How to Find the Right Builder

We all want our project done right and delivered on time and on budget, right?

Your builder arguably has the greatest influence on the overall success of your project; therefore, builder selection is the single most important decision a homeowner will make. It’s no longer good enough to ask a mate who did their reno and use them.

Many homeowners embarking on a new build feel out of their depth. It can be overwhelming dealing with industry jargon, regulations, registration, permits and insurance rules - as a consequence people often rush the all-important builder appointment process.

It can also be challenging compiling a list of capable, reputable and affordable builders. Though several 'review' websites claim to provide this service, there's no magical site where you enter a suburb, budget and job specs and half-a-dozen properly-vetted, trustworthy and available builders appear. Be aware also that 'online reputation management' services exist - negative reviews can be deleted when legal pressure is applied. Also, the fact is, some of the very best builders have limited social media presence and many don't appear in any of the review websites.

To ensure the best possible outcome you'll need to do some leg-work.

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As most homeowners know, the arrival of COVID19 in 2020 led to the establishment of the hugely successful federal government HomeBuilder program.

These $25,000 grants effectively provided free money for those wanting to build. Launched amid record low interest rates what we’ve witnessed is a feeding frenzy for both homeowners and builders: many builders now report full schedules for the next 6 – 12 months.

There is a sting in the tail however. While acknowledging the much-needed certainty provided by HomeBuilder, the question should be asked: was it too generous? The seemingly limitless cash forked out by government has led to a percentage of projects planned for future years being bought forward. The knock-on is that we now have a shortage of trades, timber, steel and a range of essential materials. The end result is delays and cost blow-outs. The profit margin for some builders, now and into the immediate future, is in some question.

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Often unconsciously, we make ‘custom vs volume’ purchase decisions every day. When we buy clothes, food, even haircuts we evaluate convenience and price over amenity and a bespoke solution.
Firstly, a broad definition of the two formats -

> Volume Builders
are substantial companies that perform large amounts of building work. Sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands of projects every year. Volume builders often promote their service based on price. They commonly offer a fixed range of ‘display home’ models that consumers select from - limited variation is permitted to the advertised plans.

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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 great builder is worthy of your respect. As the homeowner your job is to acknowledge this reality and aim to work productively toward sensible, cost-effective solutions.

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To ensure the best possible outcome, and a minimum of stress during construction, you’ll need to appoint more than just a builder.

We all want our project to be delivered on time and on budget. The best way to ensure this happens is to appoint a team of independent professionals, to advise and support you, both during and after the construction.

Firstly, be clear about exactly what it is you want and how much money you have at your disposal. Once you've ticked those boxes these are the main players you’ll need on your bench:

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First things first; too many people rush the process of choosing a builder. Builder selection is the most important step in a building project. Slow down, it’s not a race.

1: Appointing a Builder Who Isn't Properly Registered / Licensed or Insured

Your builder must be registered with the State Building Regulator (links at bottom of our homepage). There are multiple ‘unlimited’ and 'limited' registrations as well as builder 'classes' (eg: domestic, commercial, demolisher, structural landscaping, pool builder, etc) - make sure your builder's registration is appropriate for your specific project. If in doubt, call the regulator.

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