You’re in the market for a renovation or addition on your home, but where can you find a builder that is reliable, will minimise the disruption to your family and deliver maximum quality on your investment that will stand the test of time?
You may have been referred to builders by people you trust, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that the builder will be trustworthy. So who do you contact and what should you look out for when contemplating taking the first steps on your building journey? We’ve put together a list of things you should consider when making your decision to select a builder;
1. Do they specialise in your type of build?
You might assume this is obvious, however, it’s vital to ensure that the builder you choose is well-established and reputable. Search for a builder who has experience in the type and style of build you are looking for and see if they are able to provide references for a number of jobs they have completed.
Always do your research – look at their website, social media pages and online presence. Are their projects active and up to date? Can you see samples of their work? How long have they been operating for?
2. Do they belong to a builder’s association?
Builders that have a professional membership in the industry eg. Housing Industry Association (HIA) and Master Builders Association (MBA) participate in continuing education and stay up to date with best practices, new technology and innovations within the field. This ultimately means that these builders will use the newest and correct practices when constructing your home.
3. Are they licenced and insured?
A good indicator of a high-quality builder is one that’s fully licenced and
insured – and that they can provide you with those details upon request.
It’s vital for you and your builder to be protected and insured in the event
that something goes wrong.
Examples of insurance that may be required by the builder are;
- Public Liability Insurance
- Workers Compensation Insurance
- Contract of Works Insurance and;
- Home Warranty Insurance (for all builds over $20K)
You can do a licence check of your builder through the Fair-Trading website, however, we also recommend that you request a copy of their insurances before engaging with them to ensure your family and your investment are protected.
4. Are they able to provide client testimonials or reviews?
The sign of a reputable and successful builder is one that is able to provide
a list of client references from the past, most recent and from those currently going
through the building process with them. This is a good indication that they have been
delivering high-quality service to their clients consistently throughout their years in business.
5. Is there clear communication from the beginning?
Good builders are responsive right from the beginning of your interaction with them. This shows that they invest in their team to ensure that customers and their experience is at the forefront of their business. A builder and their team should be available to communicate with you throughout the project, even after practical completion.
6. The cheapest quote may not result in a quality build
Be wary of going with the cheapest estimate a builder may put in front of you. When searching for a builder ensure you are making as direct a comparison as possible. It is always important to compare apples for apples; a higher quoted price may result in less unforeseen costs and expenses. By choosing a significantly cheaper quote be aware that you can run the risk of finding out halfway through your build that you have been underquoted and the builder is unable to fulfil your project, leaving you stranded and stressed, putting a strain on the family and your investment.
7. Do they offer fixed priced contracts?
Beware of quotations and contracts with a long list of ‘estimates’ and ‘TBA’s’. To avoid a blow-out in costs which could end up exceeding your budget or not being to afford to complete your build, ask for a fixed price contract.
There will be items that a builder cannot foresee such as soil removal, asbestos removal and termite damage, however, the builder should be upfront and discuss these items with you during the planning process. This allows you to properly plan things and have a contingency plan in place.
8. How does the builder operate?
Does the builder utilise sub-contractors to complete your build or do they employ their own team? A benefit of choosing a builder that employs their own tradespeople to complete your build is that they invest in the proper training and management of their team. This also means that they have greater control of the quality and the speed of the build as they will be coordinating the trades across their builds. By limiting the number of sub-contractors being used, your builder can ensure that you know who is working at your home, giving you peace of mind that your family is safe and secure and that disruption is kept to a minimal.
At 32 Degrees Building, we specialise in additions, extensions and renovations. We believe in putting the clients first and have a support team there for you during your build to address any of your concerns throughout the process. We are licenced, fully insured and are more than happy to provide you with references from our clients, past, recent and in progress if you would like to discuss their building experience.
To fund an addition or extension on your home, you may find yourself applying for a Construction Loan with your lender. This is all well and good, however, you may find that the lender will not formally approve and release funds until plans, Council approval and a Contract is in place outlining the progress stage payments of the build. So, to get to this point, how much should you expect to outlay? The short answer is that we find for most of our clients it’s around $20K to complete the preliminary stage.
Here at 32 Degrees Building we break it down into two manageable costs for our clients and below is an explanation of the preliminary process to help you as a client understand what happens before we can issue contracts and start your build:
Preliminary Phase 1: Design and development of your architectural plans
This is the start of your building journey with us. This starts from $7,500, this allows for a draftsperson to come out and meet with you, talk you through your ideas, then design your initial concept plan. Usually, a few tweaks may be required and then you can sign off your concept plan and the full architectural drawings can be created and a 3D visual can be prepared.
Once your plans are complete (sitemap, elevations, shadow diagrams, floor plans etc..) the documents required to support your plans and lodgement to Council application are prepared, these include your;
- Statement of Environmental Effects – Details the potential environmental impacts the proposed build will have.
- Waste Management Plan – Applies to all homes across Australia and explains how waste generated onsite will be managed, maintained and disposed of.
- BASIX – The Building Sustainability Index applies to all residential homes across NSW and is part of the Development Application process.
There may be additional supporting documents required (e.g. Bushfire Report, Flood Report, Acoustic Report etc…)
Preliminary Phase 2: Council Lodgement – Development Application & Construction Certificate OR Complying Development Consent
This next step is where we will lodge your plans to Council either as a Complying Development Consent OR as a Development Application and Construction Certificate
CDC or DA/CC fees will be advised once plans are developed and a Council fee quote can be provided. The preparation of the lodgement for either CDC or DA/CC starts from $7,500. Here we obtain the additional relevant documentation needed in order for your build to be ready to start and this includes;
- Engineering plans and if a first floor addition a first floor certification to confirm your existing home will support the addition
- Sydney Water check – To confirm that your build will not impact any of Sydney Waters assets
- Sewer Service Diagram – We obtain this for the plumber to see where the existing connections to the home are
- Long Service Levy – Applies to all residential works over $20K
- Home Warranty Insurance – Applies to all residential works over $20K
- and any other supporting documents as required
How long does this process take? Well, this all depends on the Council, the service providers and you as the client. We find that from planning to Council approval to issuing you with contracts can take around 3/4 months. Once your build cost and inclusions have been finalised and your HIA fixed price contract has been issued you can then provide these to your lender in order to finalise your finance approval.
If you haven’t built before or have no knowledge of the building and construction industry then preparing all of these documents can seem quite daunting. That’s why with us, you would have us as your main point of contact to do all of the hard work for you. We even liaise between yourself and the draftsperson to help you stay within your budget when developing your plans and address any of the questions you have about the build along the way.
To get started on your building journey with us, we ask you to download our packages or complete our pre-quote enquiry form and tell us what you would like to build, from there one of our team members will be in touch with you.