When you are planning home renovations, your choice of builder will be one of the most important decisions you have to make. But with so many different building firms to choose from, how can you be sure you are getting it right?
Here we take a look at what makes a good builder, and the steps you can take to help you make an informed and successful decision, so your house renovation project goes as smoothly as possible.
Word of mouth recommendations from friends and family
If someone you know has had some building work completed and they recommend a house renovation contractor, this is advice worth listening to. Remember, people tend to be very quick to complain about something they are not happy with, while they need to be seriously impressed to offer praise. If they recommend a particular contractor for home renovation, this is something you can take seriously, as it means the work must be outstanding in their opinion.
You should always ask relevant questions if anyone recommends a particular building firm to you. Find out if they arrived on time, if they completed the job within budget, and if they left the client’s home clean and tidy once the job was finished, as these are all signs of a reputable builder.
Do your research online
Online research is an important step when it comes to choosing a builder for your home reno. 90 percent of consumers now use online reviews and testimonials to help them make purchase decisions. As selecting a builder for your home renovation is an extremely important decision, it makes sense to find out what other customers are saying about them before you go ahead.
While there are some reviews online which are fake, these are usually fairly easy to spot. Genuine consumers will be honest and won’t hold back when it comes to expressing their opinions!
It is always worth reading testimonials – and watching some video testimonials if these are available. Videos can be particularly useful as you can see the reviewer’s body language and hear their tone of voice. This gives you more reassurance that the testimonial is genuine.
Look at some of their previous work
If a building firm is local to your area, the chances are they will have already completed some house renovation projects in your neighbourhood. It is worth asking around and finding out if you can take a look at some jobs they have already completed, so you can see the standard of their work for yourself.
Keep a look out for local building projects that are happening in your neighbourhood, and note the name of the firm on the board outside. If you like their work, it is worth making a phone call to see whether or not they can offer what you are looking for.
If possible, try and find pieces of their work that represent what you want to achieve. For example, if you want a kitchen renovation, try to locate a kitchen that they have recently built, so you can determine whether their work will be suitable for your project.
It is also worth talking directly to some of their previous clients, so you can find out how happy they are with the quality of the work. A reputable builder will usually be happy to put you in touch with these individuals.
Check their registration and insurance
For any home renovation, it is essential to choose a reputable builder who is fully licensed and insured. When you first get in touch with a house renovation contractor, you should ask for details of their license and insurance. The most trustworthy builders are often also members of a professional body, so you should also ask about this. Asking questions is important because it gives you a much stronger degree of protection in the unlikely event of anything going wrong during your home reno.
In many states and territories, it is also the case that building projects above a certain value must be completed by a specially registered building practitioner. For example, in Victoria this is the case for all projects costing more than $10,000. It is essential to check with your local authority to find out what the rules are in your state or territory, so you can be certain you are choosing a contractor who complies with legislation.
Ask about their previous experience
It is always far safer to use an experienced builder who has been in the business for a number of years and has successfully completed many different projects. When you are making your initial enquiries, ask them about how long they have been in the house renovation industry and what training and experience they have.
You should also consider asking about the other members of the team who will be working on your property. Have they been fully trained? How much experience do they have? Are they employed directly by the building firm rather than engaged on a freelance contractor basis?
It is helpful if all members of the team are employed directly by the same building firm instead of being contracted in. This leads to clearer communication and more straightforward project management, so there is less chance of mistakes being made due to poor understanding between different contractors. Also, if a team is used to working together in a particular way, they are more likely to get the job done more quickly.
Find out if they offer a written contract
Before any building work starts on your house renovation, it is essential to get a contract in writing between you and the building firm. This will clearly state the agreed budget and give details of all the work which is to be carried out, providing a binding set of requirements and expectations between both parties.
If a building firm is not prepared to offer a written contract, you should avoid them, as they obviously do not take their responsibilities seriously enough.
Is their work covered by warranties?
When you invest in a home renovation such as a new bathroom or kitchen, you want it to last for many years into the future, including all the fixtures and fittings as well as the building work itself. If something goes wrong relatively soon after the work has been completed, you need a binding guarantee that the building firm will agree to put it right.
A reputable building firm will cover both their structural and non-structural work with a warranty, making sure that if anything does go wrong with their work within a specified period of time, they will fix it for you free of charge, provided it was not your fault.
Do they understand your vision?
Your home is a reflection of your personality, and all home renovations should be about bringing your vision to life. It is extremely important that your builder understands exactly what you want from the project, and can employ their talent, industry knowledge and experience to bring it to life as faithfully as possible. Rather than offering “one size fits all” solutions, they must be prepared to tailor their work to suit your needs and your property, so it reflects what you envisage.
This should begin with a detailed consultation, discussing your ideas with you and coming up with practical and workable solutions to every problem. By the time you sign your contract, you should have detailed plans drawn up, so you can see exactly how the project will look once all the work is completed. You must make sure you are happy with these plans before you sign anything, as changing your mind mid-project can be very expensive.
Additionally, the builder should keep you informed at every stage while the work is being completed, enabling you to stay on top of the project and to check that it is progressing in a way which suits you.
Finally, ask yourself how well you feel you get on with the builder. Are they friendly and polite? Clear communication and a good working relationship are essential if the project is going to work, so it is important that you feel comfortable enough to welcome the builder into your home for a period of weeks or even months while the work is being done.
Find out more about choosing a reputable builder
If you are considering a home renovation and would like more information about what R. A. Paul can offer, please contact us today. Our friendly team will be happy to discuss your requirements.