Property Insights

10 QUESTIONS To Ask Before Hiring a Builder

It’s no secret that renovating and building can a very stressful experience. But – and here’s the key – it doesn’t have to be this way. Engaging the right builder can make all the difference. However, if you’ve not had any experience in this area, it can be quite daunting. 

By asking these ten critical questions, you can sidestep the bad ones (and the stressful budget blowouts that follow).

1. Are you a licensed builder?

Although it sounds like we’re stating the obvious, this is so important to ask. People often assume they are working with a licensed builder, or they’ve decided to pursue a cheaper option and pick an unlicensed builder to save money. 

One word: don’t.

The results can be disastrous. Do a quick Google search to check that your builder of choice is licensed before signing a contract. The alternative could be very costly.

2. Do you have Home Indemnity Insurance?

Before you pay a cent to a builder, ensure they issue you a Certificate of Currency for Home Indemnity Insurance. This protects owners against financial loss if a builder is to become insolvent, disappear or pass away.

3. Have you ever been declared bankrupt?

It may seem impersonal to ask this, but there are unfortunately some in this industry with a reputation for doing a runner mid-job. You don’t want to be in a situation with a half-built house. For your peace of mind alone, ask this question.

4. Are there hidden expenses I should know about?

No one likes surprise bills. Site costs are one of the biggest unforeseen costs in residential building and can often amount to over $50k. These hidden expenses include disturbed or unstable soil, building over sewer or stormwater pipes, rocks below the ground, building to the boundary (especially for narrow lots), retaining walls, removing trees and site access. Are utilities connected? Avoid a budget blow out by asking if it’s your responsibility to pay for the connection of utilities.

5. What overlays and covenants affect my site?

Before you sign with a builder, you need to know if any overlays and covenants affect your site: The most common types in Australia are:

Character/Heritage: some councils have character overlays which outline the acceptable façade (street facing side) options available to you, meaning you may not be able to demolish and build a new home and will have to renovate instead. Heritage overlays have further restrictions on structural changes affecting the exterior appearance of a property. 

Flooding: blocks in flood-prone areas may require a home to be raised or additional site fill. 

Acoustic: Building materials required for houses near main roads will most likely need a higher degree of sound insulation. 

Environment and landscape: If your land is home to protected vegetation, planning overlays may impact your ability to remove trees or build in certain areas. 

Bushfire: the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) affects the permissible designs and materials which could make building in this area more expensive. 

6. What are my inclusions/exclusions? 

Don’t be mistaken into thinking everything within the house is included in the costings. Check on floor and window coverings, light fittings, fly screens, mirrors, driveways and landscaping otherwise be prepared to pay more for those things.

7. How long will the building maintenance period last?

A builder agrees to perform building maintenance for a period of time after the property is handed over to you. Twelve months is standard for residential properties. Remember you can always complain to places such as the QBCC if you notice any defects outside of this maintenance period, visit the QBCC’s website for more information on complaint timeframes. 

8. Can we inspect one of your recent projects?

When you’re about to embark on such an expensive exercise, it’s important to be sure about the builder you choose. Check if they have any testimonials from former clients and ask to inspect any recently completed work.   

9. Will you be able to accommodate my vision and meet my brief?

Your vision for your new home or renovation might seem simple to you, but a builder might have other thoughts. If they push back or question everything, it’s worth shopping around until you find a builder who is aligned with your vision and can meet the brief.

10. What happens if the completion date is not met?

Circumstances including wet weather, supply hold-up or variations and disputes can derail a completion date. Some contracts will have a clause relating to this and some do not. Usually, if the builder requires longer, they will claim allowable extensions of time in accordance with the contract. Be sure to hold back the final payment until all works are complete and never sign a contract without an agreed timeline.

Ozzilat will guide you through a step-by-step process to avoid all of these potential pitfalls and design a fixed-price home package to suit all of your requirements. Alternatively, we are happy to provide a second opinion and pricing comparisons on your contract before you commit. 

Residential Property Stories

Explore some of our other residential success stories.

18 Third Street, Camp Hill

18 Third Street, Camp Hill

“It has been one of the best experiences of building a house with Ozzilat. They have been very helpful throughout the journey of building this house. Highly recommended !!” – Client

Lot 20, Eliza Close, The Gap

Lot 20, Eliza Close, The Gap

With strict budgets & stringent timeframes, we overcame the odds and worked between the builder and client to achieve the desired end product.

Redzel Court, Logan Reserve

Redzel Court, Logan Reserve

One Street – Two Investments

With a combined $400,000 of equity uplift between our two Dual Occupancy House and Land Packages on this street, these well satisfied clients have achieved over 9% net cashflow yields and are drawing on equity to further expand their portfolios

– Ozzilat Property, 2023

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