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Working with Builders

Last Updated Jun 27, 2012 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

Whether you’re building a new home or undertaking a serious renovation, you’ll need the services of a builder.  The builder is the main person in the project, running everything and liaising with you so you want someone that you are confident in and that you can work with easily.  Here are our hints and tips for working with your builders.  For more advice or information, just have a chat with a building professional local to you.

Create a Shortlist

Before you choose a builder, make sure that you create a shortlist of suitable builders.  This means going through magazines to see who’s responsible for building your favourite homes, asking friends and family who they’ve used for their renovations or building projects, and asking your designer who they  would recommend.  If you end up with quite a few names, narrow it down to the ones that you think are the most promising – you should have about three or four builders on your list.  Double check that all your builders are licensed appropriately.

Get Quotes

The quoting process is one of the most vital in working with your builder as it sets the tone for the entire time that you work with your builder.  If you have tender documents, use those as it will ensure that each builder is quoting on exactly the same thing, making it much easier for you to make your final choice.  Make sure that you and your builder are both very clear on what’s included and what’s excluded in the final price that they give you.  During the quoting process, also make sure that you ask what their start date is and how long the building work will take.

Choose the Builder

Once you have detailed quotes, it’s time to choose your builder! Make sure you check their previous work if you haven’t already done that.  Now that you have your builder, it’s time to sign contracts and set out payment details.  We cannot stress this part enough – ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand!  Contracts are legally binding so you don’t want to get tripped up by something later that could have serious implications on the building work or budget.  Your contract should include:
  • Details of work to be done during the project
  • The building start and end dates
  • The costs of the building, broken down in progress payments and progress payment due dates
  • What will happen if the project runs past the agreed end time (penalties etc)
  • Agreements for rubbish removal and site management
  • Agreements on what facilities the builders and tradespeople will be using (using your bathroom or bringing in portaloos for example)

Keeping Everyone Happy

One of the biggest parts of building is to keep everyone happy – you as the owners, the tradespeople and the neighbours.  Your builder should be the one to control this.  Have agreed start and end times each day so the neighbours know when the noise will stop.  If you need to use your neighbour’s land for any reason (access for example), your builder should organise and agree on this with them.  Both you and your builder should keep a log of the work done to date, any delays and any changes, so you can refer to your notes if issues arise and make it easier to find a solution.
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