Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Builder: What You Need to Know
When it comes to hiring a builder for your renovation or construction project, whether it’s your first or your fourth home build, it's important to do your research and ask the right questions to find the right builder for your project.
Choosing the wrong builder can lead to some complications and potentially a final product that doesn't meet your expectations. We’ve put together this guide to help you make the right choice before hiring a builder for your project.
Questions to ask before hiring a builder
- What is your experience and qualifications?
It’s a good idea to ask the builder about their experience or if they could provide examples of their work when you first get in touch with them. A well established and confident builder should be happy to provide references or links to examples online.
You can also try researching their experience either on their website or review sites such as product review and google reviews, it’s a good idea to seek out a builder who has developed a good reputation within your community.
- Are they part of a builders association?
This is a good indication that the builder cares about continuing their education and keeping up to date with technology and important requirements and innovations in the home building industry. Some well known associations include the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and Mater Builders Association (MBA).
- What is your approach to communication and project management?
Communication is key, especially when it comes to a large financial commitment such as building a new home. It’s a good idea to ask the builder about their communication plan and project management approach so you can ensure you’re across each stage of the project.
Some other questions you should ask include:
- What’s the best way to get in touch? Is it via email or phone call?
- Ask how they handle any issues that arise during the project.
- Find out who will be on site during the construction process and how often the builder will be on site.
- How often you should expect an update and should you set meetings in your calendar?
- What is your pricing and payment structure?
This is generally considered the most important question, as this is going to determine whether the builder costs is within your budget. It’s also important to get a detailed quote and understanding of the costs for your bank if you are looking to obtain a home or construction loan for your project, they will require this information as part of the application process.
Make sure you cover:
- Ask for a detailed quote or estimate that outlines all costs and payment terms.
- Find out if there are any hidden costs or fees.
- Ask about the builder's policy on change orders.
- What is your warranty and after-sales service?
It’s a good idea to find out the warranty terms and after-sales service right at the start of your builder research, this can give a good indication of the builders confidence in their work. A standard warranty period for home builders is usually not less than 6 years.
Make sure you find out:
- What kind of after-sales service is provided and for how long.
- Ask about their customer service and support process after the project is completed.
- Who will be the supervisor on the project?
It’s important to know who the building supervisor is as they will most likely be your point of contact throughout the building process. You can also use this opportunity to search their previous experiences and how long they have been with their current company to give you an indication of their building and project management skills and knowledge.
- How long will the project take?
An experienced builder can estimate the time it will take to complete the project despite construction's unpredictability. Factors like material sourcing and weather can cause delays. Ask for milestone points, such as foundation laying time, to better assess the timeline.
How the builder handles delays, such as weather events, is also an important question to ask to get a better understanding and give you a sense of certainty for when these delays do happen throughout the project.
Other key questions to ask a builder before hiring:
- Can I get this information in writing
- What’s their workload look like at the moment? Are they busy?
- What’s your cancellation policy should things go pear-shaped?
- What level of customisation do you offer to the build?
What you should look for in a builder quote?
Australian builders have different templates for what's included in their quotes. Therefore it’s important for consumers to clearly state the scope of work and understand the quote's inclusions and exclusions.
When reviewing a builder's quote, you should look for the following:
- Scope of Work: Ensure that the quote outlines all the work to be completed and that it aligns with your expectations.
- Inclusions and Exclusions: Check for a clear breakdown of what is and isn't included in the quote. This will help avoid any misunderstandings or disputes later on.
- Cost Breakdown: Verify that the quote includes a detailed breakdown of costs, including materials, labor, and any additional expenses.
- Payment Schedule: Make sure the payment schedule is outlined in the quote and that it aligns with your budget and expectations.
- Timeline: Ensure that the quote includes a reasonable timeline for completing the project.
- Licenses and Insurance: Check that the builder has the required licenses and insurance to perform the work.
- References: Review the builder's references and portfolio to assess their previous work and client satisfaction.
By checking for these details, you can make a more informed decision and avoid potential issues down the line.
Things to consider before signing the contract with the builder?
- Compliance: Make sure you check the builder is in full compliance with Australian building regulations and codes.
- Licensing and insurance requirements: This could include home warranty insurance and business insurance. You will also want to check the builder's accreditation with the Master Builders Association or other relevant industry bodies.
- list the specific details of your choices or selections for all your fixtures and fittings (such as make, model, colour or style) in your contract.
- identify any additional council requirements for your area – for example, termite or fire protection requirements, or development levy
You can also do some reasearch on your state or local government websites for helpful building contract checklists and information. VIC consumer affaird government website has a detailed and helpful building checklist.
How can Joust help you with your building project?
Our Instant Match service helps you access various flexible home loan options to find the one tailored to your needs. So, whether you're looking for a loan to build or to refinance, Joust can help connect you with a suitable option at comparatively lower interest rates.
Just answer some basic questions and get ready to compare the three lowest-rate home loan offers that match your requirements.
*The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, Joust recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Joust recommends that you seek independent legal, financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.