May 10, 2022 by Snupit

There are many things to consider when hiring a builder. Some of these things might not occur to you at first; for example, it is important that you get along with your builder. Depending on the project, this person and their team will be working in the sanctity of your home and open and clear communication is vital. It’s important to feel comfortable and to trust the person undertaking your project.

Additionally, projects like this can go on for extended periods of time, where you are living alongside chaos. If it’s an option to discuss the build at the end of the day, over a beer or a cup of tea, you give yourself the chance to enjoy the experience more.

What are some of the questions you should ask and what do you need to consider when hiring a builder? When you’re comparing options, keep the following in mind:

1. When are they available?

One of the first things to ask is whether the builder is available for the time you would like the work to be completed. If they are not available, maybe they can point you in the direction of someone who is.

2. Are they registered builders with the NHBRC?

The Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act 95 of 1998 was introduced into South African law to protect housing consumers. The law established the National Homebuilders Registration Council (NHBRC) as the regulatory body of the home building industry. Your builder needs to be registered with the NHBRC in order to work on your house. This will ensure that they are qualified and that they are reputable. You can check on the NHBRC website or by calling the NHBRC toll-free number (0800 200 824) to make sure that your builder is registered with them. Builder not registered? This is a massive red flag. Find a different option!

3. Do they have liability insurance?

Ask about their liability insurance. Liability insurance is vital when completing a renovation project in your home. There are dangers to you and your property as well as to the health and safety of the workers handling the project. Liability insurance will protect you and the builder’s company in an incident of this nature.

4. Do they have the required permits?

Depending on the work you’re undertaking, it may be necessary to have permits. Ask your builder if they have the required permits and whether they can provide proof of this, or if there is a process to acquire the permits for your home. You’ll also need to get approved building plans from your local municipality before you move forward with your project, if there are any major renovations occurring that alter the structure or floor plan of your house. Your builder should be able to advise and assist you with this.

5. Do they have references for you to contact?

It is always nice to be able to check in with someone who has gone before you. Ask your builder if it would be possible to talk to someone who they have completed similar work for. If it is possible, ask the contact what experience they had with their builder, ask if you can see pictures of the end project and find out if there was anything they were particularly happy or unhappy about. Undertaking a large renovation project can be expensive and doing the research and reference checking at the start will set you up for a successful relationship with your builder and a successful project.

6. What reviews do they have?

Even if you’ve covered point 5, you should still check other reviews. Look up the company online and look at all the reviews you can find. If there is a bad review, look at what the person complained about: were they being unfair or do you think they had a legitimate reason to leave a poor review?

7. What is their building experience?

You want a builder who has experience, and specifically has experience in the work that you are looking to get done. This doesn’t mean that you should discredit younger candidates necessarily; many builders have apprentice programs that will help younger people develop a portfolio of work.

8. What work do you need done?

Try to find examples from your potential builder that are similar to the work that you would like done. It may not be the best idea to hire a builder that builds beautiful lapas to renovate your kitchen. Do your research, ask your builder what they specialise in, and what their preferences are.

9. Compare quotes

When you have selected a couple of builders that are good candidates to complete the work, ask them to provide a quote of how much it would cost to complete the project. When you have a couple and you are comparing them, look at the detail of the listed items; what is included and excluded, is there any small print to pay attention to? Look at whether travel time and petrol costs are included. Depending on the scope of the project, the builders may provide a condition to charge less if the project is not completed by the due date they committed to if the fault is theirs. There will be many things to consider, and cheapest will not necessarily be your best option.

10. Get a contract

Your builder should provide a legally binding contract. This will work to protect both you and your builder. This contract should include payment agreements, and conditions of those payments.

11. Once decided

It may sound like overkill, but it’s a good idea to sort out toilet arrangements, working hours, lunch expectations, and a skip location from the start to avoid potential disputes later. Also ask what will happen to the project in unforeseen circumstances such as material delays, bad weather conditions, or if you are unhappy with the standard of work. Having an agreed outline to these hypotheticals can go a long way to avoid any conflict.

12. Lastly, communicate!

Try to keep a record of all the communication between you and your builder. Consider sticking to electronic communication so that there is a record, time dated, of what has been agreed on. If this is not possible, follow up face to face conversations or phone calls with emailed notes from the meeting to confirm what was discussed.

There are serious elements to consider when hiring a builder such as whether they have liability insurance, and it is also vital that you have confidence in your builders’ abilities. Building projects rarely run smoothly, so there may be some challenges up ahead such as time delays and budget problems. Having a good, reliable builder will be an asset to your experience in renovating your home and to your building team.

And remember to be kind to your self during this process. Building can be stressful but it can be so much fun if you’re able to take a break and remember why you are undertaking this work. Good luck and enjoy!

Filed under : Builders
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