhile builder will stand by their workmanship and have no hesitation in providing a warranty for the home.
In NSW for example, by law, it’s the contractor’s responsibility to make ensure their work is free of major defects for six years after the work is completed and two years for all other defects. So you can be confident in the quality of a builder that offers a warranty for more than the standard six-year period and have peace of mind if any major issues arise.
We hope these 10 questions help to clarify what you should look for in a new home builder.
If you’re considering buying an apartment off the plan here’s what you need to know before signing on the dotted line. Also, check out these seven questions to ask before buying a house and land package.