Hiring a builder can be pretty scary, especially if you have never done it before. Don’t get caught out by a bad builder, do your homework right from the start and you should have smooth sailing all the way through your project.

Nearly every month we see cowboy builders appearing on various watchdog television shows with accusations of shoddy workmanship and half finished jobs. Whilst they are often the minority, they still manage to catch unsuspecting homeowners out with their smooth talking and discounted prices.

Thanks to hidden cameras and programmes like Target, many of these less than popular characters were shown up for the way they had treated their customers and subsequently suffered for it. However there are still many more operating out there in the marketplace.

When it comes to matters of the home we cannot be too careful. Ending up with a rogue builder is simply a situation you don’t want to be in! So what can you do to make sure you hire the right builder? One you know will finish the job on time and to a high standard. Easy, you do your research and follow a few simple rules. Here is a quick and simple guide on how to hire a builder.

Looking For Builders

We will start with word of mouth, have any of your friends or family used a good builder recently? Has anyone you work with recently hired a builder? Having a builder referred to you is a great start as they have already done a good job for someone you know. These people should always be put on your list of builders to interview. You will want to interview no less than 5 builders when looking to hire a builder.

Searching builders on Yellow is also a quick way of finding reliable builders, as they often are registered tradesmen, part of the Master Builders and many other representations of union. The nice reality is that for the most part the cowboys can’t afford those big ads and to belong to the many organizations that quality builders do. It’s just a good, fast, early indicator of who is qualified and who is not. You will want to book 4 appointments from your 4 most qualified and professional looking ads. Also, dealing with large reputable builders can have some neat advantages like not paying rent for the duration of your build ! Highmark Homes for instance are one of the companies that does just that.

The Meeting

Set up 1 to 2 days to do your 5 interviews over and arrange a time with each builder. Let them choose the time. This will normally be the most convenient time they can make it so if they are late to this one, they really are not too good at managing their time.  When they show up, first appearances count for everything, so if your prospective builder is offensive-looking, very unkempt and driving a poor quality vehicle they are probably not the builder for you.

Start the meeting by showing the builder what you want done. Your builder should be listening throughout your explanation and should only be interrupting to ask questions in regards to what you are explaining. Builders who do all the talking at this point are not listening and will probably just over talk you down the track should you hire them and a dispute arises. Once you have finished explaining what you would like done, listen to what the builder has to say. Does it sound like it fits in with what you are hoping to achieve?

The Questions

Next step, questions. These are most important as they are your easiest tools of investigation.
1. Where is your most recent job located and can we drive past and have a look?
2. Would it be possible to talk to the owners of that property?
3. Do you have other properties we could look at and possibly talk to the owners there as well?
4. Which trade bodies are you currently registered with (Registered Builders Association etc…)?
5. Have you owned any building companies that have been shut down in the last 5 years?
6. How long have you been in business for?

These questions will give you some really good indicators of  the worthiness of your prospective builder. Any good builder will be able to rattle off this information freely and will often openly invite you around to where they are working to meet the owner. Any builder who seems edgy or reluctant to give out information based on “client confidentiality” when you ask for job addresses should be avoided at all costs.


Now it’s time to review your builders after the meeting. First on the list is checking out their current or most recent jobs. Do they look good? Are the people happy? Make sure you check out as many recent testimonials as you can. Check out their company with the appropriate trade bodies. Are they registered? Have there been any complaints? Last but not least is a director and company search on the Companies Office website. This will tell you how long they have been in business, if the company is facing liquidation and if the director has owned any building companies that have been shut down.

By following these simple few steps you will greatly decrease your chances of having a bad building experience. Most builders do know what they are doing however it’s just a matter of caution when it comes to your biggest asset. Like one famous person said a long time ago: “you are better off to be safe than sorry”.

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