So you have decided to start your first building project. Congratulations! You have taken the first step to realising your dream – whether that be a new home, commercial premise, retail or office fitout. But before you reach out to providers in Sydney, you need to know how to choose the right builder.
There are no shortage of builders on the market who are professional and capable. But of course, it only takes a bad experience with an amateur for everything to fall apart. Follow these handy tips to find a builder who will go the extra mile to meet your exact needs.
Define the Scope
Whether or not you know what kind of project you want to build – whether it be a new home, renovation or office fitout – you need to get your details straight first. By having the specifics of your project written down, you are more likely to get a detailed and accurate quote.
Take the time to prepare some drawings and write down a list of everything you want – and do not want – in the property. If you are struggling with this step, ask yourself these questions to get the ball rolling:
- What features do you want or not wanted to be included in the property?
- What is your estimated budget?
- What is your ideal timeline?
- Do you have a preference for a certain interior or exterior style?
- Do you need outdoor features like fencing, gardening or landscaping?
- How does the building project tie-in with your business goals (i.e. improve workflow and productivity, meet growing customer demand or increase of staff members)
- Do you want the builder to take care of installation or upgrades to utilities (i.e. gas, electricity and water)
You might need to approach a designer to help you come up with drafts and concepts. However, many professional builders in Sydney have in-house designers who can help you define the scope and cost of your project.
Ask for References
Don’t stress if you’re having trouble choosing the right builder in Sydney… help may be closer than you think.
Reach out to your family, co-workers and circle of friends to find recommendations for builders in your local area. Find out if they were happy with the experience, if they dealt with any setbacks along the way, and if they were truly satisfied with the final outcome.
By getting an honest opinion from people you can trust, you will have the confidence to approach the builder they recommend and you know the experience will most likely be a positive one.
If you cannot get a reference from people you know, approach a builder and ask for references yourself. This can be a past client, architect or designer they work with, or anyone else who has worked with – but is not directly ‘tied’ to – their company.
Are They Reputable?
This should go without saying, but make sure any builder you choose is fully qualified and insured.
Another thing to remember is Home Building Compensation (HCB). Formerly known as home warranty insurance, the HBC is a form of coverage to protect homeowners from financial loss in the event their builder is unable to finish the project. According to NSW regulation,” …cover of at least $340,000 is needed for any residential home or renovation project costing over $20,000 including GST, unless exempt.”[i]
Besides the HBC, you should make sure your builder has the following licenses and documents:
- NSW Builders License issued by NSW Government Fair Trading
- Public liability insurance
- Professional indemnity insurance
- Workers compensation or SafeWork insurance
Of course, make sure these licenses and documents are up-to-date!
Check Their Portfolio
To choose the right builder, you want to work with someone who has experience working on projects that are similar to yours.
Most reputable builders will have a portfolio on their website that you can browse. Do their past projects match the scope of your building project? Are there certain features you do or do not like about their properties? How has the property aged well over the past 5 to 10 years?
Not all websites will have such detailed information about their projects – some only have pictures and a short paragraph. Don’t be afraid to call up the builder themselves and ask more specific questions about their past projects. If the builder can answer your questions with confidence – then you’ll know you have made the right choice.
Get to Know Your Builder
Knowing how to choose the right builder is more than just finding someone with technical skills – you need to get along with them too.
The relationship you have with your builder is incredibly important. These are the people who are in charge of making your home life or business a success for the next several years. You cannot afford to gamble with your money or emotional wellbeing on a builder who is late to reply, unable to answer certain questions, or is trying to offer the cheapest price to secure the job.
Don’t feel like you have to commit to a certain builder, ever. There is always a better, friendlier, and more qualified builder on the horizon!
Keep in mind, the people you first meet might not end up being the ones who oversee your exact project. Early on, be sure to find out who will actually manage your project, and focus on getting to know them.