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How To Choose the Right Builder

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Finding the right builder is essential to the success of your project. Follow these simple steps to improve your chances of getting the one just right for you:

  1. Interview several builders. Ask an architect for recommendations. Also consult friends and neighbours.
  2. Review your completed plans with each builder, or ask the builders about designing plans for you.
  3. Make sure that all the builders see the building site and are quoting to build the house on that site, including excavation and any other site-specific costs.
  4. Get fixed price quotes from the builders and compare them, making sure that they each quote on the same items.
  5. Ask all the builders quoting for current licenses, Home Owners Warranty Insurance, Contract works insurance, Workers compensation Insurance and Public Liability insurance. Monitor the expiry dates of the insurance polices and ask you builder to provide you with renewed policies once old ones have expired.
  6. Ask for references - particularly previous customers - from each party. Check the references. Be sure to speak with them when the builder is not present. Look at some of the houses the builder has constructed.
  7. Be sure that the payment schedule for the builder is clear and understandable.
  8. Make sure that the contract specifies the start and completion dates. Insist on some type of late fee or penalty if the completion is delayed past a certain period (notwithstanding circumstances beyond the builder's control, such as inclement weather).
  9. Execute the approved contract. You can obtain a plain English Contract from the department of fair-trading. Or retain a solicitor with experience in construction cases to draft or review the contract.
  10. Make any required deposit payment, and be sure to write your cheques as per the schedule (not earlier and not later). ALWAYS only the pay the builder for work that has BEEN done. Do not pay for materials that have been delivered to your site but yet installed, i.e. bricks, windows. Or obtain the services of a quantity surveyor he can approve your builder’s progress claims.
  11. You'll probably be unable to negotiate a contract without a deposit, but attempt to minimize the amount you're required to pay in advance - certainly no more than 5 percent

Tips:

  • Check with the department of fair-trading for any complaints against the builder.
  • Remember that you'll be working closely with the builder - be sure to select someone with whom you can establish a comfortable relationship.
  • Don't assume that the most expensive builder is the best, or the least expensive the worst.

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