There are many reputable residential builders in Melbourne – but there are also many companies hoping to make money by doing a shoddy job. However, by doing your research, informing yourself, and trusting your gut, you can find a reliable company to do the job.
Hiring residential builders is a big decision. Here are a few questions that can help you decide which company is the best choice.
1. Can You Show Me Proof of Insurance?
There is a lot that could go wrong during a construction project – your property could get damaged, a neighbour’s property could get damaged, or someone could get hurt. A reliable builder should have insurance to cover any accidents or damages that might happen.
You may not even need to ask this question because the best builders make their insurance information freely available on their websites or in conversation. However, you should always ask to see their certificates of insurance to confirm. If someone refuses or acts cagey, that could mean that their business is not what it should be.
2. What Subcontractors Do You Use Regularly?
When you hire residential builders, they may not actually be the ones working on your property. Instead, most builders will hire out at least part of the work to subcontractors they trust, which increases the efficiency of the project.
However, you have a right to know who will be working on your property. Thus, your builders should tell you which subcontractors they may call up to work on your home. You also want them to use subcontractors who they have regular, trusting relationships with, not people whose quality of work you cannot confirm.
3. Can You Give Me a List of References?
The best way to tell which are the good residential builders in Melbourne is to examine their existing work. Most builders will showcase photos of properties they have worked on, but they should also give you contact information for previous clients. This list should be complete and recent – be wary if the builder is relying on good testimony from someone they worked for a decade ago!
When you call previous clients, ask them about the builders’ communication, the quality of their work, and if there were any delays. This can give you an insight into the way that they work.
4. Do You Allow “Allowance Systems” or Are You Restricted to Package Deals?
Package deals are fixed projects where clients have minimal choices over supplies, materials, and other aspects of the project. They can be more affordable and still offer quality work. However, they do not offer much variety.
Many good builders offer an “allowance” system, where clients have more flexibility in deciding materials (from a pre-approved list), specifications, and the final cost of the project. Allowance systems can help you save money by choosing less expensive materials. You can also prioritise aspects of your home that you find more important but that your builder may not have thought about.
While package deals are a good option, a good builder should allow you the freedom to decide the details of the project. It will be your home, after all.
5. What Is the Length of Your Warranty?
No matter how good a job your builder does on the initial construction, accidents will happen or unforeseen issues may arise. Reputable residential builders offer warranties that cover damages. They should come back and fix any issues at little to no additional cost to you.
The length of the warranty also matters. Ideally, you want your home to last, so a builder who offers a warranty for only a year or two may be signalling that they don’t trust their work to hold up longer than that. Many reliable builders offer 10-year warranties.
6. Can You Provide Details About the Materials You Will Be Using?
You have a right to know what materials a builder is planning to use on your home. Most builders offer specification sheets that list all the characteristics of a product. You can even ask for samples so that you can see and touch the product for yourself before it is installed in your home – whether they are environmentally-friendly and up to your expectations.
One important detail that you should ask about is warranty information. Many manufacturers offer product warranties that are in addition to the construction warranty your builder offers. You should know who to contact in case your product is damaged.
7. Are You Involved in the Entire Process?
You want a builder who will communicate with you from the moment they break ground on the project to even after you have moved in. They should be available to answer any questions and be forthcoming about problems and delays.
Asking the right questions can help you determine which builders are reliable and which ones might do a shoddy job. Ask about their materials, labour processes, and warranty information. The right green home builders will be forthcoming and honest with their answers – if someone claims you ask too many questions, it is time to look for someone else!