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10 questions to ask before hiring a house builder

Building a new home from scratch or renovating your current one is both an incredibly exciting and stressful process. Hiring a good builder can be a little nerve wracking as you obviously want the absolute best person to handle the task. By asking a potential builder these 10 questions you can make sure you're making a sound decision.

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1. Are you licensed and insured?

By law, all builders must have an up to date builders' license, as well as insurance. Although they may outrightly tell you that they are both licensed and insured, it’s always best to do your own research and find out, just in case. It’s also important that you know whether their license allows them to practise the specific work you need done.

2. What type of schedule do you think will work best?

construction-plans Having information about the schedule will keep you in the loop about which tasks will be completed at what times. This is more than just figuring out the start and end date of the construction. It’s critical that you know when construction in the kitchen, bathroom or bedrooms are taking place, so you’ll be able to continue your lifestyle around it.

It’s also wise for you to keep your own record of each day. This can include how many workers and which worked showed up on site that day and how much work was completed. Taking photos is also a great way to keep track too.

Hiring a builder won't be your only renovation cost. Read our list of unexpected renovation costs you should look out for.

3. Would I be able to take a look at your previous work?

This questions is must when it comes to hiring a builder, as it is the only way you’ll be able to evaluate their quality of work along with the quality of products they produce. But, if you want to go the extra mile, you might want to take the time and track down their previous clients. Here, you’ll be able to get first hand feedback along with positive or negative experiences they may have had with the builder.

4. How often should we meet?

Usually, builders like to schedule regular meetings with their clients in order to brief them on the progress, tasks that still need to be completed, along with anything they are having a hard time doing. Of course, these meetings don’t need to be detailed or go on for more than 45 minutes, they are rather the chance to catch up in terms of the site's progress. You’ll need to be able to establish a schedule with your builder at least on a weekly basis in order to stay in the loop of what exact state your home is currently in.

Meeting frequently can help you avoid mistakes, such as surpise costs. Read all about unexpected renovation costs and how to deal with them.

5. Who will be in charge or supervise everyday?

This is another critical question you need answered when hiring a builder. Not only do you need a full understanding of the tasks that are to be completed, you need to know who exactly will be in charge when these jobs are being done. You’ll also need an understanding of how many tasks the supervisor will be overseeing as this will help you determine if more than one is needed. By having more than one supervisor, you’ll be able to give yourself peace of mind knowing that there will a minimal risk of mistakes or accidents.

6. How long have you been working in this industry?

industrial-bricklayer Many builders prefer to say within the same area in order to ‘build’ their reputation, especially if it’s a tight knit community. The reputation of a builder is not only built upon the quality of their work, but the word of mouth they receive afterwards. Their level and frequency of work can also come from referrals. With this question, you can always do your own research and ask around.

It’s also important to know if the builder is familiar with the area, as many tend to stick to what they know, location wise. Or, find out if they’re willing to travel to your area on a regular basis in order to get the job done. Plus, if you come to find that your builder is new in town, it’s best to find out why, as they may be trying to cover up their bad reputation from another town.

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7. Will I be able to reach you after hours?

This will come as a given, but you will need to exchange numbers, emails and other form of contact details between you and your builder. It’s understandable that some builders would prefer not to be contact after hours as they simply would prefer to relax rather than talk work. However, it isn’t unreasonable to want to be able to contact your builder after hours in the case of an emergency. Whatever the reason, be sure to ask your builder if they are available after work hours before you decide to call them at 10pm.

8. Can I get this all in writing?

architectural-office-construction-project Before any kind of construction goes ahead, you’ll need to have everything discussed in writing. We don’t just necessarily mean contracts. We’re talking what was promised, what is expected and what was discussed prior to any construction. Not only will this essentially be both your and your builder’s safety net, it’ll also be a very persuasive tool to have in the case that something goes wrong or not to plan.

9. What documentation will I receive when the job is done?

Although the job might be done, there are still a number of documents you’ll need to go over. This can include inspection reports, marked-up plans, along with photographs detailing befores and afters of renovated areas, and most importantly, all the contact information of the sub-contractors. Plus, if new household equipment was installed, like a fireplace, you’ll also need to request a construction manual or perhaps to be given a personal lesson by the builder. In order to obtain these documents successfully, it’s best to ask your builder before construction whether or not you will be able to have access to this sort of documentation.

10. Have you ever been in a dispute before with a client?

This may appear as a personal and awkward question, but it is an important one. Like we said before, builder's craft their reputation through the work they do and the experiences they have with clients. If they have no reason to lie, they’ll be honest with you and thoroughly explain what exactly the dispute was about and how the situation was rectified. However, if a verbal response doesn’t hold any effect on you, research your builder and find out for yourself. Knowing how a builder works through issues with a client will make your decision easier in terms of whether they are hired or not.

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Tags: building new home or structure, renovate, new home, first home buyer

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