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Choosing the right builder to build your family home or investment can be a very difficult and daunting process. There are so many different types of builders and so many different “tiers” of builders. It’s like when you are in a candy shop and after a while, all the candy just looks the same.
Choosing the right builder for you and your family is a process which we will discuss in a lot more detail throughout my blogs.
In this blog, I want to give you a few pointers to help you eliminate those builders that might not be the right fit for you! That way you don’t feel trapped or in a never-ending maze…
Trap 1: Quote vs. Tender
There is a massive difference between a tender and a quote. A quote is a guesstimate of how much your house may or may not cost. On the other hand, a tender is a detailed document that contains:
- inclusions and exclusions,
- your site costs and authority costs,
- a very detailed calculated price and
- the results of your site specific reports including but not limited to contour surveys, soil test, flood assessment, bush fire assessment, etc…
If you have paid your builder to obtain your site specific reports, then your tender should be fixed to reflect what it is actually going to cost you to build your home.
If the builder, after paying their initial fee, still provides you with a quote document of sorts – I would thank them for their time and walk away.
Trap 2: Inclusions & Exclusions
There are no such thing as standard inclusions – so each builder has their own inclusions and exclusions. If a builder does not include overhead cupboards, concrete slab to porch, internal doors to your home and some fundamental inclusions that you cannot have a home without; then I would thank them for their time and walk away.
Please refer to my Standard Inclusion blog for more details on this.
Will it help you decide which builder is better based on their inclusions? Not necessarily. It may give you an insight of their standards and quality etc…, however this does not make them better than the next builder.
For example: if a builder includes 2.7m high ceiling as their “standard” inclusions; this does not make them better than the next builder that includes 2.45m high ceiling. It simply means that one includes 2.75 and the other includes 2.45.
Other elements to look out for are things like:
- this tender is subject to contour survey: well if you paid for this and this T&C is still there, it’s a massive red flag.
- this tender / quote excludes CDC approvals: so how can I build a home if I cannot have it approved?
- Drop Edge Beams (DEB) are not included in this tender: if the builder has obtained the contours and they done their proper compliance checks etc…, they should know whether DEB are required or not.
- If DEB are required / not required, it should be specified. Stating that it’s not included means that it may or may not needed in which case you may have to pay for it later.
Trap 3: He Said / She Said
He told me it was a fixed price. Who told you? The salesperson? The builder himself? The truth to the matter is that it does NOT matter who said it. If it is not in writing then it has not happened.
If it’s a fixed price Mr. Builder then please state it clearly on your tender and in writing. It’s just not worth the risk to you.
I have a lot of people that tell me: but he is genuine, it’s a family business, the guy was really nice, she told me that I should not need drop edge beams, etc… etc…
My response is this: would you leave your child with a stranger that looks genuine, a family man, seems nice and told you that you don’t need to worry about anything? So why take a risk with your hard earned money and the next 30 years of your life???
Trap 4: Proactive Communication
Communication is important but what is more important is Proactive Communication. You want a builder that communicates with you consistently and without you having to chase them for everything or wait on them for weeks to get a response.
If your builder does not communicate well with you in the beginning, what makes you think it will get better once you are locked in?
Trap 5: The Favor Act
You are the client. You are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s your home and somehow you feel like your builder is doing you a favor?! If that is the feeling you get in the beginning of the process, then I would suggest that it’s the wrong builder.
When you go to a restaurant and it takes an hour to get your food, how would you feel? Would you go back? If the answer is no, and you are only spending a few dollars; then why would you tolerate the same or even worse behavior from your builder when you are spending your hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Trap 6: Price is good
If you are getting some pricing and one builder provides you with a really cheap quote, chances are either they are
- desperate for business so they are not charging enough margin which can be very problematic for you or
- missing something in their pricing which means you will be slammed later with extra costs.
It’s actually a good thing if your builder is making money because chances are that they will be around to complete your project and warrant it for 6 years to come.
Cheaper is not better and more expensive does not mean it’s better either… If a builder is low-balling the price, I would again thank him / her for their time and walk in the opposite direction.
The key here is to make sure you are comparing builders on an apple to apple comparison before making a decision. Otherwise you are mistaking Price for Value.
Building your home is a journey and like any journey, it has its ups and downs. You want a partner that will work with you, supports you when things go wrong and guide you when things get tough.
What you really want a builder that is upfront and honest with you. You can teach skill but you cannot teach attitude.