How to pick a great builder

So, you’ve decided to build your dream home, or renovate your current home to give you the space you always wanted.

You’re at the start of an amazing and sometimes challenging journey. Picking a great builder is crucial to ensuring your build goes smoothly, matches the vision in your head, and gets completed on time.

Get a builder on board early

In the rush to get plans drawn up, what’s sometimes overlooked is how important it is to get your builder on board early. Even if you end up changing builders later in the process, starting out with the support of one can really give you a head start.

Talk to several builders and explain to them what you want to do. You can do this even before you’ve chosen a site for your property.

A builder can help you in so many ways. They can:

  • ‘Sanity check’ your ideas to keep you in the realms of reality (and your budget),

  • Tell you if any of your wild ideas are difficult or expensive to do,

  • Help you evaluate a site to make sure there are no hidden problems,

  • Work with your architect or draftsperson to ensure you get practical working plans,

  • Advise on planning, council applications, and pre-build engineering works.

What to ask and check

Your first task is to decide whether you want a volume house builder or a custom home builder. If you’ve found yourself on my website, I’m assuming you want to build a luxury custom home, or architectural dream home, so you’ll be looking for a qualified and experienced custom home builder.

There are many builders that are going to be capable of building whatever it is you want. Sure, they will all quote different prices. Some might um and ah about a few things. But there are many fantastic builders around.

The key is to be able to spot them and pick a good one that’s just right for you. Here are a few tips for how to find a credible builder:

  • Check credentials. Are they an accredited Master Builder? Member of a professional association? You can ask for recommendations from the Housing Industry Association or your architect or draftsperson too.

  • Do your background research online. Look for reviews and mentions on construction websites such as professional listings. In Victoria you can check the qualifications of any registered builder on the Victorian Building Authority website.

  • Once you have a shortlist of a few builders, ask them for customer references. Any reputable builder will have satisfied customers you can speak to, and maybe even visit their finished projects. You want to know from these past customers, how well the builder communicated, if they were easy to work with, and if their project was completed on time and on budget.

  • What vibe do you get from them as a person? How do they talk to you? Do they respond quickly to phone calls and emails? Did they quote promptly?

  • What was their reaction when you asked them to go a little out of their way? Do you think they will go the extra mile or just complain about everything being difficult?

  • Customer experience is a buzz term in marketing these days. But it’s also true. You need to ask yourself; what will the experience of working with this person, and their team, be like for the next year or two? Then act on what your gut tells you.

There’s lots more to building your dream home than picking your builder. That’s why I’ve put together a handy Guide to Building Your Dream Home – download it here.