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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Glasson

How to choose a builder

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

There is a LOT riding on this decision, so it's important to get it right! And may we gently remind you that there's much more to weigh up than just price. ⁠

You're investing a lot of time and money in this process and you need to start with a good gut feeling about the relationship and communication you'll have with your builder. You may want to meet with 2-3 builders to help you feel certain about your decision. ⁠

Once you've got a good feeling about your choice, it helps to read online reviews, testimonials, or even speak to previous clients about their experience. ⁠

You also need a good understanding of the builder's team size, lead times and likely time frame for construction. Where do you fit in to their current pipeline, what are the risks of delays, best and worst case scenario etc.

Make sure your job will have the builder or a dedicated site manager onsite for the majority of the project to ensure a quality finish, contractor direction as well as regular onsite meetings with you. You want to have clear, open and regular communication to ensure you're across progress and the various decisions that need to be made along the way. ⁠Find out how the builder will be communicating with you throughout the project so that you're across little decisions that need to be made along the way, and in particular any budget changes or out of scope costs. On top of regular meetings with our clients, we use an app that clients can view throughout the project to see pictures, monitor their timeline and track their budget.

Is the builder happy for you to visit the site regularly to check in and touch base? These are the times that you often find little questions to be answered along the way that ensure you get the result you want in the end.

At Shire Build we're extremely proud to have an excellent record of thrilled past clients who are happy to vouch for us. So often they reiterate that it was our attention to detail and close communication from both the director and their site manager that made them feel thoroughly confident in how their project was being run. ⁠

owner builder

Another option is running your project as an Owner Builder. ⁠

According to NSW Department of Fair Trading, "An owner-builder permit is for people who have the skill or capacity to build their own house or supervise construction work. While an owner-builder permit is not a builder’s licence, as an owner-builder, you are responsible for the building work as a fully licensed builder would be.

As an owner-builder, you are responsible for:

  • Overseeing and supervising all tradespeople

  • Ordering materials and managing the building site

  • Obtaining all necessary council and authority approvals

  • Ensuring that the financial, taxation and insurance requirements of the building work are met and fully comply with all laws

  • Being aware of your obligations under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to provide a safe work environment that complies with SafeWork NSW requirements. Significant penalties may apply if you don’t meet this obligation. Our dealing with hazardous materials page has more information on some possible risks, such as asbestos and lead

  • Ensuring any contractor engaged is appropriately licensed and insured to do the work contracted for

  • Warranting that the materials and work will be fit for the purpose and result in a dwelling that can be occupied."

That means taking on the project yourself: coordinating all the materials and sub contractors. Some builders are willing to undertake the structural build under specific contract conditions where there are clearly defined responsibilities and liabilities for each party. It can make it tricky for warranties when you have multiple trades and businesses working on interconnected areas of the build.

This option can offer cost savings, but requires heavy time involvement and risk to you. If you’ve never had experience in construction it’s probably not the right option for you. If you have previous project management experience in a similar field, some construction know-how and a fair bit of time on your hands, it could be ideal for you. ⁠

See our checklist for choosing a builder for a more detailed list of what to look for before deciding on a builder and signing a contract.

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