What to Ask your Builder

Renovating or building your home in Auckland or North Shore is stressful enough, without having to worry about cowboy builders making huge costly errors. A few simple questions before you hire someone could save you a huge headache!

If you do not engage a good local Auckland/North Shore building company it can turn your a dream home experience into a bottomless money pit. I’ve been to plenty of barbeque’s and social events where people have told me some terrible stories about unskilled and dodgy builders who skip corners, shirk responsibility and generally hard to communicate.

But if you’ve never dealt with a builder before how do you know where to start? Get the job done right the first time and figure out whether the builder is a cowboy by asking these crucial questions.

1. Are you a licenced builder?

Licensing for builders is relatively new in NZ however using a licenced builder is the best way to ensure you have the right person on your job. They have to give you a 10 year guarantee and can have their licence revoked by the council.This is the first question you need to ask. Only ever work with licensed tradesmen.  As this is relatively new in NZ you may not be aware of the importance of it but I must reinforce do not go with an unlicensed builder to save money. The results can be disastrous. Each council allows you to run a search on builders to check their licence, a simple Google search for ‘check a builder’s licence’ will get you started. Our Auckland and North Shore project managers are licenced, giving you piece of mind during the renovation.

2. Do you have limited liability insurance?

This is a very important question to ask your builder. You need to make sure that the company working on your renovation is covered and you also need to make sure that you get contract works insurance. This is so that anything new you are adding to your house is covered in case of a fire or natural disaster.

3. How long do you offer a warranty?

Licensed Auckland and North Shore builders automatically give a 10 year warranty, however you need to make sure the company you choose is here to stay. If anything goes wrong you need the piece of mind that your builder will still be there long after your renovation is finished.

4. Do I have to make progress payments to the builder?

Depending on what choice you made in the quoting stage (charge up or quote) you must make progress payments if your contract requests it. You and your builder are free to decide on whatever method you choose for determining what progress payments you will make, including:

  • how many there will be
  • how much each payment will be

5. When will the house be finished?

This seems an obvious question, however don’t underestimate how hard it could make your life if your builder isn’t working to a time frame. You may of had to move out and are paying rent somewhere else on top of your mortgage. With renovations complications sometimes arise that will cause the job to take longer than predicted. However if you have chosen a company that has given you clear time-frames to begin with you can feel rest assured they will communicate any adjustments with you.

6. What is a ‘extra’?

Any renovation contract will include a ‘scope of works’. Anything over and above this is classed as an extra. For example their may be a budget allowed for the quote for your bathroom fittings. However if you choose to have the highest quality fittings you need to remember it will cost you extra. It is easy to get carried away in the excitement of choosing fixtures and forget the budget you originally were going to stick to. Make sure the Auckland or North Shore builder  you choose is organised tells you when things are extra so you can keep a hold of your budget.

7. What is a building code? How does it effect us?

Building to code is extremely important. The building code is decided by council and it is an inspector’s job to check that everything is built to code. I think NZ has learnt its lesson from the leaky building situation and there are stringent codes now in place to ensure this never happens again! Where our office is based in the North Shore we have seen and worked on many houses where unfortunately owners are having to reclad their house. When deciding what company to use for your renovation the fact that they are licensed is the best way for you to know they will build to code. It is also good to look out for qualified builders as they have put the hard work in learning everything they can about the building code as part of their qualification. Of course new codes are constantly coming in and the industry is always changing. The important thing to is to trust your builder that if an inspector tells them something has changed with the code, they will rectify it. 

8. Can I source my own products if I want to?

Of course there is nothing actually stopping you from sourcing your own fixtures and fittings, however most professionals will advise you against it if possible. There are a few reasons for this, firstly it can cause delays to your renovation as your project manager will not be dealing with when they arrive; secondly, they will not be covered under your building companies guarantee and if they are faulty you will have to deal with any fall out. For example, if you are renovating your bathroom and want to use your own taps, you will not be able to contact your project manager to fix it as part of their guarantee. We advise customers who want a smooth stress free renovation to work as much as possible with us as we are very experienced on the best quality and value for money fixtures and fittings.

9. How will you communicate with me?

With every mode of electronic communication at your fingertips, you may have some ideas about how you would like to receive information about your project. Your builder likely has specific ways he or she likes to communicate, too — daily emails, site meetings or maybe just phone calls. Make sure you understand how you will be contacted and receive information. If the contractor’s format doesn’t give you what you think you’ll need, agree on a method and format so that you’re not in renovating limbo on a daily basis. Weekly meetings at a specific time are an effective way to make sure you see your contractor in person to get your questions answered.



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