Useful Tips

Builders – questions to ask

Builders – questions to ask

The information here is specifically for Victoria, but there will be similar rules and authorities in your state. Contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.

If you are thinking of renovating or building, make sure you get the job done right first time with a good builder who will help make your dreams a reality, rather than dragging you through a nightmare. Here are some questions you can ask a potential builder to save you a lot of heartache.

Are they a licenced builder?
Only ever work with a registered building practitioner. Ask for the builder’s registration number and check it on the Victorian Building Authority website.

Do they have Home Indemnity Insurance?
The builder must provide a current certificate of domestic building insurance for your building project (including the project’s address, cost of the work, builder’s registration details) before taking a deposit and starting work. This covers you for financial loss should the builder die, become insolvent or do a runner.

Are there any current or past building disputes underway?
This will let you know about the builder’s general reliability and professionalism as well as the overall quality of their work. Check if they are involved in legal or disciplinary action with Consumer Affairs Victoria, the Victorian Building Authority, the Building Practitioners Board or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (check this on their websites)

Have they ever been declared bankrupt?
A bankrupt company may pull the plug without warning leaving you stuck with a half built house and searching for a builder willing to complete the job. Check their history to make sure they haven’t done this before.

Do they work in the area you are building?
The builder may not be interested in building somewhere where they have to travel. They may also have to hire sub-contractors they’re not familiar with and these people may not be up to standard.

How long after completion will the building maintenance period last for?
A builder should agree to perform building maintenance for a period of time after the works are completed. Most experts recommend a six month maintenance period for residential properties.

Who supervises the property construction?
The construction supervisor is the guy who keeps everyone on their toes. When a supervisor is onsite, higher quality work is performed. Look into this person’s track record including their past experiences and duration at current employer.

Can you inspect some of their recently finished projects?
You must be able to look at the builders’ recently completed work. This way you can see for yourself if the builder is doing the type of job you want for your home. Check out the quality of products used and the work completed. If possible, ask the builders’ clients the following questions, you’ll be surprised about how forthcoming people are with details.

  • Did the builder start and finish on time?
  • Were they able to communicate regularly and clearly with the builder about any changes suggested by either party, or about queries relating to quality?
  • Did the builder put details and the price of changes in writing and get them to sign off before making changes?
  • Did the builder’s sub-contractors arrive on time and do a good job?
  • Did the builder request any changes to the amount of stage payments or ask for payments before a stage was complete?
  • Were they satisfied that the quality of the work matched the contract?
  • What was the builder’s customer service like?
  • What was the builder’s quality control procedures like?
  • Did the builder give clear and regular updates on progress and were they available to meet when requested?
  • Did the builder communicate clearly, verbally and in writing?

What other projects will they be involved with while working on your house?
The more the builder can concentrate on your job, the fewer mistakes they will make. The project will most likely be done faster.

And finally…
Remember, building a new home is a huge financial and emotional investment. Take the extra time to do a thorough check on any prospective builder, their workmanship, references and credentials.

Consumer Affairs Victoria have more detailed checklists which you may find useful: