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How do I choose a builder??

The building process can be complex, and one of the big decisions to make is who your builder will be. How do you know which builder will be the right fit for your project? Do they have the skills you need, are they skilled, professional and will you feel comfortable having them work on your property?

There are a lot of things to consider and questions to ask to ensure you get the right person for the job. In this blog, we give you a general guide for how to perform your due diligence when engaging a builder.

Getting started

There are so many builders out there, it can be hard to know where to start your search. A helpful tip is to begin by asking friends or family who have recently completed builds or renovations. You could also try community Facebook pages for local recommendations. Thoroughly investigating someone’s track record, and customer reviews, is important.

When you have a few potential names and you make the initial calls, there are a few basic questions to start with. You will want to inquire about their qualifications, recent or relevant projects, how long they have been in the business, and professional memberships they have, along with any warranties or insurances. You also need to understand the type of work they do, the way they work and the style of buildings they develop. Some company’s specialise in renovations, while some will only be interested in new builds. Some companies also have specific price points they’re interested in with potential clients. Understanding the builder/ company is all part of getting the right fit for you and what you want to achieve.

Check references

A quality builder will have no trouble giving you references to check. You aren’t just wanting to know about the quality of the work, but also the professionalism and conduct of the builder/their company. You can check online for testimonials or customer reviews on Facebook and Google Reviews. It is safe to say that if someone has had a bad experience with a builder, there will be a record of it online!

Now is also a good time to check up on any qualifications that the builders claim to have or associations they belong to. If you are going with a well-known and reputable company these claims are very unlikely to be false – but there have been cases of fraudulence by unqualified cowboy builders. Better to be safe than sorry and do your homework.

Get quotes

After you have done your reference checking and you have your shortlist, it’s time to get down to the money! Have several builders scope and quote for the job to make sure you are getting a good deal. You will want full details of everything that is being included in the quote, such as materials, supplies, products, earthworks, site clearance, plumbing, electrical etc. If the quote includes materials and products, what quality are they? You will also want to ask about consents and regulations, and make sure you are clear on what’s included in the quote and what isn’t. If your builder will arrange building and resource consents for you, enquire about who will do this; using someone inexperienced could end up costing you more money in Council processing fees.

Check timeframes

Can they complete the work within your required timeframe? Perhaps one of the most common complaints about builders is timeliness and often this is because owners’ expectations aren’t realistic. Managing expectations up front is the best way to prevent any issues going forward. Make it clear what your timeframes are.

Guarantees and Insurance

You should ask about any guarantees offered for their workmanship, materials and products. What is their resolution process if you are unhappy about any aspect of the job? A builder should also have insurance to protect themselves as well as your property. Ask them about their insurance and what it covers.

Agree in writing

Once all the details have been ironed out and you have made your choice of builder, the job and payment terms should be agreed in writing. Make sure everything you have asked for is documented before you sign anything. We always recommending getting advice from your lawyer on contracts or agreements.

Presentation and communication

You will be having several interactions with prospective builders before making any decisions, which should give you enough time to assess their overall professionalism and reliability. If they are pleasant to deal with, answer your questions well, respect you and your time, and return calls promptly – then you are off to a good start!

Need a resource consent?

If you are considering a building project you may require consent from your local Council before you can get started. Give us a call here at Planning Plus to check your obligations when it comes to your next project. You can download our free e-guide by subscribing to our website, to learn more about the resource consent process.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s.

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