Customised homes are the trend of the town. Of course, what’s better than having your home built exactly the way you always envisioned.
 
With more and more Australians choosing to have their abodes constructed as per their tastes, choosing the right builder can be the bridge between a dream home and a disaster (read bad quality, no after-completion support, non-availability of the builder during the construction process etc.)
 
Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:
 
Go beyond the price
 
Price is an important part of the equation when you decide to build a home; we all know luxury doesn’t come cheap. However, don’t let price be your only guiding factor. Rate various builders on different parameters important to you including quality, experience, efficiency, building layout, promptness and transparency in paperwork.
 
Ask the right questions
 
Before you zero in on a builder, ask the right questions to make the right choice. Here’s what you need to ask the builder for sure:
 
  • Contacts of at least 3 previous clients, for there’s nothing like word of mouth to know a builder’s repute. 
  • Is the builder licensed and does he carry indemnity insurance? Remember, a builder must be licensed to carry out works costing over a certain amount. Do not work with unlicensed builders. 
  • What is included in the contract? Is the cost of the concrete slab, the foundation of your home, included? If not, it can adds thousands of bucks to the final cost. What about prices for materials yet to be decided (prime cost material)?
 
Pose other questions regarding material, quality or timing that you have. Only go ahead if the builder’s knowledge and answers to your queries seem satisfactory.
 
Experience and reputation
 
While you may be impressed by a builder’s designs, do not ever over look the importance of experience and repute. A builder who has been in the market for few years with a good number of projects under his belt is bound to have happy customers that enabled him to continue in the market. This is exactly the kind of builder you want – one who knows the market, who has experience and is bothered about maintaining his reputation, and thus, never compromises on quality.

How do you find one? Through online research, and reaching out to past clients to know their experience with the builder.
 
The ‘connect’
 
Communication is key to the building up process. You must be able to speak freely with the builder and share your thoughts and requirements. More importantly, the builder must be able to tune to your frequency and understand what you need out of the house. You may want to design the house to cater for a growing family or need an elegant workspace in your home. It is the builder’s duty to advise you whether the design is workable, give valuable suggestions and discuss ideas with you.
 
If you feel that the ‘connect’ is missing, stay away.
 
Knowing what you want, and regarding the changes
 
Custom design gives you the power of choice and choice often leads to confusion. It is a good idea to look at houses in the area and take inspiration from few to create a house tailored to your requirements. However, it is possible to come across a new idea while construction is underway. Would the builder entertain changes during the construction process?
 
Usually, builders allow variations at actual cost plus the builder’s margin, but it is best to find out in advance. While discussing those variations, make sure you are still within your budget.
 
Builder support, during and after completion
 
Considering the building process would go on for few months, the builder should be available to meet you intermittently to answer your concerns and discuss plans. Also, are you allowed to meet the cabinet makers, plumbers, electricians and tillers before such onsite work is undertaken so that you could specify your preferences? Another important aspect that is often overlooked is that of after completion support by the builder. Would the builder be helping you with your claims, servicing and other issues once you move in?
 
The fine print
 
As we always stress, make sure everything you discuss is reduced to print and read all the contracts thoroughly (including the fine print) before signing the dotted line.

It can be confusing to know whether to get a variable rate or fixed rate mortgage, and what features are important. That's why it's important to not only check the right rates, but make sure that you're getting the right features in your home loan. Get help choosing the right home loan

Atul Narang

Atul is the founder and CIO of HashChing - Australia’s first marketplace for pre-negotiated home loan deals. 

Before starting HashChing, he was successfully running his own digital agency serving small to medium size enterprises. He is passionate about digital transformation of traditional business models and has been helping clients in strategising, building and launching online products since last 9 years.

HashChing is a FinTech business which is transforming the way Australians get their home loans and has been featured in the national media multiple times.