How to find the a home builder best for your job

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All homes are not alike and the same goes for builders. One builder might be perfect for your home building project while another equally skilled builder might be all wrong. The trick to finding the right builder lies in matching the builder with the project.

The first step towards finding the best builder for your job lies in knowing exactly what you want to build. Sit down and list your requirements:

What style of house do you want?

How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want?

Are there any distinctive design features you want to be included in your house?

Do you want a "green" or sustainable home?

Do you want outdoor living spaces?

What's your budget?

Do you want your builder to manage your project or do you want to have more input?

Builders tend to specialize. One builder's specialty might be in designing single storey family homes. Another builder might be well-versed in sustainable design. Another builder may have extensive experience working with architects on modern or heritage-style homes.

You also want to find builders who will work with you or take control of your project and allow you to focus on your work. Some builders are project managers who rarely go to a job site but liaise with their clients and the on-site builders to keep the project running smoothly. Others take a more hands-on approach and are on-site every day, supervising every aspect of the project.

Your job is to find the best fit for your project. You will start by getting initial quotes. Before you check the "bottom line," have a look at the builder's portfolio and find out how many jobs they've done that match the style of home you want to build.

After you've narrowed down your list, interview your short list of builders in person. This is a critical step you don't want to skip. You'll only know if a builder is a right fit for you if you can communicate well with them. They should listen to all your questions and be able to give you detailed answers. Some questions you should ask every builder include:

Do you have a current builder's licence?

Are you fully insured?

How long have you been working in this area?

How many projects of this type have you completed in the past?

Can you provide me with references?

Can you show me examples of your previous work?

Don't leave anything to chance. A reputable builder will be happy to show you their licence and insurance details. They will provide you with references and offer to let you view homes they have built before. If a builder hedges on any of these important details, they may have something to hide.

Once you're satisfied with two or three builders, you will want to get more detailed quotes. The quotes should list materials and include approximate start and completion dates. Compare the quotes carefully. If anything is missing from one, ask for clarification. While a quote is not a binding contract, it can show you how seriously a builder takes his job.

When you think you've found the best builder for your job, you can ask them to write a contract. Don't sign the contract unless you are sure it contains everything you need to know. Your contract is binding, so you need to know it is as complete as possible. Read Your Essential Guide to Building Contracts for more information and remember there is no turning back after you've signed your contract. If you're in doubt, get a solicitor or independent building consultant to review your contract with you before you sign it.