8 Ways to Find a Quality Builder That You Can Trust
Choosing to build is a big deal. Whether it’s your dream home, a bespoke development, or a major renovation or extension, there will be plenty of decisions to be made and more than a little time and energy (not to mention money!) to be spent.
It’s also a very long process. Getting from design to completion can easily take over 18 months. Throughout this time, you will need to call on the expertise of a wide range of professionals – but none more important than your builder.
In many ways, your builder will guide you through the construction process. They will be your eyes and ears on-site and help you identify and overcome any issues. They will also need to act on your behalf at certain times, liaising with your suppliers and managing all of your trades.
With all this in mind, being able to trust your builder is critical. You need to know that not only can they do the job, but that they understand your vision and have your best interests at heart. You need to feel confident that they respect you, and even when you are not around, they will look out for you and act as if you were.
But with so many builders out there, and most of them seemingly providing the same services, how do you find a good one?
1. Search for a specialist
From unusual building techniques to rare materials, there is almost no limit to how bespoke your build can be. But choosing a custom home may mean unique challenges during the construction process. Even something as simple as a curved wall can require specialist skills.
With that in mind, it is important to find someone with the specific experience to deal with the unique quirks of your build. Depending on your design, this could mean that there are as few as a handful of people in all of Australia to choose from, or that you need to find someone who has done something similar and is willing to learn a new technique. Either way, you will need to do some research and, as always, the internet is a great place to start.
2. Look out for a local
In addition to looking great when the keys are handed over, a quality home should last through the wear and tear of daily life once you have moved in. If any corners were cut during the build process, these would quickly become apparent once you start using the space. That is why, even after you move in, builders are obligated to address any issues that arise due to work not being carried out properly or to a sufficient standard.
When your builder is not based in your area, it is harder to follow up on this obligation. Once they have finished your job and received your final payment, they can roll onto their next project and quickly forget about any issues with yours. However, when you use a local builder, they are easy to track down and can respond quickly to any urgent issues.
Also, local builders tend to be more acutely aware of the impact that shoddy work can have on their reputation. They know that people talk and that word would get around quickly if they did not finish the job correctly or left you high and dry if there was an issue once you moved in.
3. Preference quality over quantity
Some believe that choosing a larger construction company is the safer option, but that’s not necessarily true. While a larger company may be able to balance their books across multiple projects, having more jobs on the go can actually put them at greater financial risk if something goes wrong.
You’ll also give up a lot of the personal touch when you work with a larger company. To keep costs down, these businesses generally employ multiple teams – often made up of subcontractors – and circulate them through their various jobs. In addition to not knowing who will be on-site at any given time, the constant changing of trades could make communication much harder.
When you choose a smaller builder, you’re much more likely to have a single contact to speak to if you have any questions or issues. They will also have greater ownership of the project, as the same team will see it through, from start to finish. This should mean more attention paid to the details and getting the finish just right.
4. Try to speak to a previous client
Every decent building company will have a portfolio of the amazing properties they have worked on. While these are great to look at and can give you some sense of the finishes they can achieve, they only tell part of the story.
When reviewing their portfolio, pick out the property that is most like your project and ask to speak to the owner. This will give you a better sense of how the company works. While this may not be possible (they would need to check with the client before handing out their details), it could be a chance to get direct feedback on both the company and the quality of their work. Also, do not be afraid to focus on the negatives – like any issues they had or anything they would do differently – as this will help you understand what to look out for when working with that builder.
5. Start with those closest to you
Chances are that you know at least one person who has built recently. It could be a friend, a family member, or even your neighbours. Whoever it is, ask them who they used and how they found the experience.
Those closest to you will have a good sense of how you operate and can advise if their builder’s style will work for you. If they have already moved into their new home, they should also be able to comment on the quality of the workmanship and how it holds up to daily life. And even if they warn you against the builder they used, at least you will know who to avoid and can scrub one name off your list!
Best of all, being referred by a previous client can give you a real ‘in’ with the builder. They will know that you have already seen their handiwork and can use that as a reference point when speaking about your build. Having someone in common could also help break the ice and provide the basis for beginning to build rapport.
6. Look around online
A quick Google search will likely turn up a long list of builders who service your area. It should also provide at least a few reviews by previous clients. This can be a great jumping-off point and should help you at least come up with a bit of a shortlist.
From there, you can explore the website of each of the companies you are considering. While not all builders will have their own dedicated site, any professional outfit should have at least some web presence. Pay particular attention to the quality of homes each builder chooses to showcase and look out for properties that are similar to what you are planning to build.
7. Speak to other industry professionals
If you are working with an architect or draftsperson, ask them who they would recommend. They will know the potential challenges of your build and should be able to recommend someone with the right kind of experience. Also, choosing someone your design team knows could help down the track, if there are any issues with the build or your plans need to be adjusted.
If you already have someone in mind, check what your design team thinks about them. If they know them, they should be able to provide feedback on both their technical skills and personal approach. And if they have never heard of them, that could be a red flag.
You can also consult the competition and ask each of the builders you interview about the other companies you are considering. While you will need to take any comments with a grain of salt (putting down their competition is in their best interest), it could provide some insight into what you should be looking out for with each company. Also, if anyone seems overly eager to trash talk their peers, that says a lot about who they are and how they operate.
8. Check with the peak bodies
Organisations like the Master Builders Association of Victoria and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) exist to maintain the standards and integrity of the building industry. Members of such organisations are not only fully licensed and accredited; they must pass stringent checks on both the quality and consistency of their work. This means that when you choose a Master Builder or HIA member, you can be assured of a high level of experience and professionalism.
Both of these organisations provide a member search function, meaning you can look for associated builders in your area and price range. They also allow you to filter by specialisation, helping you further target your search on the exact services you need.
The Carmel Homes Difference
Carmel Homes is a price-competitive and service-focused family business, operating primarily in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to achieve a common goal: building beautiful craftsman homes that breathe quality - your dream home. Every project we undertake has a company director present, and we are always contactable.
To discuss your new home, duplex, or townhouse build, we invite you to contact us today.