7 mistakes to avoid when choosing a builder
Building and renovating is not something that we do very often, so it goes without saying that choosing a builder can be a tricky decision with significant consequences if you get it wrong. By avoiding these common mistakes you’re more likely to enjoy a stress free build and eliminate budget blow outs.
- Choosing the wrong kind of builder
Quite simply, if you are extending or renovating you should only be talking to builders who are experienced in extensions and renovations, and, if you are building a new home you should only be talking to builders who are experienced in new homes. The best new home builder in town could be the worst choice to build your extension because there is so much different about an extension that can easily catch out a builder without that experience. It is not uncommon for new home builders to present competitive quotes for extension and renovation projects; however that is often because they don’t have the experience to prepare a quote that adequately deals with the complexities of an extension
- Not getting comprehensive quotes
Far too many people choose a builder based on quotes that have a lot of important items missing and that are not transparent. No matter how detailed and exhaustive the drawings may appear, there will generally be a lot of things missing from the drawings that the builder needs to prepare a comprehensive quote.
If the builders have only been provided with plans to prepare their quote there is a high likelihood that there will be a lot of important items missing from the quote and a very high likelihood that will lead to additional costs and potential conflict with the builder. To avoid this you should always issue the builders with a comprehensive Inclusions Schedule as well as the drawings. Inclusions Schedule’s, like ProSpex ensure you understand what will be included in the quote, guarantees that the quotes you receive will be far more thorough and transparent, making it much easier for everyone involved to compare ‘apples with apples’
- Assuming that the cheapest quote is the right price
It is only natural to be drawn to the quote that will save you some money, but if that quote is significantly cheaper than the other quotes then you should be very careful before you select that builder. A grouping of similar quotes should be giving you some clues as to what the right price is to complete the project. Selecting a builder that has given a quote that is significantly less than other quotes may lead to future issues if in fact the builder has made an error with the quote. The last thing you want is for the builder to take shortcuts and charge for variations down the track
- Not understanding jargon in the quote
There are a couple of terms that you absolutely must understand when assessing quotes. If you don’t, you will be exposed to a higher risk of additional costs during construction and your budget blowing out. There are two key terms that will be critical in your assessment of quotes.
For example, when you see ‘Prime Cost’ items and ‘Provisional Sums’ noted you need to understand that they are allowances only and whilst the builder has a responsibility to include figures that are realistic, there is also a huge range in the cost of many items that could be considered realistic. For example, a toilet can be purchased for $250 yet there are also toilets available for over $3000. You should be particularly alert if a quote has a lot of Provisional Sums in it, as Provisional Sums are sometimes used to make a quote look competitive when in fact it may actually be very deceptive. Adam Hobill's book, Nail It!, goes into a lot more detail on why it’s so important to understand Provisional Sums
- Not talking to current clients
It’s not difficult for builders to give you the details of a couple of clients who they know have been happy with their services; and for that reason asking builders for references is a bit of a waste of time as they are only going to give you details of people who will say the right thing. Instead, you’d be better advised to ask the builder for the contact details of a couple of current clients. Current clients will give you feedback that is less contrived and more useful as they are still immersed in the process
- Not knowing who you’ll be dealing with
Some builders will prepare the quote and be the primary builder on site day to day, whilst some building companies will have a team of people and the person who prepares and presents the quote may not be your primary contact throughout the build… you may never see them throughout the rest of the process. You’re going to be dealing with your builder for many months and a close working relationship will be critical to ensure a successful outcome, so make sure you understand who it is that you will be dealing with from day to day
- Not knowing what is excluded from the quote
One of the best ways to clarify what is included in the quote is to ask the builder to confirm what is excluded from the quote. A bit like reverse engineering, it is a great way to unearth any of those items that may have been assumed by either party are either included or excluded. Lighting, for example, often creates confusion and ends in disagreement if it is not made clear at the outset. A builder may quote for lights, however that will often only include the batten fitting (globe holder) and no light fittings, whereas the client is probably expecting that light fittings are included