There are several important factors to take into account before choosing a builder for a new home. It can be time-consuming but it’s time well spent when you consider the amount of money involved.

Price and budget are major considerations.

There are specialist builders for first time buyer homes, mid-range project homes, top end custom designs, and for the very high budget there are luxury builders. There is little point approaching a first home builder to build a custom home because their budget, repeat design, business model will most likely prevent them from being able to be competitive in a one-off build. In a similar way a luxury home builder just won’t want to build a small home where there is little or no comparative margin to his more luxurious product.

Reputation and references

…are also key to getting the best builder for you. Many clients want the perceived security of a household name to build for them based on the company’s built-volume to guide their choice. It is very important to read reviews and speak to past or current clients building with a company before you choose to sign up with them. A good builder will have no issue letting you speak to customers and they should be able to supply good, verifiable references.

Financial stability

…is crucial in today’s highly competitive market. Builders are cutting prices to keep busy and whilst that looks good on paper, cut prices are not sustainable in the long term because every business needs profit to build stability for the future. You may have got the best price in town but if the builder is not around to build for you it’s a very hollow victory! Credit references can be sourced from any number of online agencies and whilst they are not a guarantee to performance, they are the best source of information about how strong a company is. Pay particular care to check if the company pays its suppliers on time and if it has a good solid rating in the industry.

Home style and type preference matter too

If you are very eco-friendly and want a lot of sustainable features look for a specialist builder who has experience in that area. If you are building a complicated under croft thre- storey home don’t go to a small project home builder who builds stunning single storey display homes. They probably won’t have the staff or trades to move on to a complex construction. Likewise, many builders specialise in certain styles. If you want to build a farm house style home on a big acreage, it’s probably best to avoid the cubic modernist styles that some suburban builders are producing solely in line with popular trends. The key is to find the right fit for your home build. Ask how many homes are built of a type or style by the builder. They may have a beautiful portfolio of drawn designs but have never built the one you want!

Location

…can add cost to any build as most builders have a favourite area that they like to work in and in which their pricing is most competitive. Building within a metro area is easier than outlying suburbs because everything is close to hand. Choose a builder that has a good sample of homes built in your proposed area. Most people don’t like to say no to work but leaning on a builder to go where they are not comfortable can bring problems like extra costs and possible delays on site. This is because ‘out of comfort zone’ issues mean less options for a builder to rely on. When putting a price together a builder outside his area will add ‘wiggle money’ (contingency) in case he needs it. You don’t want to be paying for a builder’s nervousness, so do your homework and find a company that’s happy and well-represented in the area you want to live in.

Personality and working relationships are important.

One point to think about is whether you want to develop a relationship with the builder other than the most basic customer / supplier type. Some clients need to be present on site regularly and want to build up a rapport with the supervisor in charge. Most bigger builders change supervisors regularly and clients can find that frustrating. Choose a small builder that guarantees you a personal service if you want to be involved in the project. You may even be dealing with the owner of the company and this can give complete reassurance. On the other hand, if you are content to sit back and let things happen developing a close relationship won’t be so much of a priority and choosing a builder for personal service is less important.

By now you will see that the choice of a builder is far from the glossy PR media profiles we all see on TV. Its vital to get the right builder for your project who will deliver what you want, for the price you want, and with the level of service you need. Perhaps you could do with some help and would prefer someone to be responsible for delivering for you? If that’s the case appoint a professional to do the work for you. A good building broker will make the choice of builder fit your brief and be responsible for doing so. They will guide you in best decision making, guide you what to sign and when, and tell you when you have the best price available without you worrying about a lot of unfamiliar terms and conditions. A good broker will also save you more than they cost in time, peace of mind and savings negotiated for you.

WRITTEN BY PAUL CHEVERALL

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