You’ve done the research, sought advice and signed the contract - the heavy lifting begins now!

Priority number one is to have a professional and positive relationship with your builder.

Firstly, be mindful that good builders are skilled problem-solvers. Every week they encounter a number of unanticipated problems that require resolution - a skilled builder is worthy of respect. As the homeowner, your job is to acknowledge this reality and aim to work productively toward sensible, cost-effective solutions.

Here are our top 10 tips -

1. Communication is the single most important factor to ensure a minimum of stress. Differences of opinion will occur, things will go wrong - deal with it. Real problems arise when communication breaks down, resolving building disputes by involving a third party is something to be avoided. Work as a team!

2. While it’s generally not possible with volume builders, inviting the builder to be involved in the design phase can create a sense of mutual ownership of a project. Experienced builders can often identify alternate ways of proceeding that saves money, time, or create enhanced amenity.Depositphotos 49262967 xl 2015 smaller

3. Engage. Visit the site, meet with the builder regularly, talk to the trades and sub-contractors. Though you may feel out of your comfort zone, offering a smile and chat on-site doesn't cost you a cent.

4. Treat the builders and contractors in a manner that you’d like to be treated. If it’s 36C outside, think of their needs, offer drinks and nourishment - it’s a two-way street.

5. Though it’s sometimes taken for granted, good builders have amazing practical skills. Look closely at what they do, a compliment can go a long way. Yes, they're being paid to deliver an outcome, but everyone wins if you let people know you’re feeling good about making a sound choice of builder.

6. Homeowners should be readily available to discuss issues with the builder. If you’re on the back of a camel in Cairo and you don’t have phone reception, don’t expect to come back and find every decision made in the way you’d have chosen.

7. As well as being available to the builder, you should also aim to make decisions in a timely manner. Time is money!

8. Create one ‘port of call’. Don’t ask the builder to refer questions to more than one party. A sure way to send a builder nutty is to bounce them between the husband and wife.

9. Life will be unnecessarily complicated if you insist on having your ‘mate with a Bobcat’ get involved with the building project. Some custom builders may be prepared to accommodate these requests, but generally it’s to be avoided. There have been far too many disputes over the years where the ‘mate with a Bobcat’ clashes with the appointed builder, creates delays, uses inappropriate methods, is injured - or just stuffs up. Use the one builder for the entire job and let them select their known and trusted trades.

10. Importantly, remember that you have a legally-binding relationship with the builder for 10 years after handover. If you damage the relationship during the building phase don’t expect it to be easy getting the attention of the builder a year or two after he’s driven down your driveway for the last time.

Finally, it should go without saying, but homeowners have an obligation to make progress payments on time. Materials need to be purchased and subbies must be paid - settle accounts as they fall due.

Happy builder, happy life!

by Brendan Watkins


We've helped hundreds of Australians complete their due diligence with our unique range of credit rating, defaulting, company & court records. We also search hard-to-find regulatory, insurance, social & government records to ensure our clients avoid repeat-offending builders. If you're about to build, or extend credit to builders, we'll do your homework for you.

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