Ten things you need to know or do before working with your builder
Obtain as many quotes as you like. A general rule of thumb is the magic number three - but, when looking at the numbers, make sure you are comparing like for like. Generally, there are three basic types:
- Quotations - the actual price you will pay for the cost of work.
- Estimations - a ballpark figure based on a relative understanding of variables at hand.
- Guestimations - exactly what it sounds like, a guess, which seldom works in your favour.
Always ask for a breakdown to ensure clarity on which type you are getting from your builder. We also recommend asking a builder for references from previous jobs, as well as photos of the work carried out.
2. Vision decision
Map out your vision. Know what you want. Find pictures, even clip images out of magazines to illustrate your wish list - this helps bring a common understanding of the end goal and facilitates the conversation with your builder.
3. Time for tea
Now that you know what you want, tell your builder - specifically! If you make any changes, always document your requests. This helps to make sure that wires don't get crossed. Most importantly, at the first sign of a problem, address the issue head on with a site meeting. Talk it through sooner, rather than later, to avoid tension or misunderstanding.
4. Rules and Procedures
Right from the start, lay down some ground rules with your builder to help set expectations. For example:
- Ask for a daily start and finish time.
- Come up with a procedure for using your washing facilities and kitchen facilities.
- Do you want them to take off their shoes when walking through the house?
5. Nosey Neighbours
It's a good idea to tell the neighbours what you've got going on. Renovations, refurbishments, conversions, and other works, can be messy - and at times cause distress to the surrounding environment. Think about how you want to handle parking, on-site music policies, and who is responsible for deliveries. Having a chat with your neighbours will avoid them getting up in arms about dust or noise.
6. Mind your pets
If you have fuzzy friends living with you in your home, make sure they are secure - builders go in and out many times throughout the day so the chances of your cat or dog making a bolt for it are high!
Think about what kind of payment plan you want to set up. Cash in hand is a preferred method for some builders, but may cause problems down the line. Stage payments, bank transfers and cheques are the ideal way to monitor and confirm that payments have been made.
At the end of the project, it's a good idea to ask for a walk through with the builder. Hold onto a retainer for snagging, until building control has signed off the work and you've received all necessary paperwork - any certification for council / electrical compliance certificates should be issued prior to payment.
It's always a good idea to ask to see a copy of the builder's insurance. If you want to be really thorough - check with the provider in relation to status and expiry dates and make sure your project is covered throughout the project time period.
If you're having the builder manage the materials, make sure they are getting the kind of quality that you expect. Better still, ask for detailed descriptions in the quote. Before you hand over the final payment ask for guarantees on the products. Check with your local council to be sure you have the documentation that you need.