Articles - New Homes

5 more tips on choosing and working with builders

13th June 2017

From investing in a single point of management for your project, to understanding the building landscape with a bidding process, here’s 5 more handy tips to think about when looking for your builder and making that final decision.

“We’re massive fans of understanding as much as is practical. There’s nothing worse than investing the time, money and passion involved in a new home, and then feeling in the dark and out of control. Do what you need to do to feel informed and confident with your choices.” -

Embrace bidding

Competitive bidding involves getting alternative prices from different builders for the same work. Of course, they all have to be given the same brief and specifications to ensure a level playing field. This is a great way for you to understand the landscape and the building market as it stands when you are about to start your new home. We suggest sending your new home specs to 4 or 5 builders for quotes. Bear in mind that this process involves plenty of time for the builder, so keep it realistic, be open with them that you are engaging in the process, and keep the numbers down so the chance of winning your project is fair.

One point of responsibility

Saving money by engaging separate tradespeople can be tempting, but it’s a high-risk strategy. Yes, a general building contractor will take a percentage of the costs from the subcontractors, but in the majority of cases, they more than earn their money. Coordinating multiple trades on site takes skill and experience, and if it’s not managed properly, can quickly produce dramatic blow-outs. We suggest you avoid the temptation of doing it yourself. So often DIY project managers end up in a horrible, stressful mess that costs time, money and compromises the quality of the finished home.

The importance of a building contract

Simply put, a building contract is an agreement between a builder and a client. The builder agrees to build the home to the agreed spec, for the agreed budget, and the client agrees to pay a set amount of money. There are all sorts of contracts, but a version we are fans of includes the drawings and schedules attached to the contract. This makes it as clear as possible what’s included and what’s not.

Perhaps the most important thing the contract does is detail the 'what ifs'. These might include contingencies if the scope of work is changed, or the project is taking longer than agreed. In a perfect world, and in most cases, once the contract is signed it isn’t needed again because everything has gone to plan. We also think that having the contract there in the first place actually helps things go to plan!

Who does the ‘rough-in’ and finish work

With kitchens and bathrooms, the rough-in involves bringing the services (plumbing, electrical and waste) to the right places. That means pipes and cables installed in walls and floors and left poking out. The finish work involves finishing taps, cabinets, appliances, light fittings, tiles etc. and connecting them to the pipes and cables that were set in place during the ‘rough-in’.

Some people ask their builder to take care of both processes, but it’s also common for the finish work to be done by the supplier of the kitchen or bathroom. This works just fine as long as everyone understands exactly what they are responsible for.

One thorough inspection list

Most disputes take place in the final stages, so it’s important to be ready to meet the most common sticking points. Everyone tends to be happy while the project is moving forward fast, but towards the end of the build there will be many, many small items requiring various trades and this is challenging to organise. Plus, at this point, you and your builder can both see the finishing line, and everyone is very keen to complete the project, move in, and move on.

Our best best advice is to be highly organised. Make sure your communications are crystal clear on timing and milestones, and give your builder the space to do what’s needed. When it comes to the final inspections, tour the new home and site with your builder and agree on one definitive list of items that need further attention.