How to source a great builder

August 7, 2020

Have you had a bad experience with a builder? Or heard of someone who has? Unfortunately this is incredibly common. Most of us just don’t know how to separate the good from the bad when it comes to choosing a builder.

Choosing the wrong builder can have some pretty serious consequences. From long delays, through to cost blow outs or quality issues. Over the past decade, new homeowners in Australia have faced a $10.5 billion bill to repair defects such as leaks, cracks, problems with plumbing, guttering issues and more.

To ensure your project goes as planned, it is critical you work with a trustworthy and reputable builder.

Here’s what to look for.

1. Is the builder licensed?

Working with a licensed builder is extremely important. This will weed out any dodgy players and make sure you’re covered if someone goes wrong.

In NSW licensed builders need to take out home building compensation cover for each project over $20,000 which protects consumers if the builder can’t complete building work or fix defects.

It’s simple to check if a builder is licensed. For example, in NSW you can do a search on the Service NSW website. Do a quick online search in your state to make sure the builders you’re talking to are licensed.

2. Is the builder recommended by others?

One of the best ways to know if a builder will do a good job is to check in with past clients or suppliers to get a true picture of their work. Read testimonials or reach out to former clients to ask about the builder’s track record.

3. Has the builder got a good track record?

Have a look at other projects the builder has completed to assess their quality. Make sure to check whether there were any defects issues. How did the projects turn out? Do a drive by to check out any developments.

4. Does the builder have any debt issues?

Some builders may have debt issues which can be a real red flag. If they’ve operated other companies which have closed after a short time, only to go on to open new companies, this can also be a serious red flag. This is called phoenixing and refers to when a company liquidates to avoid paying debts.

To uncover any debts or phoenixing behaviour by the builder, you can check credit reports and ASIC listings which will give you a picture of their financial situation and history.

5. Has the builder been vetted?

If you choose to work with a builder broker, one of the benefits is that all the builders on their panel will be pre-vetted. That allows you to review and compare several recommended builders at once without needing to spend the time doing the due diligence on each builder yourself. The service is free for the consumer.

6.Is the contract truly a fixed price contract?

A lot of builders will give you a supposedly fixed price contract which actually includes hidden costs for exceptions. For example, a standard contract may include a “M class” concrete slab. Armed with a geotech report after you have put down a deposit, the builder will say you now need a “H class” concrete slab which will increase the cost and possibly blow out your budget.

If you work with a builder broker they can help you avoid any hidden fees or costs and ensure the contract is sound. You may also want to get legal advice on your building contract.

The last thing you want for your building project is to see the costs and time blow out, while the quality is compromised. By taking the necessary steps to vet potential builders for your project you can make sure you secure the right builder and get the best outcome.

Lynette Manciameli
Lynette is the Co-Founder and Director of Builder Finders. Builder Finders sources Australia’s most reputable, trustworthy and vetted builders for customers’ building projects. The company is driven by a passionate desire to match the right builder with the customer’s unique building needs, while saving the customer an enormous amount of time and money.
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