Building Dos and Don’ts
Though it ranks as a crowning achievement in the minds of most people, the process of building a home is seldom a dream experience. Exciting and satisfying though it may be, it takes astute planning, evaluation and careful decision-making in order for things to turn out right. Selecting a builder is an important part of that process, and one that deserves consideration as early as possible.
Whether or not you decide to work with an architect on the design, a good builder can be one of your closest allies and advocates before, during and even after construction. As I have advised the many people who approach Master Builders for help, the key to a successful working relationship with a builder is clear and regular communication. With that in mind, the first step in building your new home is choosing a registered builder.
A registered builder comes to your project prepared with rigorous training and experience to shepherd your house project from beginning to end. They have provided proper documentation of their credentials and demonstrated the skills specified by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) which oversees the registration of all homebuilders in the state. Working with an unregistered builder may put you at risk, potentially compromising the quality of design and construction, and exposing you to nightmarish structural and legal troubles even long after the project is completed. Important, too, is using registered tradespeople for the same reasons. Registered trades help to ensure a baseline of competence and skill that you shouldn’t have to gamble on.
But before you look for your builder, you need to do some homework. Develop a comprehensive budget and have clear, detailed plans for what you would like to achieve. Having a clear understanding of what you can afford to invest in your new home isn’t so much about defining the limits of what you can achieve, but finding ways to get the most for your money with a builder as enthusiastic about your house as you are. The sooner you’re able to offer specific goals and realistic figures, the better; it helps to ensure that the two factors are considered simultaneously at every stage.
Next, ask for references and try to look at—perhaps even visit—examples of the builder’s previous and current work. Not only will this give you the chance to evaluate their finished product, but seeing a home under construction can also give you an idea of what your property may look and feel like once it becomes an active work site.
Once you’ve got your budget squared away, you should collect at least three quotes from different builders to see what your budget will buy you. You can expect there to be at least some difference in what various builders say they can deliver, and having the perspective of different quotes can help sharpen and refine your goals even further.
The attraction to building your home is a strong one, and getting the construction under way is hard to resist. But taking time to do good research before selecting a builder can pay big practical and emotional dividends in the long run. Master Builders Association of Victoria makes your research easier with membership requirements that help ensure a high professional standard of work, including builder registration, background checks and the opportunity to view a wide portfolio of completed work in the awards section of our website, mbav.com.au and in our publications. If you have any questions, we’re ready to help you find solutions.
Building Dos & Don’ts
- Consult Master Builders Association of Victoria’s website tool “Find a Master Builder”
- Obtain at least three written quotes
- Check with family and friends who have recently used a registered builder and have been happy with their work
- Inspect recent projects completed by builders and, if possible, ask clients their opinion of the workmanship
- Ensure the builder can provide warranty insurance for the building work
- Engage unregistered builders or tradespeople
- Sign the building contract before you have thoroughly read and understood it
Words: Radley de Silva, Master Builders Association of Victoria CEO