Tips on working with a builder

Tips on working with a Builder

If you are thinking of building a new home, or even undertaking a major extension or renovation, one of the key ingredients to completing this task with a minimum of stress or unnecessary delay is to start your project with a clear understanding what is involved in working with a Builder.

What many people don’t realise when they first take on a major project like this is that what starts out as a friendly, mutually beneficial working relationship can end up in a lengthy legal dispute if you’re not careful.

So here are some tips working with a Builder to help you avoid a few sleepless nights.

  1. Make sure that your proposed works, budget, completion date and contingencies are all spelled out clearly right from the start. One way to lock this in is to use a standard contract which you can obtain from sources like the MBA.
  2. You may want to include a schedule of penalties if the work isn’t completed by the agreed date, but be reasonable. There are things that the Builder can’t control, such as the weather for example.
  3. Many people include a defects clause in their contract which sets out how long you have to report any defects in the building work. A typical example is 26 weeks after completion.
  4. You may also consider using what is known as a “retention sum”. For example, this could be 5% of the value of the contract, and structured so that half the amount is paid on completion and half once any defects have been rectified to your satisfaction.
  5. Make sure you sight the Builder’s Insurance before construction commences.
  6. Once you have an agreed contract, think of the relationship like a marriage. Most people will tell you that there needs to be some ‘give and take’ to make it work.
  7. Keep in mind that your aims are different to the Builder’s. You want quality at an agreed price; the builder wants to get the job finished as quickly as possible.
  8. It is almost inevitable that some unforeseen issues will arise while you are working with a Builder. Sudden increases in material costs or an unexpected underground obstacle are typical examples. You still need to be prepared to pay the bills on time if you want to keep the project on schedule.
  9. Only pay for materials that are delivered to your site. Don’t allow your builder to split an invoice over several projects.
  10. Most Builders will have several projects under way at the one time. To avoid having your project lying dormant for days or weeks at a time, be sure that you have a clear understanding with your Builder regarding the minimum number of working hours per week on your site.
  11. Last but not least, don’t be shy about visiting your building site regularly. It’s your property, and you’re paying for the project, so you have a right to check what is happening. This includes examining materials, particularly items like kitchen and bathroom fittings, to ensure there are no cracks or chips.

One last tip: If you are considering renovations to prepare your property for sale, ALWAYS get some advice from an experienced property professional before you start. You’d be amazed how often we see property renovations that end up make absolutely no difference to the sale. So, don’t hesitate to give one of the team at Ian Reid’s Vendor Advocacy a call on 1300 400 400 for some obligation-free advice. Of course, if you’re keen to get more helpful tips on maximising your sale, you can download our free booklet, “Fatal Real Estate Traps Exposed” while you’re here.

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