9 Things to Look for in a Builder

Who should build your new home or commercial property? How do you know who can be counted on to deliver a quality product, on time, on budget?

The answer is twofold. Firstly, it depends on the style and requirements of your construction project. Is it a small job, a complete home, an architectural design, or a large commercial structure? Not every builder can handle each of those categories — most specialise in the niche they are most skilled and comfortable in.

Secondly, it depends on proof. Proof? What does that mean?

You want a builder who won’t lead you into a horror story of project delays, budget blowouts and shoddy workmanship. You need proof that they are legit, capable and trustworthy.

Now, the easiest way to uncover proof on the ideal builder for your project is to ask your friendly quantity surveyor. We live and breathe the construction industry. We know who is easy to work with and who isn’t. We know which companies have been doing great work for years and who are struggling. Just ask.

But if you’d rather do the sleuthing yourself, here are 9 things to look for from your potential builder.

1. Look for the License

In New Zealand, a builder must be appropriately licensed to undertake certain kinds of work, especially projects involving the structure or weather tightness of buildings. Is your builder a LBP (Licensed Building Practitioner)?

2. Look for the Badge

Is the builder a member of a trade or industry association such as the NZ Certified Builders Association or Registered Master Builders Association of NZ? However, remember this — anyone can say they are a member of an organisation. It pays to check with the organisation itself to verify a bona fide membership is in place. Plus, there are excellent builders and tradespeople who do not belong to such organisations.

3. Ask Around

You will have friends, family, colleagues, neighbours who have used a builder recently. A personal recommendation is worth its weight in gold as they are unlikely to gloss over their project experience. One telling question to ask is: would you use the same builder again?

4. Ask for References

Nobody in business is going to provide you with any testimonial that’s less than glowing, so take any praise for the builder with a grain of salt. A good idea is to ask for contact details of referees in order to speak with a couple of the builder’s clients directly and, if possible, see the work for yourself. Ask them how they found (or are finding) the construction process. What would they have the builder do differently if there was a next time? What was the quality of workmanship? How efficient was the communication?

5. Look for Awards

Has your prospective builder won any construction awards? When, and in what categories? But remember, there are many builders who do not take the time to enter trade or industry awards yet produce quality homes and buildings.

6. Check the Insurances

A reputable builder should have insurance cover to protect themselves against property damage, plus personal and public liability policies to protect you (and the public) in case an accident or injury occurs.

7. Ask for Guarantees

Is the builder offering any form of guarantee on the completed project? You’ll have heard of the Master Build 10-Year Guarantee, but is there any other form of peace of mind available?

8. Confirm the Process

What is their process for inspections throughout construction? How do they address matters that need to be corrected or modified during, and after, the build?

9. Confirm the Timeline

Builders are often booked for work well in advance, especially if they are skilled. It pays to start your search early, even before the design process is complete.

By checking off these 9 steps, you are more likely to align your building project with a trustworthy, qualified, quality builder. And remember, to shortcut this lengthy investigation process, we have an extensive selection of vetted construction teams we would happily recommend for consideration on your next project. From renovations to off-the-shelf plans, architectural homes and commercial buildings, we know who your ideal builder could be.

James Cameron is a professional quantity surveyor, licensed building practitioner (carpentry, Site 3) and director of Property Values Ltd.


021 288 1311

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