Top 5 Common Mistakes When Choosing a Residential Builder

Top 5 Common Mistakes When Choosing a Residential Builder

Building your first home is both an exciting and nerve-wracking journey.

For starters, it means you can finally build a home that reflects your lifestyle needs. No more having to settle for those minor concessions that come with most pre-built homes. You know the ones! The kind of homes that ‘almost’ have it all – except for that one tiny bedroom… or the master bedroom with no connecting bathroom.

On the other hand, building a custom home comes with a number of risks.

From start to end, you’ll be working closely with your local builder so it has to be someone you can trust. To help you avoid disaster, here are the top 5 common mistakes people make when choosing a residential builder.

1. Agreeing to the Lowest Quote

Judging the value of your builder based purely on price is a bad idea.


Because a builder with the lowest quote has most likely cut a lot of corners to make the initial price offer more attractive to you. Some tactics the builder may have used to lower the price could be:

  • Use of either low quality materials or sourcing them from overseas
  • Cutting corners in the building process to speed up the estimated time of delivery
  • Hiring cheap labour – who may not have the skills (or enthusiasm) to put in 110%


Another reason to be wary of cheap quotes is the risk of hidden fees. It’s pretty fair to assume a quote that is way below the industry standard is not telling you the whole story. There may very well be hidden costs like soil testing, flooring, modifications, land registration fees and more… all of which are just waiting to jump out when the time is right.

Save yourself the trouble and only agree to work with a builder who is honest, transparent and upfront about the total project fee and associated costs. You’ll have a much better idea of what to expect from the process and you won’t have to worry about hidden costs or fees throwing a spanner in the works later on.

2. Not Looking for Testimonials

Sure, the builder probably has nothing but glowing reviews on their website. But do these reviews accurately represent the company as a whole? They might be. But the only way to find out is to dig a little deeper.

Try to find the company on platforms like Facebook, Google and Hipages. Unlike their own website, the company has much less control over the kind of reviews posted on these sites (of course, they can report or flag reviews that are clearly fake and purely written to slander the company).

Due to the lack of ‘quality control’ on these platforms, you’re more likely to get raw and honest opinions from people who have dealt with the company before. Of course, there may be some biases in these reviews so it’s important to take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Another idea is to approach the business directly and get contact details from an existing client. Since these clients are in the middle of building, you’re likely to get honest feedback on how the project is going and if they would recommend the builder to you.

3. Skipping the Written Paperwork

It seems incredible that some people would agree to a home building project with a simple handshake – but it’s a common mistake made by people when choosing their residential builder.

Of course, these kind of informal agreements are dangerous for a number of reasons. That’s because there’s no formal written agreement in place to protect the client from the many associated risks that come with any building project.

With a handshake agreement there are no guarantees to financially protect the client if the project is delayed or never finished. There may also be no insurance coverage to protect the client if the property is damaged. Worse still, even if the project is completed and the property seems to be fine – there may be no structural guarantee in place to protect the client if the property has issues many years down the line.

Do yourself a favour. Hire a lawyer with experience in the construction industry who can review the contract you receive from the builder. Or have them draft a completely brand new agreement to be signed and agreed upon by the builder themselves.

And what if the builder doesn’t agree to those terms and conditions? Move on. Find a builder who will.

4. Not Having Fixed Fees

With any building project, you want to have the confidence of knowing the price you agree to on paper will be exactly what you pay in the end.

Unfortunately, there are some builders who try to squeeze every dollar out of you.

For example, most building contracts include terms like ‘provisional sums’ and ‘prime cost.’ What these terms mean is the supply of materials has not been fully detailed as of the current time of writing. So an estimate figure is drawn up to cover for the estimated cost of those building supplies and materials.

In the context of the initial planning stage this makes sense. It’s very hard to know exactly how much each item will cost down in the early stages of planning. However, some builders use these industry terms as a way to justify having wide price ranges, which give them the freedom to buy expensive supplies and materials that leave you financially drained.

To avoid being ripped off, learn to spot there complex industry terms – or hire a third-party to do it for you – and negotiate on a more realistic price range that suits your needs.

5. No Building Inspection

You’ve just wrapped up the final stages of building. You’re ready to collect the keys and start a new life in your brand new home. But wait! Just because the coat of paint is fresh on your new home, that doesn’t mean it’s safe from faults and defects.

Whether you’re building a custom home or off a plan, there is always the risk of building defects no matter what kind of property you build. There may be defects in regards to the carpentry, structural integrity, use of materials and overall craftsmanship. Worse still, there may be all kinds of pests already living in your home and getting comfy.

Of course, the only way to find these flaws is to have the property inspected by a licensed building inspection company.

This way you have peace of mind knowing the house you built is in top condition. If there are defects found in the property – and your project is covered by a workmanship guarantee – the builder should fix these issues at no extra cost to you.

Finally, with a building inspection your insurance will have the evidence they need to cover you for any natural damage that occurs to the property.

Want to avoid these common mistakes when choosing your residential builder? For construction without compromise look no further than Trident Projects. Call 02 9743 6333 and our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

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