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Choosing the right builder is as important as choosing the right style of home or the right neighbourhood. All of these decisions affect you—positively or negatively—long after your home is built. How do you know what builder is right for you? There is no single answer to this question, unfortunately. You have to rely on your own instincts to make the right decision.

Here are some suggestions and guidelines that will help you choose the right builder:

Do your research

Internet? Google? Yellow pages? Local paper? There are almost as many ways to find a builder as there are homes to be built. The obvious sources are a good start, but smart researchers step outside the usual avenues and speak to the people who really know.

Start with the builders’ governing body. The Master Builder’s Association can provide lists of registered builders in your area.

Visit some homes

Every good custom builder will have a portfolio of properties to show you – but don’t stop there. Ask to visit homes under construction, or recently completed (allowing for the privacy of the owners). At the very least you should be able to drive by some completed projects.

Ask for references

A quality custom builder will have strong connections with contractors, suppliers and lenders. Speaking to these connections will give the truest picture of whether your builder will deliver on time, on budget and on quality. Ask for names of previous customers and try find out how responsive your builder has been. Has the builder responded quickly to complaints? Has the builder provided the customer with help in gaining satisfaction with manufacturer warranty claims?

The builder’s overall reputation

That goes for most any kind of purchases you make. If the company’s reputation is poor, you’re probably not going to want to buy from them. Homeowners in the area in which you’re planning to build are a good resource when finding information about different builders. You can find out if there have been any major complaints about the builders you’re considering. Very good and very bad builder reputations usually surface quickly. The builders who are in the middle of very good and very bad are usually harder to investigate.

By avoiding these common mistakes you’re more likely to enjoy a stress free build and eliminate budget blow outs.

What is the true pricing?

Price is obviously a big factor and should be a consideration, but not because it’s the highest or the lowest. It is only natural to be drawn to the quote that will save you some money, but if that quote is significantly cheaper than the other quotes then you should be very careful before you select that builder. Initially your builder should give you a house price, estimated site costs and prices on any additional items you might wish to accompany your home. This will give you a good indication of what you are looking to spend.

‘Turnkey’ doesn’t always mean ‘Turnkey’

A true ‘turnkey’ house package should be ready to rent or live in, including a TV antenna, clothesline, floor coverings, wall paint, window treatments and rear landscaping. Unfortunately, some building companies advertise a product as turnkey without all of these necessary items. Ask for a breakdown of all the inclusions and make sure everything you need is included in the turnkey package.

Not all homes are created equal

Don’t let builders dazzle you with the cheapest price they can put in front of you. If you’re shopping around, ensure you are ‘comparing apples with apples’, making as direct a comparison as possible. Ask the builder for definitive standard inclusions list with as much detail as possible to ensure what you might get with one builder is not considered and additional upgrade to another builder.

Builder promotions

Watch out for builder promotions offering big discounts and bonus inclusions. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is. Look for real value.

Fixed prices

Beware contracts with a long list of ‘estimates’ and ‘TBA’s’. To avoid a blow-out in costs, ask for a fixed price.
Leave no stone unturned and ensure you have information about every cost. Keep an eye out for clauses such as ‘pending soil test’.

Display homes

Don’t be distracted by extravagant display homes. Some builders won’t even construct many of the impressive features they have on show within their displays.

When visiting display homes, ask what the display price does and does not include – the floors, wall paint, air-conditioning and high-ceilings may be extra! Pay particular attention to the specification sheet and don’t be shy to ask for a total price.
Ask if they will build the home ‘as displayed’ and provide you with a fully itemised cost.

Choosing a builder who is right for your project can be the difference between a massive headache and an enjoyable, hassle-free project.
It’s important to know what to expect from your builder. And remember – it is always better to ask upfront than to find out critical information when it’s too late.

For an honest and unbiased opinion or to discuss your requirements with an industry expert, talk to Think and Grow Finance today on 03 8390 5855 or email