Create A Great Working Relationship with Your Melbourne Builder
When you are building a custom home, your relationship with your builder will have a major impact on your experience.
Working well together will save you a lot of stress and make the whole process much easier. You will feel informed and engaged, and as though you can ask questions and challenge decisions. You may even be able to take a step back from build activities, knowing they are in good hands.
However, if you do not get along, it will be much more of a struggle. You may feel out of the loop and overlooked, and as though you cannot get information or updates. You may feel resentment, and this could cause you to have major issues with their decisions and the quality of their work.
As with any relationship, having a great connection with your builder takes work. You need to invest the time to get to know them, how they work, and what they expect from you. You will also need to be open with them about who you are and how you want to engage with them.
Here are our top tips for establishing – and maintaining – a great working relationship with your custom home builder.
Choosing the right builder
A great client-builder relationship truly starts with your first engagement. First impressions last, and it is important to find someone with whom you instantly feel a rapport. Exactly what this looks like can be difficult to explain, but you will know when you feel it.
A custom build takes many months, and you will spend a lot of time with your builder during that period. As such, you should look for someone you enjoy interacting with and feel comfortable spending time with them. You should also consider their working style as different approaches will work better for different people.
To work out whether a builder is right for you, we recommend interviewing them and asking the following questions:
How often will we be in contact? Some builders will be happy giving you a call every couple of days to provide progress updates. Others will only get in touch when they reach major milestones or are experiencing significant problems.
If I have a question or concern, how would you like me to raise it? Some builders will actively seek your feedback and provide multiple opportunities for you to raise any issues. Others will prefer to minimise contact and try to keep discussions to set times.
If you have any issues during the build, how will you handle these? Some builders will seek your advice or approval if they encounter any problems. Others will prefer to handle things themselves and make decisions on your behalf to keep the build progressing.
Will you be my main point of contact? Some builders will provide one key contact for all of your enquiries. Others will delegate responsibility for different tasks to different individuals and encourage you to contact the relevant team member.
The ‘right’ answer to each of these questions will depend on how you want your build to go. If you want to play an active role, though, you should choose a builder who will regularly involve you. If you would prefer to take a more hands-off approach, you should pick someone you can trust to take charge.
Get the documentation right
While getting along with your builder is great, it will not be enough to overcome major issues. This is where clear documentation is critical.
Once you have chosen your builder, you will need to sign their services contract before they can begin work. This document outlines what they will deliver and how you will work together, so you need to read it carefully. You should also consider getting independent legal advice on your contract to make sure you really understand what you are signing.
Most legal disputes with custom builders come from disagreements over what is included in the contract. Some companies make most of their profit from variations and will charge significant fees for any changes to your plans. As such, you should make sure you finalise, and clearly document, your design before signing your builder’s contract.
Communication is the key
It sounds like a cliché, but it really is true – good communication is the foundation of any great relationship. And, to trot out another cliché, it really needs to be a two-way street.
It is only natural that you will have questions and concerns during your build. A good custom builder will understand this and take the time to address any issues you have. However, you will need to be willing to have the conversation, as leaving things unsaid can create unwanted tension.
You should also try to show your builder the same courtesy you expect to receive. For example, if you want your calls to be treated as a priority, you need to be responsive when your builder contacts you. Taking your time getting back to them suggests you do not value their time and are happy to incur some delays.
Managing your emotions
Building a new home can be an extremely stressful process. Whether you are creating the perfect space for your family or realising a long-held dream (or both!), there will be plenty of emotion involved. There will also be a lot riding on the project – both financially and personally – and you will want to get everything just right.
As custom builders specialise in bespoke designs, they have a unique understanding of these pressures. They should be able to help you feel at ease throughout the process and stay focused on the big picture. However, there will still be some tense moments where both you and your builder need to measure your reactions.
At these times, remember that your builder is a professional and that you are paying for their expertise. While you may not agree with their advice, you have to respect their knowledge and experience. You should also try to understand where they are coming from and the issues they have with your decisions.
Trust and empowerment
While you should have a clear build schedule, things change, and timelines shift. As such, you need to be somewhat flexible and have faith that your builder can manage issues as they arise.
How often you ‘check up’ on your builder is one of the most obvious signs of this trust. Constantly calling them with questions and concerns will suggest that you are not comfortable with the quality of their work. It can also cause a lot of frustration and may even slow down progress on your build.
By contrast, enabling your builder to make some decisions on your behalf can actually help keep things moving on site. This shows you have faith in their skills and advice and value their knowledge and experience. Obviously, you should still be involved in decisions that affect your design, but minor issues can be deferred to your builder.
Acknowledgement and encouragement
For custom builders, reputation is everything. As many companies get most of their work from referrals, they know how crucial it is to keep their clients happy. Most also take great pride in their work and are committed to creating high-quality bespoke homes.
With this in mind, your builder will always respond well to you acknowledging their hard work. From a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘great job’, to a small token of your appreciation, any recognition will be well received. After all, we all enjoy a bit of encouragement.
Need some relationship advice?
As one of Melbourne’s leading custom builders, Carmel Homes understands the massive difference a productive client-builder relationship can make. We take the time to get to know our clients and make sure all expectations are clearly communicated and agreed. We also provide a single point of contact for every project and are always happy to tailor our service approach.
To discuss your new home, duplex, or townhouse build, we invite you to contact us today.