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, always 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. Unforeseen issues can lead to additional cost and delay. Work as a team!

Here are our top 10 tips -

1. Communication is the single most important factor to ensure a minimum of stress. Talk. Talk. Talk!
Differences of opinion will occur. Things will go wrong - deal with it. Disputes arise when communication has broken down. Resolving a building dispute by involving a third party is something to be avoided at all costs.

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 also identify alternate ways of proceeding that can save money, time, or create enhanced amenity.

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 won’t cost you a cent.

4. Treat the builders and contractors in a manner that you’d like to be treated. If it’s 35C outside, think of their needs, offer drinks and nourishment. It’s a two-way street.

5. Though it’s often taken for granted, good builders have amazing practical skills. Look closely at what they do - a compliment can go a long way. Yes, they are being paid to deliver an outcome, but everyone wins if you let people know you’re feeling good about making a great 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 readily 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, generally it’s to be avoided. There’ve 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, let them select their known and trusted trades.

10. Finally, 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 consumers have an obligation to pay the progress payments on time. Materials need to be bought and subbies must be paid - pay the accounts as they fall due. 

Happy builder, happy life!




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