Would you feel more confident choosing your builder if you knew what to look for?

To deliver a great service as well as a great quality house, builders need to have systems to manage the project. But few builders have trained for this. So to help you find the right builder who has those systems and quality assurances in place, I have listed five things to look for.

I’m passionate about building and have been ever since I was a boy. But now-a-days, just being a great builder isn’t enough.

I’m currently on holiday and it is always a nice time to reflect on how the year is progressing, what things I would change, and how to progress with changes for the better. Also, I have the space to give this topic the time it deserves.

Like anything, the more effort you put in, the better the return. However, I also understand, that you as the customer haven’t got a lot of time to go into endless hours of research so I thought it was a good idea to give you my top 5 must do’s to take control of those stress levels when choosing your builder. So here it goes.

1.Do your due diligence

Over 23 years it has always baffled me how people make decisions with the little information they have obtained. The more information you know upfront the better the position you’ll be in, going into the project. It’s more than likely that by sourcing the right answers and questions you’ll get those valuable connections and knowledge from the builders interested in your project. So don’t be shy, ask away and if the builder isn’t so forthcoming or is unresponsive, then you have possibly made the process of elimination easier.

Make no mistake, whether he’s the most sought after builder in the area or not, if he hasn’t got enough patience at this stage of the project, then it’s more than likely this is a sign of things to come. Eliminate and move on. Search for another worthy contender if required.

Here are just a few of the questions you need to ask;

  • Has he done a project similar to this one?
  • How many builder hours/days has he calculated for the project
  • How many builders will he assign to the project?
  • Will there be an ongoing project schedule?
  • Start date?
  • What will happen when the project runs past the schedule date?
  • Is it possible the project could run over budget?
  • What will happen when the project does runs over budget?
  • What are his rates and margins for the materials?
  • What are the rates for the tradesmen?
  • Will there be a safety plan in place?
  • What construction insurances will be in place incase of?

2. Testimonials and more testimonials.

Good testimonials are by far the best way to find the right builder for you.

An average builder can get one or two good testimonials and place them on the website. However, knowing his success rate will be the important part, so if you can go to his last four projects and see if they are raving about him. If so, then obviously this is a good sign.

Match this with reasonable rates and a good personality and you could be on to a winner.

How many times have you heard that the person who sold you the concept was different to the team that turned up? Talking to the most recent customers will reduce the chances of this happening to you as well as finding out other weaknesses and strengths of that company. You’ll likely hear a stack of other useful information that you didn’t think to ask. For example, How attentive were they to knocking off the snag list at the end of the project?  Did they involve you at the end to make certain you were absolutely happy with the result? A sure sign that keeping you happy, is important to them.

3. Signed contract and conditions

Having a signed estimate or quotation is imperative for transparency. Any decent building company will insist on this as it gives both parties a good point of reference. However, how do you know that the conditions aren’t leaning too far in favor of the builder?

There are a couple of fair building contracts out there and asking your architect or draftsman at this stage could be worth while. I’m in favor of the Certified Builders Association of New Zealand contracts. Commonly known as CBANZ, this association is based in Tauranga and is a nonprofit organization that you can ring up at any time and ask questions regarding these contracts.

Apart from the 20 – 30 pages of conditions, your contract should tell you the individual rates, estimated project duration, required progress payments, margin on materials, percentage or amount charged for project management, construction insurance, licensed building practitioner number and class. If the builder has formed a separate quote, then this needs to be noted on the CBANZ agreement.

4. Visit the current project.

Visit the builder’s existing work site. It’s more than likely you’ll come into contact with the owners and be able to knock off one of those testimonials you need to confirm you have the right company.

When you’re on site look for a clean and well organized building’s a tell tail sign of the positive team culture. A tidy site prevents accidents and gives the team a sense of pride in their work environment.

5. Team culture

If there is a positive team culture in the team, especially with builders, then this is a good sign. Let’s be honest, builders have the reputation of being stuck in their ways, so seeing a team culture is a great thing.

With a good team culture there will be an openness for change, which is the main ingredient to providing a great service and the motivation to succeed.

So try and find out if the team is familiar with having targets set on projects and whether the project schedule is known by all. You might see this schedule when on site.

So, if you make the effort, I promise you, it will help you make a much better connection and foundation between you and your builder and you will gain the all important confidence and trust that will help your building journey be an enjoyable one.

I wish you all the best.

Kind regards,


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