Finding Your Perfect Match: What You Need to Know About Choosing a Builder :


If you think about all the important relationships in your life – your partner, your children, your dog – would you consider your builder to be of similar importance?  If you have been through a house-building project, you’d probably say yes.   During the building process, your builder is the most important person in your life.  Well, at least they should be!

There’s a lot more to choosing a builder than getting the best price.  Luckily, with a bit of knowledge and prior planning, you’ll be able to make the right choice in a builder as well as play your part in the process.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know before you choose a builder and what you need to know after the project is finished.


Choosing a builder

The Master Builders Association and The Certified Builders Association of New Zealand are two good places to start when searching for a builder.  Builders belonging to either of these organisations have been vetted by strict guidelines.  You can be sure they have the necessary skills, licenses and knowledge and adhere to government-backed building guidelines, regulations and codes.

It’s also important to find a builder you can relate to on a personal level.  You’re going to spend a lot of time with your builder (and they’re going to spend a lot of your money), things will go smoother if you’re on the same page. One of the best attributes to look for in a builder is good communication.  Most breakdowns between homeowners and builders occur when variations and other issues are poorly communicated.


What your builder should provide you with

Before you enter into your next big relationship, don’t be afraid to ask for:

- Disclosure form

- References

- Qualifications

- Examples of previous projects

- A full explanation of the contract


The disclosure form

Building Contractors are now required to disclose certain information to their clients prior to entering into a contract.  The minimum information that must be provided on the disclosure form includes:

- Building Contractor’s details (including key contact person managing or supervising the work and their licensing status).

- Insurance policy information relevant to the building work.

- Guarantees or warranties that the building contractor provides in relation to the building work.

If your builder hasn’t provided you with a disclosure already, then tell them that they can do this through BuildInsite.


The contract

Generally, there are three options for building contracts.

1) When you engage a builder under a full contract, the builder quotes for a package that includes materials, subcontractors, council inspections and liaison with the architect or designer.  The builder manages the whole building phase.

2) A labour-only contract is one where you manage the whole project and the builder is only responsible for the actual building work of the project.

3) A managed labour-only contract means you are responsible for pricing the job, getting quotes and organising the materials and subcontractors.

Many people go with a labour-only or managed labour-only contract because they believe it will be cheaper.  However, homeowners should be aware that running the project this way involves a lot more responsibility, a lot more time and no guarantee of a cheaper result. 


What your builder doesn’t do

Before the build begins, there are a few things you will have to take care of yourself:

- It is your responsibility to make sure the building consent has been issued.

- Make sure you’re happy with plans and specifications. Making changes once building has begun will end up costing.

- You are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate licensed building practitioners will be carrying out any restricted building work.

- Make sure the site is accessible for your builder to begin work.


Builders Guarantee

Builders belonging to either Master Builders or Certified Builders are able to offer a Builders Guarantee.  While each organisation has a few different options, the guarantees are there to ensure the homeowner is protected against things like:

- Loss of deposit

- Non-completion of building work

- Defective workmanship and materials

- Rot and fungal decay

- Structural defects


After completion

Moving into your new home will be the most exciting day of the whole project.  But before you crack open the champagne and move in, have a good look around.

- Any major defects should be reported to your builder straight away, preferably in writing.

- Any minor defects should be discussed with your builder so that an acceptable agreement and timeframe for fixing can be reached.

- Settle your final account with your builder.

- Apply for a Code Compliance Certificate.

- Obtain insurances.

Most reputable builders will be happy to fix any problems or minor issues as it’s in their best interest.

At the end of the project, you’ll be amazed at how much paperwork and important information you have amassed.  Plans, certificate of compliance, insurance details, material specifications, maintenance schedules, guarantees and product warranties need to be kept somewhere safe.   These days, your builder is required under the Building Act to provide an ‘Owner’s Manual’ which contains all of this vital information.  HomeOversite is a digital property wallet that allows you to easily keep your home’s important information in one place.  If you would like all of your home’s vital information pre-populated into your HomeOversite account for free, make sure your builder is using BuildInsite – the online tool for building compliance and management.  Learn more about HomeOversite and BuildInsite here.

Article provided by Home Oversite: Your Digital Property Wallet