Choosing Your Builder: A Checklist

Posted by on 17 January 2017

construction site builderAccording to a recent article in the NZ Herald, the current building boom and subsequent increased lead times for sourcing building materials in New Zealand has led to a rise in the use of alternative (sometimes substandard) building materials and supplies. Largely due to a case of simple economics, the lack of supply versus high demand has provided opportunities for alternative (unproven in New Zealand) supplies to gain popularity in the marketplace.

Unfortunately cutting corners on the quality and durability of building products and utilising non-compliant building materials can lead to costly problems down the track both for the building company and the home owner. The increase in the use of substandard materials emphasises more than ever the importance of choosing a reputable builder with a strong stable history of good quality new builds and renovations. Unsure how to find a reputable local builder? Here are a few things to think about to get you started.

What Do Previous Customers Think?

Referrals and references from previous clients happy with their build results are a great place to begin your investigations into finding a reputable builder that is not only going to complete the job at hand, but reliably complete it to a high standard. Checking references, preferably either in person or by phone call, will provide a bigger picture of the builders abilities, work ethics and workmanship, be sure to ask specific questions relating to your build project.

How Long Has The Builder Been Operating In The Area?

Builders who have been operating locally for any length of time will have a good solid history with reliable sub-contractors and reputable suppliers along with a wider pool of resources within the community. When trying to maintain a good reputation within an area builders are more likely to consider their actions and responsibilities within the local community more seriously.

Are They A Registered Builder?

Check with your local builders association (the main ones in New Zealand are the NZ Certified Builders Association or the Registered Master Builders Association) to verify registration and to see what kind of history they have. In order to be a member of these organisations building experience, qualifications and practical management experience are necessary. Often workmanship has been inspected and financial responsibility and past client satisfaction has been investigated.

Are They A Local Builder?

Choosing a locally based builder will ensure valuable local knowledge of factors influencing the build process will be acknowledged and considered during the planning process. These may include things like weather conditions, local council regulations, ground composition and topography, local residential trends and even potential delays involving transportation.

Do They Have Examples Of Their Work You Can Inspect?

Being able to actually view previous examples of a builders work or even work in progress is a great way to ascertain standards of workmanship, but bear in mind they are unlikely to send you to places that do not showcase their work in a positive light.

Do They Offer A Value For Money Build?

Price isn’t everything but it is an important determining factor when making any sort of purchase, perhaps even more so when building or buying a home as it is one of the biggest purchases people make during their lifetime. As a general rule it pays to keep in mind you get what you pay for, and if it seems too good to be true, then it usually is.

What Standard Building Materials Do They Use?

Don’t be afraid to ask about the standard materials and products they would generally use. Well-known brands that have New Zealand certification or have met appraisal criteria help to ensure they are suitable for use under circumstances specific to New Zealand. Meaning they are more likely to stand the test of time under our somewhat unique weather and usage conditions.

Do They Offer A Good Quality Build?

Do they seem knowledgeable about modern construction techniques and the ever popular eco-friendly practises? Are these things demonstrated in previous examples of their work? The use of quality materials and products does not necessarily equate to a quality build, but it does demonstrate a preference for quality and higher expectations.

Do They Provide A Suitable Post-Build Warranty Period?

Reputable builders will always provide a warranty period following the completion of any new build or renovation project. Look at what the warranty covers and its exclusions. Builders warranties will usually cover workmanship and materials related to the actual structural integrity of the build, they do not cover things like appliances or furnishings.

As a result of Local Building Consent Authorities (councils) picking up on an increased use of cheaper, substitute materials and potential quality control issues, reliance on councils to provide a regulatory influence during routine inspections throughout the build process has gained momentum, however the council’s inspections are not specifically designed for this purpose. Ensuring you hire a reputable builder is the best way to be sure of a successful new build or renovation.

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