How to Review a Custom Home Builder in Melbourne
These days, our home is increasingly being seen as a reflection of our lifestyle and per-sonality. As most of us are spending more time at home at the moment, we want to have a space that feels unique and special. We also want to have easy access to all the luxuries that we enjoy the most.
This has led to many people seeking out a custom builder to help them bring their dream home to life. But, while there is no shortage of custom builders in Melbourne, choosing the right one can be hard.
When you are building a standard home, choosing a builder is fairly straightforward. They have a set stock of designs they build regularly, and it is easy to check the quality of their work. Comparisons are also a little more direct, allowing you to focus on finding the best value for money.
However, when you are building custom home, there is no perfect baseline. While each builder should have a portfolio of previous work, chances are none will be exactly like your property. So, how do you tell the professionals from the pretenders?
Check out their portfolio and reviews
It is unlikely you will find a builder that has previously delivered projects exactly the same as yours. It will actually make your design less custom if they have! However, any build-ers you are considering should still be able to give you an indication of the type of work they do. Look through this carefully as it will provide you with a good sense of the quality of their work and their attention to detail.
Also, ask about their experience with any specialised features you are planning to incor-porate into your build. Whether it is a unique material, difficult design element, or unusu-al building technique that you are after, you want to work with a builder that understands it. This does not necessarily mean that they must have done it before; rather that they at least know what is involved.
Check the budget of their previous projects
While reviewing their portfolio, pay close attention to how much was spent on each of their previous jobs. This may not be entirely within their control, but it will give you an in-dication of the type of clients they have previously worked with. It should also provide some insight into the size of their previous builds and the quality of materials they have worked with.
You should also talk to any builders you are considering working with about their ap-proach to budget management. Ask them about any previous overruns they have had to deal with and how they dealt with that. While not ideal, budget blowouts happen, and you want to know you are working with someone who understands that.
You also want to know that the business is stable enough to be able to take on your job and actually finish it. You hand over a lot of money to a builder – particularly a custom builder – and the last thing you want to do is lose it all or be left in the lurch mid-project.
Check how many jobs they do a year
While you want a builder that has relevant experience, you do not want one that is over-committed. A custom build requires more attention than a standard design, which means fewer jobs per year. This is one of the reasons a custom builder is usually more expen-sive.
The measure of how many jobs they can reasonably take on each year will depend on the size of the company. However, you can use this point as an opportunity to talk to your prospective builders about their project management approach.
Also, ask them whether it will be the same team on site for the whole build or different trades at different phases. Generally speaking, working one team throughout is better as it makes it easier to manage. Also, if the same team is there start to finish, they will usually be more invested in delivering a high-quality final product.
Check out the credentials
Any builder you work with should be fully licensed. All of their team needs to be suitably experienced and qualified. Compromising on this exposes you to a lot of risk, both finan-cially and in the quality of the build.
Ideally, in addition to meeting all the legal requirements, you should look for a company that is recognised by the major industry bodies, like the Master Builders Association. These organisations are committed to maintaining or improving industry standards. As part of this, they regularly check that the work their members are delivering meets their minimum requirements.
Check out their online reviews
Online reviews (on sites like Google and Facebook) can also provide some good, unfil-tered insight into a builder’s reputation. However, it is important to remember that not be-ing able to moderate online reviews is a double-edged sword. While it encourages candid feedback to be provided, it also allows unfounded or unfair grievances to be aired – and there are plenty of stories of builders who have had their reputations unfairly ruined.
Also, make sure you read their testimonials and ask to speak to a former client. This should give you a sense of what the builder was like to work with, as well as the quality of work they do. If possible, request the previous client you speak to rather than just going with who the builder recommends. And, if you do get to speak to a former client, do not be afraid to ask some tough questions, like any issues they had or things they would not do again.
Check their knowledge of the local area
A local builder will not only be easier to work with; they should understand the unique challenges of building in your area. From planning permissions to the type of soil, there is a range of highly localised factors to consider. While these things may seem small, if they are not correctly managed, they can impact the speed of the build, budget, and overall quality. A local builder – or at least one with experience building in the local area – will know how to work within these restrictions.
Check whether they understand your vision and requirements
A custom build is exactly that – customised to meet the unique tastes, desires, and re-quirements of the people building it. As such, it is critical that your builder understands where you are coming from and what you are trying to achieve.
Making sure you are on the same page upfront will help prevent issues down the track. When there are challenges during the build (and there will be a few!), you may need to compromise. A builder that understands your vision can better help you navigate this, as they will know what is most important to you.
You also need to know that you will be able to work with your builder. You do not need to be best friends, but there has to be some kind of rapport. The build process could take up to several years, and there will be tense moments, so working with someone you like and enjoy dealing with can make a world of difference.
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.