How to choose your builder

When deciding to build or renovate your home one of the biggest and most crucial decisions you will make is who is going to build it. Make this choice is very personal and can be a daunting process. I have come up with a few tips on how to go about making the decision, so you feel comfortable that your home is in the best hands.

1. Qualifications

All builders in Queensland must be licenced by the QBCC. In order to achieve this licence the builder needs to have satisfied a stringent checklist outlined by the QBCC which includes:

  • Completing a building qualification,
  • Satisfying financial obligations,
  • Maintaining a clean record, and
  • Fulfilling their annual reporting requirements.

It is also required that the builder display their QBCC number on all advertising, contracts and communications.

Always ask for proof that your builder and his sub-trades are licenced and double-check with the QBCC. Their website allows you to search by name and/or licence number and lists any discrepancies against their licence should they be any.

QBCC are always available to talk to as well if you are in doubt.

2. Recommendations

If the builder has done a good job for other clients, you will find that they will be more than happy to give recommendations. Online reviews and social media make it easy for you to check up on past work however not all builders have these. If you ask your builder if you can chat with previous clients, walk around the job he is currently working on or check out a few completed projects, he should more than happy to accommodate this request. If he isn’t this may raise alarms bells.

It may also pay to check with subtrades or other industry professionals that have worked with the builder. Architects, engineers, certifiers, electricians, plumbers etc. will be able to provide reviews as well. Always ask the builder for permission prior to contacting them.

3. Affiliations

There are multiple industry organisations that builders can join so they can network with like-minded people, stay on top of changes within their industry and utilise specific services that these organisations may offer. Master Builders and HIA are the most obvious affiliations with The Australian Institute of Builders being the most prestigious.

While not all builders see the value in belonging to these organisations it can fill the general public with a bit more confidence that they are choosing a professional with integrity and professionalism.


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You need to be able to trust that they are working in your best interest and that communication is clear and concise and leaves you feeling confident.

4. Quotes and Contracts

When you receive your build quote it should be clearly set out so you know how much you are going to pay for the work you want done, whether the price includes GST, what is included and what is excluded from the price and the timeframe in which the work is anticipated to be completed. If the quote isn’t clear you are well within your rights to ask for more information. Your home is most likely the biggest investment in your life and you need to know that you can afford what is being promised and there are no hidden costs or unreasonable provisional sums.

If you are asking for multiple quotes it is important to compare apples with apples and not just take the lowest price. You may choose to get multiple quotes from different builders in order to cross check pricing. Check the inclusions and exclusions on each quote when comparing as some items may be omitted or a provisional sum applied to items that may not be specified accurately.

Don’t be surprised if a builder requests payment for a quote. The process can be extremely time consuming and, depending on the job, can involve multiple sub trades and specialist suppliers who will also spend a good portion of time pricing without the guarantee of winning the work. A price to quote should be agreed upon in writing prior to any work going ahead.

Contracts are also very important, and the quote will most likely form part of the contract should you accept. Make sure the contract has been drawn up by a legal body. Master Builders and HIA have their own legal contracts that their members have access to. Some builders choose to have their own lawyers draw up their contracts. Be sure to read each and every clause regardless of how small the print is!

Only sign a contract if you feel comfortable with the information provided to you and always seek your own legal advice if you are uncertain.

5. Gut instinct

From the feeling you get from the initial phone call and the onsite meetings to the communication provided via emails and texts etc; listen to your gut instinct. You will get a feeling as to whether you can work with this person and make important decisions with them. You need to be able to trust that they are working in your best interest and that communication is clear and concise and leaves you feeling confident.

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