How can you find a Sydney builder and building company for your custom home build or to help construct your extension or renovation?

They all promise the world, but how do you confidently choose a Sydney builder.  You want a builder who is going to complete a high-quality build, understand your needs and creative vision, as well as communicate and work with you as a team?

Your building project does not need to be painful or stressful

It’s one thing to have a builder who is great at his job, but if he has zero communication skills, the process will be painful and stressful for you.  Alternatively, a Sydney builder who is a great talker but when it comes to building, well, let’s just say his project management or trades are questionable.

How to choose a Sydney builder

You can have it all.  A builder with great communication skills with amazing workmanship and detailed project management!

Read on to see what you need to consider (and the mistakes to avoid) when looking for a builder for your custom home or home renovation project.

Check the builders company details

Before engaging with a builder, do some initial checks ensuring the builder runs a legitimate business.  Get the builders full business details such as company name, registered office (not a PO Box), and business number (called an ABN).

You can look up their ABN number here to double check that their business is current and registered with ASIC (the regulator of Australian businesses).

Check their building and trade licences

Each of the specialised trades – builder, plumber, electrician, drainage, air conditioning and refrigeration – will need the correct licence to complete the type of work.

Use the Department of Fair Trading’s online tool to check the trades the Sydney builders licence covers them for and whether the licence is current.  This tool also lists any conditions on the licence.  These conditions can include any public warnings regarding the licence holder (under Section 23 of the ACT), formal cautions, penalty infringement notices and any instances of non-compliance with a related tribunal order.

Get the Sydney builders licence number/s and click here to check it at the register for NSW builder licences.

Get building quotes

We recommend you get three quotes from different Sydney builders.  By going through this process, you can not only see the cost to build with different builders.  As well as helping you experience their approach, communication skills and what they are like to work with.

Go through each of the quotes, line by line, and tick against your scope of works.  Specifically, ensure the quote includes ALL elements in your scope of works, specifies the materials and the cost of labour in each of the build stages.

compare builders quote

Line by line, check your building quote against your scope of works.

Compare builder quotes

When comparing each of the quotes, make sure you are comparing like for like.   The more itemised the quote the easier it will be to compare.  This will enable you see the range in building costs and if you need to factor in extra costs to some of the quotes.

If a quote from one builder seems significantly cheaper compared to another quote, buyer beware.  To get to this price the builder may be cutting corners or providing unskilled trades.  Perhaps they are providing lower quality building materials or have cut out some part of the project you are not aware of.  Or the builder with the higher quote may be including items not in your scope of works or charges more for labour.

We can’t stress enough to ask lots of questions about what is and is not included in each quote, the materials and their workmanship.  If something is included in your scope of works, do not assume it has been included in the quote.

Remember, the least expensive is not always the cost effective, and the most expensive doesn’t always equate to a better build.

Examine the schedule of works

After comparing quotes, we recommend you compare each builders schedule of works.  Some builders will have a large team and juggle many projects at once.  Whereas other builders will finish one job first before starting another one.

If time is of the essence for you – for example, you will need to rent while the build is taking place, or you will be paying two mortgages – any building delays could be costing you money.  This added expense will need to be taken into account to the whole cost of the project.

Read the building contract

If your building project is above $5000, it is law for the builder to provide a building contract for any residential building work.

To be able to provide a contract for building work in NSW requires a building licence with the NSW Government Department of Fair Trading.

If you do not understand the contract, please seek advice from your solicitor.

Check the builder’s insurance cover

Your builder should be providing two types of insurance cover –

  1. Public liability insurance – this insurance protects the builder and his workers on your site. With this policy, the builder can meet legal claims for any injury to persons on site as well as any damage to your property they cause.
  1. Home Warranty Compensation (HWC) – this was previously known as home warranty insurance. It is legally required for all residential building work over $20,000.

HWC insurance covers you for –

  • Non-completion of the building contract by the builder.
  • Failure of the builder to correct faults, which are deemed by law to be the builders responsibility for a nominated warranty period. In NSW, the warranty period is 6 years for major defects and 2 years for non-major defects.

A builder needs a certificate of eligibility to be able to provide home warranty compensation.  This means they have been assessed by icare (the only provider of HWC through its brokers) and have been granted the entitlement to apply for a certificate of insurance on your behalf.

Learn more about the home warranty compensation here.

Your builder will arrange this insurance cover usually after you accept their quote.  You will receive a copy of the insurance documents for your records.

Talk to previous clients

Ask the builder if you can speak to previous clients whom they have completed similar home building projects.

In most circumstances, if a client is happy, they are generally willing to speak to others about their experience.  This will give you a fair idea of what it is like to work with this Sydney builder without all the sales hype.

Some questions to ask –

  • Ask them to give you a quick rundown of the project they contracted the builder to work on – a custom home build, renovation, extension or knock down/rebuild, or a development?
  • What was the builder like to work with on a day to day basis?
  • How did you find the workmanship of each of the trades?
  • How did the builder handle problems or issues that arose during the build?
  • Were you notified of schedule problems or changes that needed to be made? Were these brought to your attention in a timely manner?
  • Did the builder seek to change prices during the build? Did they get your approval before commencing with work at the new price?
  • Were any requests made for changes to the amount of progress payments during the build or ask for payments prior to the stage being completed?

If possible, ask to inspect their work.

You can also ask the builder if you can visit the site of a current build project.  A safe and tidy site speaks volume about pride in their work and the quality of workmanship.  Talk to some of the trades on site to get a feel for how they are treated.

Also, ask to view one of their finished build projects.  You will be able to see first-hand their craftmanship, and the complete build.

Can you work with the builder long-term?

Depending on how big your building project is, you may be working with your chosen Sydney builder for over twelve months.  Actually, it takes time to finalise plans, work through the quote and contract, get council approvals and documentation in order and the actual building process – you may be spending a considerable amount of time with the builder and his team.

Have you enjoyed a good rapport with the builder and his team, up to this point?

Can you trust the builder?

Trust is one of the top priorities when choosing a builder.  You may need to use your instinct here but answering these questions will help you decide –

Does the builder do what he says he is going to do?

Have they been responsive to your needs so far?

Are they patient when you don’t understand something?

Do you feel they are listening to you and understanding you?

Are they addressing all of your concerns?

Is the builder easy to get in touch with?

Something simple as being responsive to telephone calls and texts shows the builder has clear communication channels.  Above all, they value communication as part of a professional working relationship.

Once the build starts, communication will play a huge part in a successful process, so it needs to be clear and concise from the very beginning.

You may want to ask if they use a project management tool to manage the build.  These apps are an efficient way for everyone involved in your build.  What’s more, an app helps you, the builder, the trades, to see exactly what is happening and communication of changes are made, succinctly.

Use this guide to help you choose a Sydney builder.  Do your research and listen to your instincts.  You should be able to choose a Sydney builder who will make the whole process painless and no-stress. Before you know it, you are enjoying your new home with family and friends.

Contact the Sydney builders at SBR Group now to get a free quote or to answer any of your build questions.  We are only too happy to help.  Call us on 1300 676 166 or contact us here.