Switched On Group is the industry best for service and delivery in the building and maintenance sector.
Date: 12 October 2017
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:
Once you’ve shortlisted your builders, check up on them to find out more. Check references from previous clients. No Cowboys is a website where the public rate and review legitimate builders.
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.
Best practice is to get at least three detailed quotes (don’t settle for just an estimate). 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?
You could also put the job out for tender. If builders know there is competition for the job you might get a sharper price. It could take a long time to pull together a quote this way so allow time in your planning phase. It may also help to get an initial estimate from a quantity surveyor (QS) first so you have a ballpark figure of what the job should be costing.
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.
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.
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