So your design and engineering have been finalised and you’re itching to turn your plans into a reality, only one final hurdle to leap and that is the build! As your will be well aware the building stage is where more than 90% of overall costs are associated, so taking the time to select the right builder is a crucial decision.
Finding a Builder
There is no shortage of builders’ details thanks to the internet, however in our experience the best relationships are forged from recommendations.
Start with trusted friends, family, and work colleagues; if their experiences with builders are limited then seek referrals from neighbors who have recently completed work and are satisfied with the outcome. Be sure to inquire about any delays, cost additions, whether the builder kept a clean site or was easy to communicate with.
Another avenue is to discuss recommendations with your designer or engineer, at SEQ Building Design we work with a number of builders and are very familiar with the quality of their work and are always happy to provide recommendations.
If you are still stuck, jump in the car and drive your local streets. It will quickly become apparent which builders are completing the majority of work in the neighborhood; they will usually have their sign up out front advertising their company.
Selecting a builder
First and foremost, be prepared and know what you want to achieve; the more guess work required by your builder the less details that will be included with your quotation.
Secondly, be honest. Quoting on a large build is a very involved task, made harder when a client is keeping their cards close to their chest. Many builders won’t put the time and effort into a proposal if they don’t feel a potential client is willing to be upfront with them.
It is also recommended you meet with a number of builders, get a feel for their character, how they conduct themselves and whether you will be comfortable working with them on your proposed project.
Don’t be afraid to ask for referees, a good builder will have no hesitation sharing the contact details of satisfied clients. Many of our clients do the same before engaging SEQ Building Design to design and engineer their home.
Review the type and style of homes your builder has completed, just because a builder has plenty of experience doesn’t necessarily mean it is with the type of project you are proposing e.g. A builder experienced in renovating colonial homes will be better acquainted with the tricks associated with a 70 – 80 year old home than a builder who is just experienced constructing new homes.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. Communication is vital with your chosen builder and you want to be certain you can have an easy and open dialogue.
The great leveler, while we may not understand how everything works we can all understand how much something costs so it is natural to compare service providers on this alone. The difficulty with building projects is that there can be a number of different ways to achieve the same outcome, a number of different ways to interpret a brief and a number of different ways to structure a quote so it may not be the most accurate indicator of your projects final outcome.
There is a rule, gather five quotes, toss the cheapest and the dearest and you are left with three potential candidates…
Note: Regardless of the number of quotes you receive, it is always worth having a conversation with each quote provider – even the dearest and cheapest quotes have something to tell you e.g. the cheapest quote may include a method for achieving a substantial cost reduction missed by your other builders or perhaps it was factored in as additional profit, alternatively the dearest quote may have a provision for something that has potentially been under-quoted or completely missed by your other builders.
Two costs that can vary greatly from quotation to quotation are ‘Provisional Sum’ and ‘Prime Cost’…
Provisional Sums (PS)
Are used for proposed work your contractor can not provide a definite cost on at the time of contract; your builder must make all reasonable enquiries to obtain a definite cost. Common examples are swimming pools and landscaping.
Prime Costs (PC)
Are used for items that has not been selected by the owner and for which a price cannot be defined at the time of contract. Your builder will allocate an estimated cost for these items based on discussions with the owner and there experience with the proposed item costs. Common examples are tap-ware and white goods.
A good builder will minimize the number of PS and PC items in your contract, whoever this will depend on the level of information provided by the owner.
It is prudent to do your homework prior to meeting with builders (as noted in ‘Selecting a Builder’) so you know the costs associated with the different renovated areas (e.g. Kitchen / Bathrooms / Bi-Fold Doors) so your builder is better informed and you can gauge the level of effort and honesty your builder has applied to your proposal.
Contracts are designed to protect the interest of the associated parties, for residential building work in Brisbane the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is the established statutory authority regulating building work.
All residential building work exceeding $3,300 is subject to the requirements of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 2000 (DBCA), this includes new homes and renovation work, sheds, driveways, landscaping, kitchen or bathroom renovations etc…
You can form your own contract with the right legal advice of course, but it is likely you will work from a contract available from the QBCC or industry body like the HIA.
Some key contract points for Brisbane residential work to be aware of…
- For proposed works $20,000 or more, maximum deposit amount cannot exceed 5% (this is total price including all materials, labour and G.S.T)
- For proposed works less than $20,000, maximum deposit amount cannot exceed 10% (this is total price including all materials, labour and G.S.T)
- Progress payments need to be stipulated in your contracted, standard stages and amounts tend to be Deposit 5%, Base 10%, Frame 15%, Enclosed 35%, Fixing 20% and Practical Completion 15%. Progress payments are paid on completion of each stage not in advance.
- If your contract price is subject to change, the contract must include a warning to this affect.
- Start and completion dates must be stated on the contract.
Project costs should be clearly stated within the contract and separated according to lump sum (fixed costs), prime cost (PC) amounts and provisional sums (PS). Schedules need to be provided itemizing the allocated costs for PC and PS amounts with your contractors mark-up itemized also.
What is important once you have received your quotes is to ensure you are comparing like for like. Prime Costs and Provisional Sums can vary from quote to quote so drill down on the allocated costs to determine whether the cheaper quotes are actually good value or just creatively written proposals.
As stated above in ‘Pricing’ talk to your builders, ask questions about the quotes you receive. A committed builder will be more than happy to run through the finer details of the quote they have provided or cover off on any questions you may have.
As with any contract, you should always read through thoroughly, any areas that are unclear of cause concern should be questioned or independent legal advice sought.
It is worth noting that while pricing is a large factor when deciding on a builder it shouldn’t be your only consideration. With the correct preparation and advise from the right Building Design firm you should have a good approximation of the overall costs of your project and budgeted accordingly, bringing the decision of which builder down to the builder who is most capable of delivering the results you are after.
Thinking about renovating? Contact SEQ Building Design on 07 3257 7224 for an exploratory chat about your requirements.