Choosing The Right Builder

Finding the right building company is one of the biggest decisions you will make when building a new home – which makes it well worth doing a little research.

5 Things To Think About Before Choosing Your Building Company

Before you even start looking at paint colours and tapware you need to choose your building company, and its not as simple as just picking a name out of a list, here 5 things to help you navigate choosing the right builder. 

1. Standard Design Or Custom Design?

While most residential building companies offer standard home designs from the book (these homes are often what’s known as ‘cookie cutter’ designs that are reproduced on mass), they also offer accustom build services which allow you to not only redesign the layout but also add your own personal style to the build.

2. Budget

Always a big factor in any new build, the budget is what drives 90% of your decisions going forward. Yes some building companies will most definitely have higher margins than others, just as smaller private builders may have fewer overheads and are able to pass these savings on to customers.

However it is important to get a clear picture of exactly what it is you are getting for your money and what is included in your quote – this includes any after completion guarantees, insurance and general liability agreements during the build process.

3. Reputation

Sometimes you might be effectively paying a little extra for the reputation, but with this comes peace of mind, reliability, excellent service and tried and tested processes.

However generally speaking there is a trade-off between the higher initial build prices of well-known larger build companies that offer reputation and responsibility benefits versus smaller more personal building companies who while also offering these things (but sometimes to a lesser extent within the public’s perception) can offer greater customisation, responsiveness and cost savings.

4. Location

Choosing a local building company that operates in your area may seem like a no brainer but it’s the hidden benefits that are sometimes not always apparent. Local builders have access to reputable and reliable local contractors who operate within the area and are able to make time to attend the job when required on short notice reducing the likelyhood of holds ups.

Also having used these contractors on a regular basis in the past and effectively ‘living in the same neighbourhood’ means there is an established mutually beneficial relationship, one where both parties have an understanding of the standard of work required and professional obligations within the community.

5. Level Of Involvement?

How much do you want to be involved in the build process? Are you intending to source your own fixtures and fittings? Do you know a guy who can get you a deal on the electrical wiring or plumbing? Are you going to do some of the work or project managing yourself?

This is actually a really important one to address early on in the talks with your building company. Often larger companies do frown upon using external contractors, or even letting you on site, while smaller companies are able to offer more flexibility.

How To Choose Your Builder

Investing such a large amount of money in building a new house means choosing the right builder is going to be crucial. We’ve all heard the horror stories out there about people stuck with poor workmanship, hidden costs and even unfinished projects – lets makes sure that doesn’t happen to you!

  1. Ask Around. It may seem simple but it is actually a great way to see which companies pop up. Ask your workmates, acquaintances, family and friends who have built within the last couple of years who they built with and whether their experience was a good one. If you receive a negative review be sure to ask just what the issue was and use this information to avoid the same problems in your build.

  2. Double Check Pricing. Getting more than one quote will mean you are able to compare pricing and understand a bit better what you are paying for and why. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples though as some building companies will have more inclusions in their quotes such as heating appliances, and different quality materials, fixtures and fittings.

  3. Look Out For Hidden Costs. Hidden costs can appear out of nowhere through the course of a build. As New Home Consultants, Architects, Draftsmen and Councils get involved they may have different ideas about what you can and can’t do – these finer details can end up blowing out the budget and the expected time frames. Be mindful of exactly what you are getting for your money.

  4. Check Them Out. Taking a look at their accreditation or qualifications is a good place to start, most builders in New Zealand will either be affiliated with the Registered Master Builders Association or NZ Certified Builders Association industry organisations. Reading some reviews online is also a great idea, have a look on Facebook, and other industry review sites to see what the general consensus is, or get in touch with some of their past clients.

  5. Look For An Experienced Builder. Choosing a builder that is tried and tested within the industry is the best option. More experienced construction companies have experienced staff, Quantity Surveyors, and quality assurance professionals that can spot issues before they become a problem helping to avoid possible complications, but also expert at coming up with workable solutions.

  6. Trust Your Gut. A good building company will always be up front and very clear about every detail of the project. If you ask – they should answer, no matter what the question or request. Sometimes it may not be the answer you were after but they should be upfront and honest about everything every step of the way.

Building Companies – What To Look Out For

Building contractors are required to supply you with the Ministry Of Business, Innovation and Employment Prescribed Checklist outlining several informational aspects of the build process before you sign any contract or build agreement. This checklist covers the following:

  • Becoming Informed. Understanding the requirements of the Building Act 2004.

  • Agreeing On Project Structure And Management. Having a clear understanding of who is running the project (who is in charge), who is doing the building work and who is responsible for making decisions.

  • Hiring Competent Building Contractors. Ensuring that your builder is in fact a Licensed Building Contractor, and will be using licenced professionals on the job.

  • Agreeing On Prices And Payments. Ensuring your contract states exactly what payments are necessary and when. Fixed price contracts are the best course of action for most.

  • The Presence Of A Written Contract. A written contract is a must. It should contain a description of the building work, start and completion dates, how variations to the original contract will be dealt with, and the payment process.

  • Control And Communication. Building companies are required to provide a Disclosure Statement which outlines key contact persons, their role, and qualifications. As well as specific information about the building company including the type of business, date it was formed, official trading name and physical address. There should also be information regarding insurances, guarantees and warranties.

  • Resolving Disputes. Advice on raising disputes and how to go about the communication around this process in a timely and appropriate manner.

Finding A Certified Builder In NZ

When building a new home you will need a registered Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP), you can find a list of LBP’s in your area in the public register on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website. You can also check the following links for a list of certified or registered builders.

  • Registered Master Builders Association

  • NZ Certified Builders Association

The search for a building company in Christchurch or a Canterbury builder that ticks all the boxes for you, is just a click away.  Get in touch with Build 7 to chat about your new home.