Building a custom-built home is an exciting albeit nerve-wracking experience. On the one hand, you’ll have the opportunity to determine the look and feel of your new abode. But on the other, there are a whole host of things that could go wrong.
And when things go wrong in construction, it tends to do so in a massive way. To reduce the likelihood of having to fork out huge sums of cash to fix shoddy workmanship, it’s crucial to find the right builder to work on your dream home. Not only do you need a reliable and reputable operator, but you also need someone who fits with your plans and overall vision.
Here are 5 tips to help you determine the best builder for the job.
Do Your Research
Building an entire custom-built home is a monumentally complex task. You’ve got a wide range of factors to consider such as materials, construction techniques, climates, foundations, soil conditions, labour costs, timelines, budgets, and government regulations, just to name a few.
With so much information to absorb, researching the process will be overwhelming at first, but try not to feel too daunted by the task. After all, you only need to know the basics.
Having even just a rudimentary understanding of what it takes to build a home will not only make the process easier, but it’ll reduce your risk of being taken for a ride as well. Although the construction industry is relatively well regulated in Australia, there are a vast number of shady operators out there who love to overcharge and under-deliver.
But where do you even begin?
Unless you’ve got some related industry knowledge or skills, it’s best to research by checking out a few very basic online articles on custom built homes. Opt for well-known publications or the blog section of a reputable design and build construction business.
Spend your time researching homes that appear to be very similar to your dream in terms of design and size. At the very least, aim to educate yourself on suitable materials and their costs, standard timeframes, average budgets (remember, every build is different), and any relevant council restrictions.
With this knowledge at hand, you’ll be much better equipped at sizing up a potential builder to determine if they’re the best option for you.
Peruse Their Portfolio
Now that you’ve got some idea of what you’re getting yourself into, it’s time to check out the past projects and credentials of potential builders.
The first thing you want to ensure is that they’re adequately licensed to do the job. Each Australian State has a user-friendly builder license check tool which you can easily find through Google. If they don’t appear on the list, you should call the relevant government department to double check. Any builder without the proper license should obviously be avoided at all costs.
Next, it’s time to check out some of their credentials. As you might expect, well-established builders with a large amount of industry experience – ideally several decades – are a safer bet than newcomers.
Any good builder these days will have a professionally designed website which provides information on the company, showcases previous builds, and advertises display homes or sales. Ask if it’s possible to check out a place in person to assess the quality of the workmanship for yourself.
Get Some References
To the untrained eye, a home that looks the part could be riddled with all sorts of problems. Therefore, it’s crucial to get some unbiased feedback in addition to your own research.
Ask the builder if they could provide the contact details of any former clients as references. Of course, some might just pass you on to a friend or relative, so you’ll need to use your best judgment here.
Another option is online reviews. Bear in mind, however, that these could be written by the builder to boost their image or by a competitor to tarnish their reputation.
Alternatively, you could visit former customers in person at their homes and ask them how they’d rate the builder. Most people are more than willing to talk about their experience and it’s a sure-fire way to get unbiased feedback. If that sounds too awkward, just drop a letter in their letterbox instead.
Finally, check if any of your friends or family had a custom build home? Find out who they used, and what they were like.
Assess Their Communication
In the construction industry, communication, honesty, and transparency are just as important as qualifications.
Make contact with your potential builder and assess how responsive, informative, and courteous they are before making any commitments. If they appear to withhold information now, it’s highly likely that it may only worsen during the construction phase.
Likewise, any nonchalant or hostile vibes are a good indication this isn’t someone you want to work with.
Ask Lots of Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. You want to know as much as possible about the process to ensure things run smoothly. Furthermore, questions are a great way to evaluate a builder’s communication and credentials.
By following these 5 simple tips, you can mitigate a large proportion of the stress and risk involved in building a custom-built home. By the end of it, you’ll be more likely to enjoy your fabulous new dream home on time and on budget.