How to choose a Melbourne home builder

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There are some key things to look out for and questions to ask before you engage a home builder in Melbourne. Take a look at our recommended steps.

One of the most important tasks when embarking on a home renovation or new build is engaging the right builder for your project.

Knowing where to start, however, can be pretty daunting. There are so many builders to choose from. How do you know which one will be right for you? 

At Mesh Design Projects, we often help clients choose builders. Here’s a quick guide to point you in the right direction. 

Where to start?

You should start your project by first speaking with a building designer who will help guide and advise you on how best you can achieve your home renovation and building goals. 

Having a good understanding of where and what you intend to build can make a huge difference in the style, orientation and the size of the house you wish to create.

When to choose a builder

Once you have a good sense of your project, it’s time to start talking to a few builders. 

Ask for the building designer’s recommendations, speak to friends who have built in the area or look for someone who specialises in the type of home you want. For example, you may be building on a steep block and need help from someone who specialises in this type of construction. 

It is important to reach out early to discuss availability and timelines. You can ask your builder if they’ll be able to take on a job around the time you expect to start your project. Often, builders are locked in many months ahead of time so get in early. 

What to ask your builder

Here’s a checklist to work through with prospective builders:

  • Make sure they are registered with the VBA: It is very important that your builder has the proper license to build a home in Victoria. Unlicensed builders will not have the same safety and quality standards as their licensed counterparts and you (the client) will need to be registered as an Owner Builder. Using an unlicensed builder may even lead to legal complications down the road.
  • They also need insurance: This generally goes hand in hand with being licensed but it is also worth checking. Your builder should at least have public liability insurance and a prefered builder will also have home warranty insurance.  You won’t get a building permit without these insurances.
  • How experienced are they?: You will want a builder who has experience in the type of build you are after and a lot of projects under their belt. This means they know what they are doing and will be far more likely to be efficient and cost-effective.  For example, a builder who predominantly builds new homes wouldn’t be a good fit for a renovation project of a heritage home.
  • Check out their past work: Of course a builder might be the most experienced one around but if you simply don’t like their work then they are probably not for you. Drive past the homes they have built to take a look or see if you can contact the owners.
  • Find references and testimonials: Independent websites like Hipages and Houzz offer construction company reviews. You should also ask the builder you have in mind to put you in touch with their recent clients so you can get a verbal reference.
  • What do they cost?: Make sure you are aware of the price ranges of the builders you are considering, which may help to whittle them right down. The general rule of thumb is to get three quotes. If one is much higher or lower than the others, ask the builder why. It may be that the builder with the highest quote has provided the most detailed breakdown, meaning greater certainty for you. Sometimes quotes do not cover the full scope of works, leading to the real costs exceeding your expectations.
  • What are they like?: You will need to communicate and deal with your builder over the coming months so how they communicate is important . They don’t need to be your new best friend but you should feel comfortable that you and them will be able to discuss and resolve issues. 

Don’t forget to carefully review your contract before signing. The contract sets out the relevant terms and conditions of your project and you need to understand what will happen if things go wrong and there is a dispute over who is responsible. Be aware, your builder may request evidence that you have the funds to complete the project as part of this process. 

Talk to your building designer

Building designers and builders often have good working relationships. Your designer is likely to have a recommended builder that they trust and have worked with before. Ask early so you can meet with their recommended builders and get a better understanding of timeframes for your project. 

Want home builder recommendations in Melbourne? Talk to Mesh Design Projects.

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