Find a Registered Builder
How to find a registered builder suited to your project and negotiate a price matching your budget. Michael Caleo explains the process…
As one of the most potentially expensive services you’re likely to pay for in your lifetime, make sure you thoroughly check out your builder before you sign anything.
First, compile a list of builders you would consider using. Ask friends, neighbours or even people in your street, who have recently built, for their recommendations. Contact these builders to ask to speak to the owners who employed them. Check out some recent projects they’ve completed. Find out if the owners are happy with the job – are they satisfied with the quality of the work, was it finished on time and was the builder easy to work with – after all this builder is going to be a big part of your life for quite awhile. So ask yourself, ‘Can I live with this man in my house?’ If the answer is no, it may be advisable to look for a more compatible builder.
Make a shortlist of three or four builders and ask them to quote on your project. Ensure each builder is quoting on exactly the same amount of work and that nothing has been left out. Be careful if estimates seem too low, you may find the budget blows out once construction commences. Ask each builder what other jobs they have on. Someone with a lot of work on may not be able to properly manage your job. Is he (or she) going to supervise the work? If your contractor is using a supervisor, make sure the supervisor has experience in the type of work you want done.
Your builder must be properly qualified for the type of work you want done. In Victoria, it is illegal for a builder to do residential construction without a proper licence. Builders are required to have home warranty insurance. It protects the homeowner against a substandard job or unfinished work. Ensure your builder has this insurance cover. If a builder wants you to get an owner-builder licence, he may be unable to obtain home warranty insurance for himself or he may not have the right kind of licence for your work. Do not use a builder that asks you to be an owner-builder and obtain a building permit in your name. He probably is unable to obtain the proper insurance.
Talk to the building contractor about your project – does he seem interested? Does he ask lots of questions? Has he done similar jobs? How can the builder demonstrate they are right for your job? In the end, the builder you choose has to be someone you can live with, for the duration of your project.