5 things you should look for in a builder

by Jessica Rowe

If you're a first-time renovator, avoid disaster by asking your tradesmen these five questions.

You've agreed on a style, chosen the colour palette, and now you start planning the big ‘reno'. But before you rip out the bath or knock down the walls, it's incredibly important you find the right tradesmen. After all, you're trusting a stranger to upgrade your home.

To avoid a renovation nightmare and money going down the drain, here are five things you should ask potential builders.

  1. Do you have a building licence?

    Never assume a contractor or builder has a licence. Although it's unlikely they won't have one, it's better to be safe than sorry. Inexperienced builders could potentially ruin your home, use cheap materials or not complete the works to industry standards.

    Don't risk it. Check if your reno expert is licensed.

  2. How many years of experience do you have?

    Practice makes perfect, and the more experience the better - especially if you're renovating an older style home. Ask your expert how many years they've been working for and to see their portfolio - especially when it comes to things like design where taste is a factor. It may also be worth speaking to previous clients - their experience could potentially save you thousands.

  3. How will you charge me for your services?

    There are different ways builders invoice, and depending on your financial situation one may suit you better than the other. Some will charge by the hour plus materials, while others will estimate the job at the beginning and cap the quote. Deposits are often required to secure the works.

  4. Who will supervise the renovation?

    An on-site supervisor ensures the renovation is completed honestly and to industry standards - no cutting corners or shortcuts. It's important someone monitors the work from day one to finish (just like Keith Schleiger from The Block).

  5. Do you guarantee your workmanship?

    Construction companies should offer a structural and workmanship guarantee. This is to protect the homeowner from faulty works. These could include damaged plumbing fixtures, poor plastering, roof leaks, electrical faults, wall and ceiling cracks and uneven floors - you shouldn't have to pay to fix a bad renovation.

    By asking these questions in the beginning, you could avoid pulling your hair out and instead focus on planning your second housewarming.