What makes a consultancy fee a good investment? Through a paid consultation a builder is enabled to dedicate their time and care in which they can apply a holistic approach to an entire project (with or without plans) delivering a detailed build cost estimate. They are providing you with a valuable time based service that should leave you feeling educated, empowered and aware of the possible next step(s) forward with your investment. A paid consultation is inclusive of the builder not only meeting with you at your home; but also spending time researching your needs, sourcing prices and products, liaising with relevant trades and suppliers, it can also include contacting the council, a draftsman, an engineer and any additional specialists (such as a bushfire consultant) before delivering you an accurate tailored solution which will enable you to make an informed decision on your investment.Through this process you are also being educated about the build and the valuable information you receive should be followed with a responsive service that will lead to an accurate proposal and tailored solution for your home – your investment, your family, your lifestyle, and your goals. By investing in a paid consultation; You are investing in yourself.
When I say you are educating yourself, what does that mean? Throughout their career a builder will work across multiple projects and gain a valuable wealth of knowledge and experience often leading to specialising in specific build types.(eg. additions, extensions, project homes). It is always recommended to engage in a builder that specialises in the type of build you are interested in.
When engaging a builder through a paid consultation, the builder is dedicating their time with you to impart their knowledge and educate you. They should be able to explain the building process and provide solutions based upon their extensive knowledge and experience within the building industry. They should be able to listen to your needs and then respond with information to help you understand what is a viable investment and what isn’t. A builder should be able to discuss specific building materials, their features, benefits and their associated costs and make recommendations based upon your project, Council requirements, budget constraints and your lifestyle. You should be provided with information and advice to help you understand how you can improve the aesthetics and streetscape of your home and also provide quality and cost effective solutions for the interior and exterior of your project that will add value. Alongside this, the builder should be able to explain the best practices to achieve energy efficiency, working towards the sustainability of your home – which is a major factor in today’s building.
You should expect a paid consultation with a builder at your home to last anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on the project and how prepared you are with questions. In addition to this, there should always be an open point of contact should further questions arise (which they will) following the consultation so that they can be discussed and addressed and the quote be revised if needed.
You shouldn’t expect: A pressured sales session – Your consultation should be informative and leave you with a better understanding of what is achievable.
What is a responsive service?Responsiveness is about the communication received between you and a builder/building company. This refers to the speed in which your enquiry is addressed and how that is addressed. This can be measured through; How soon you start to get the answers you are seeking, how soon you can meet with a builder, how soon you will receive your written quote.
How responsive is the builder?
Are you kept informed of what happens next at each stage of your enquiry?
Is there someone available to talk to if you have any additional questions before, during and after the quote process?
Is that communication a two way street, are you being heard?
You will find that the service and communication you receive at the initial stages of your enquiry is a key indicator for future performance if you were to go ahead with the build. It can suggest that the builder has invested into implementing good systems and processes that make you, the client, the main focus of the business and will ensure that you will be looked after throughout the project.
You want to ensure your quote is accurate – This is important. Accuracy in your quotation is paramount, not only for you, but for the builder. You are not discussing a $10K deck. You are seeking to invest a significant amount of money into your family home, your biggest asset, which also happens to be your biggest liability. When you receive your quotation from the builder, you are trusting that they have priced everything accurately for you and explained what could impact and affect the costs (usually excavation & soil removal). So how confident are you that through a free consultation the builder has dedicated the time and resources needed to tailoring your quote accurately and provided you with the best case solution? You don’t want to be in a situation where the builder finds they have underquoted the project; which then puts you in an awkward position as you have may not have access to additional finance to fund the build or worse, if the build has started and the builder can no longer continue to operate and leaves you with an incomplete build.
Through the additional aftercare taken in a paid consultation, the accurate and detailed quote provided can easily alleviate any of the issues and risks that are mentioned above.
There will also be an opportunity to discuss the quote further. Often, there may be changes to the quote as it is common to find that following the consultation other questions arise due to the information the builder has provided and further requests will want to be made. Ensure that your builder has an after quote service. Do they follow you up? Are they available when you want to contact them? Are they able to answer your questions and are they willing to continue to work on your quotation with you?
Whydo some builders offer free initial consultations? A builder who is offering free consultations may be one who has few clients, is not very busy and may only provide you with a general guide to your build. You may find that they are time poor which may leave you feeling that your consultation was rushed, resulting in many questions remaining unanswered. You have to remember that there is no commitment between you and the builder at this stage and so they may be reluctant to put the time into exploring alternative solutions that could prove to be a better future return on your investment for you. The common complaint we hear from our clients that have booked a free consultation with a builder is that they either haven’t turned up (which is frustrating if you have taken time off of work – which as a result will cost you time and money), or, turned up but is unable to return a quote for 3-4 weeks or, turned up but didn’t supply a quote.
Some common questions that a client in this situation find asking themselves are – why do I have to wait for a quote for that long? Is this a reflection of the overall service they provide? And does this mean that the entire project will also be this slow?
The comments above may not be the case for some builders, however, most reputable and experienced builders find charging a fee in exchange for their valuable and tailored information ensures they can dedicate enough time into delivering their client with the best case building solution.
In closing, invest in a builder, invest in a builder who specialises in the type of build you are after and pay for that consultation. It holds them accountable, you have paid them, they will turn up on time, you will receive a quote when they say you will, they will value you and put the time into you.
When you put it into perspective, that consultation fee is likely to be less than 2% of the overall project cost and will save you the headaches down the track. Use that consultation to tap into the builder’s wealth of knowledge and past experiences to help educate yourself which as a result will help you make the right decision for you, your family and for your long term goals and investment.