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The five stages of choosing the right home renovation specialist

Date: 18 July 2019

Stage 1 - Finding a builder

First things first, where do you find a builder? Word of mouth is a good starting point; ask your friends and colleagues. Or you can find builders listed in directories such these:

Registered Master Builders 

Licensed Building Practitioners


Stage 2 - Doing your homework

Once you’ve shortlisted your builders, check up on them to find out more. Check references from previous clients. Houzz is a website where you can get design inspiration and check up on previous clients reviews. 

Do a credit check to see whether they stand up financially. 

Meet up with them to make sure you feel comfortable and confident in them, and see how they communicate in person. You need to get on well with your builder because unless you’re moving out of your house completely during the renovation, you could be spending a lot of time with them around.

Make sure they have renovation experience.

Ask if they have the required insurance and be sure to note it in your contract.

Stage 3 - Getting quotes

Best practice is to get at least three detailed quotes. A quote is a breakdown of the costs of all labour and materials so when you’re comparing quotes make sure you compare like for like. Check that the materials specified will get the finish you want. Look carefully at whether subcontractors' work has been accounted for. Ask what is NOT included! And don’t be afraid to challenge the quote and ask how they reached those figures. If there are big price differences you need to find out why; has the lower bidder missed something out or is the higher bidder trying to rip you off?

Stage 4 – Seeking consent

Each local council has their own rules and regulations when it comes to defining which projects require consent and which do not. Talk to your architect/ draughtsman or builder about seeking consent BEFORE any work begins.

Stage 5 – Agreeing on a contract

Agreeing on a contract is a delicate and vital part of the process when selecting your renovation builder. There are different types of contracts to be aware of. A full contract (the most common) means the builder looks after the job from beginning to end, supplying all materials and arranging subcontractors. A labour-only contract means you manage all the paperwork, subcontractors, materials, and the builder. And a managed labour contract is where you manage purchasing the materials, subcontractors, etc, and the builder manages the day-to-day running of the project.

Agreeing on a formal contract sorts out who is responsible for what and by when, noting any potential hassles and frustrations from the outset. 

IMPORTANT: Make sure your written contract includes details of your builder’s guarantee, insurance, health and safety systems, and payment schedules, stage completion dates and a means of dispute resolution.

Why choose Renovate It?

  • Your dedicated project manager will keep you in the loop throughout the project and ensure your renovation comes in on time and within budget.
  • We are ready to provide examples of our work and a detailed list of tiered options.
  • Depending on your budget you can either work with one of our in house consultants or we can recommend a range of Designers and Architects - All centered around you, the home owner getting the best outcome possible 
  • With teams in both Wellington and Christchurch, we can provide advice and estimates
  • One company sorts your entire job. We have the trades – all qualified and registered – ready to work together to make your job happen.