Choosing a Builder

The experience you have with a builder during the contact phase is a pretty good indication of what one can expect during the contract phase. I found a lot of variation between the builders and building companies in their initial response to my inquiry and how they dealt with requests for price indications and information on their building process.

For a start – some builders use project managers to oversee the whole project. Whilst this ensures one gets a well oiled building process, it can also add considerably to the cost of building. Just how much of this is also factored into the builders overhead needs to be examined.

Pricing estimates – if you expect a reasonable pricing response, be prepared to provide the builder with all the details they need. And make sure you give the same pack to each builder. Don’t ask for a price estimate until you have vetted the builder for background, quality of work and how they relate to you. It takes time for them to prepare a pricing –
so respect their time and don’t progress to this stage unless they are a real contender.

Ask for a price break down. One very respected building company came back to me with a price well in excess of another respected building company -with no break down or indication as to what was included or excluded from the price. Combined with this fact, and that I had to follow up twice to get the price – that company was firmly marked off my list.

The builder has to communicate well with you – and respect that you are investing a huge amount of cash into your project, and keeping them employed. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with them at this stage – its time for another line through the prospect list.

In large companies, you will be dealing with the sales person – not the builder. Make sure that this person is well versed in building – and not just a slick presenter. If something goes wrong during the contract phase – make sure you have agreed that they will be available to champion your concerns to their building team. The benefit of working with a big company is that they have the design and build all in one team – but it can be a downside if you get left outside the loop.

So taking notice of how things work at this phase, is a pretty good indicator of how things will work out later. Lay down the ground rules yourself and you can expect a smoother ride when things get more intense.

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