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Everything you need to know about finding a Builder

If you are building a new home or renovating, there is a high likelihood that you will require a licensed builder for the project. They are critical in ensuring that the project runs smoothly and everything is built to the correct specifications.

Read on to find out more about builders and what they do.

©Home Impact Design & Build

What Builders Do

There are many various tasks that builders can perform. These include:

  1. General building work: In any sort of project, builders carry several professional responsibilities for construction and overseeing general building work including that of construction, renovation, extension or demolition of a building, road or other structure. If the builder is carrying out the work themselves, they may undertake structural work on your property such as adding rooms, removing walls, and so on. Also see general building work.

  2. New homesYour selected building specialist will be able to advise you on many important issues to consider when building a new home, including logistics, costs, site selection, and ongoing customer service being just a few. For more see new home builders.

  3. Project managing: Often, builders will not do the general building work themselves but rather manage and coordinate projects, manage the buying and delivery of the materials needed for the project and manage tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians. For more information see building project managers.

  4. Renovations: A building professional may be able to manage the whole renovation process for you (potentially saving you a lot of headaches), and will enable you to get the best value for money from your renovation. Also see building renovation.

  5. Home extensions: Find a reputable building professional who is qualified and has the experience to help you plan and execute the final renovation process. It is also worth checking that your selected builder professional carries appropriate insurance and licensing relevant to the state in which you reside. You may check these details out with your local housing association. For more see home extensions.

  6. House & land packages: Developers/ builders who have the house and land packages for sale sometimes also have a display homes. It is worth visiting any display homes the builders have, look over plans and check out the quality of their finished houses. Also see house & land packages.

  7. Commercial building: Commercial builders specialize in the construction of shops, office buildings, factories, retail buildings (such as shopping malls) and other buildings. Commercial builders need excellent logistic, negotiation and supervision skills to ensure their construction projects are completed on time, and on budget. For more see commercial builders.

  8. Permits: Builders can also help to organise the necessary building permits for your project. See below for more info.

Skills Builders Require

Builders need to have a general knowledge of all trades, not just their own; be able to estimate the quantities of materials needed for a project; assess the quality of work completed; organise the job site; have knowledge of the relevant laws and statutes; be able to communicate with clients; interpret job drawings; estimate the cost of a project; and be responsible for general and financial management of a project.

Types of Building Style and Design

A builder should be able to work to the style and design of your home, whether it is contemporary, heritage, etc. They should also be able to advise you on ways to incorporate various elements into your home so that it matches the existing style. Any new buildings or renovations should be complementary, that is, they should be in harmony with the existing landscape and building.

Is the builder able to design a home that matches your needs both energy-wise and style-wise? Many builders specialise in a particular style so it may be worth searching for one that can build exactly what you are looking for. If you are not sure exactly what it is that you are after, a builder should be able to provide you with some ideas – a kind of design service, if you will.

Also ask if the builder will try for energy efficiency when building or renovating your home. Components of energy efficiency may include building the home so that it naturally harnesses the breeze, reducing the need for air conditioning; solar heating; and incorporating water saving features in the home.

©Pasco Design

Choosing a Builder

To ensure that you have the right residential or commercial builder for your project, there are some things to consider.

1. Make sure that the builder is registered and licensed. You can check the licence through the appropriate state authority. It is vital that the builder is licensed as the license protects you against poor business practices and work that is unsafe. See our trade licensing page for more details about builders where you live.There is also information about the licensing of builders by state/territory on Licensedtrades.com.au.

2. Check the builder holds the correct insurances, including Home Warranties Insurance, Builder’s All Risk Insurance, Public Liability Insurance and Worker’s Compensation. Ask to see the certificates of insurance.

3. Always get at least three quotes before choosing a builder, and make sure that each builder quotes on exactly the same thing. Try to be as detailed as possible when giving the builder the list of items you require. Check each quote to ensure that everything has been included and look out for quotes that seem unrealistically low, as there may be hidden costs later down the line. Do not choose a builder on the quote alone. Also consider their reputation and experience.

4. Ask to see previous examples of the builder’s work or for details of previous customers so that you can see the work that has been completed in the past. This will enable you to see if the builder can work to your style and specifications.

5. Ask the builder what type of contract they use and if it is a Plain English contract. The contract should include all the details of the job and be as accurate as possible. Always take the time to read the contract carefully and ask the builder questions if there’s anything that you are not sure of. Never sign a contract until you understand fully what it encompasses. Finally, builders should never pressure you to sign a contract quickly to avoid increases in price.

Some other questions that you can ask when choosing a builder include:

  • What other work do you have at the moment?
  • Who is supervising the work?
  • What deposit do you require?
  • When do you need progress payments?
  • How long will the job take?
  • When can you start?
  • Who is cleaning the site once the work has been completed?

©Rooster Construction

Building Permits

Building permits are necessary for most building projects, alterations, demolitions or removals and they confirm that a surveyor has approved the work. They are essential if you are building a new house and also for many renovations. Your builder should be able to obtain all the necessary permits, saving you a lot of time and paperwork. The contract should state who is obtaining the permits – you or the builder. However, the cost of the permits is your responsibility regardless of who obtains the permits.

Building permits often have a timeframe in which the work is to be completed so make sure that you and the builder know how long this period is. Building surveyors or inspectors will also regularly inspect the work during the duration of the project to ensure that the requirements of the permit are being met. They will also inspect again at the end of the project. So that the inspections run as smoothly as possible, it is important that you or the builder communicate as openly as possible with the surveyor or inspector.

How Much Does Building Cost?

Expect to be charged on a square meter basis when obtaining quotes from a builder. This could range from $700 per square metre for a budget builder to $2000 per square metre for a quality builder using the best materials. Project home builders who work to a fairly rigid set of plans will be considerably cheaper than custom builders who can produce a home to your exact specifications. Other factors that will influence the overall cost include access to the site, the size and complexity of the project and the location of the site. This is of course a general guide/range as building a home is inherently a complex process with hundreds of potential variables. Also consider that even before you start building plans, surveys and approvals can easily cost $10 000. 

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