5 STEPS TO ENSURE YOU BUILD WITH A QUALITY HOME BUILDER
If you’re considering building a new home, and you’re having nightmares about getting to the completion date and not being happy with it because it’s poor quality, then read on – this blog will give you the tips and tools on how to handle things so that you build with a quality home builder and your bad dream doesn’t come true.
Step 1 – Defining Quality
Step one is to define what quality means. What it means to you, but also what it means to the industry and also the authorities that govern the industry.
There are oodles of differing expectations out there in the big wide world, and what someone may say is good quality, another person may reject as not being up to standard. Unfortunately quality is not a black and white concept like 1 + 1 = 2. When it comes to defining quality, it could be 1 + 1 = 2.2 or sometimes only 1.6.
So before you delve into getting a home built, do some thinking about what quality really means to you. And do some research – look up the industry norms. You might even want to make a list: will it be straight and square? will the tile grout joints be straight? Do the doors shut firmly with no air gaps? You get the gist.
Step 2 – Do Your Research on the Builder
The next step is to look closely at your builder. Visit the display home and have a general look at the quality – does it tie in with your expectations of quality? And then see if you can find out what others are saying about the builder. Do they have a reputation as a quality home builder? Do they have good reviews on websites and forums?
Drilling into the past performance of the builder you want to do your new home is an important part of settling that nightmare. Past performance is not strictly always an indicator of future performance, but it’s often a reliable gauge of what will happen in the future. Chances are that if a builder has done a dodgy job in the past it will happen again sometime. And vice versa – if your builder has a proven track record of doing a jolly good job, then it’s highly likely that this will continue.
And tell them your quality expectations. If they hear what you want, they may say that they can’t help you. If this is the case, be grateful for their honesty and move on to someone else. An open discussion about your expectations will go a long way to paving the way for a good outcome.
Step 3 – Documentation
Ok, so you’re satisfied with the builder of your choice, and you get to signing docs. This is the 3rd step to making sure you get a quality outcome – making sure the documents are correct.
There’s 2 sides to this coin. One is the detail of the home itself. The plans. The specs. Costings. Features. Detailed expectations of inclusions and exclusions. Colours. Finishes. Etc. And while this is important, it’s not everything.
The contract (terms & conditions) is the flip side of the coin. What sort of contract are you signing? Does it comply with the regulations? Does it cover you as well as the builder if something goes wrong? Does it reference quality standards? Can you clearly see a commitment from the builder in the contract that they’ll do the right thing? Are there clauses that allow for defects to be rectified?
A key component of a legal contract is the complusory warranty period after the home has been handed over. We’ve got another blog on that – worth reading. But it’s well known that no home build ever goes absolutely perfect from start to finish, and that’s what a warranty period is for.
Step 4 – How does the Builder Enforce Quality?
The 4th step is to find out how the builder enforces quality themselves. Many builders will have some system of checking quality as the build progresses – see if you can find out about this and how it works. Do they have their own set of standards that their team works to? Do they have set inspection or check points along the way? And what do they do about it if they pick up that something’s off beam? The presence of a QA system is a good sign that you’ll get a quality result.
Step 5 – Communication
And the 5th and final step is regular interaction with the builder during the construction process. It’s very important to maintain a good relationship with the builder – holding them accountable for quality is what you need to do, but it’s going to be a hard job for you if you’re not on friendly terms with them.
So this involves regular communication and inspections of the home. Ask them questions about things that are happening – especially things that are on your list of quality expectations. And raise your concerns early – don’t ‘wait and see’. Of course, don’t pester the builder – he needs time to actually get the work done. And of course, only inspect the home with the builder present.
Ongoing communication with the builder during the build is where you can pick up on things you’re not happy with and get them sorted out. It’s important that if you see something you say something. Easier to get it sorted at the time than later on! Then again, you might see something and mention it to the builder only to find out that they’ve already picked up on it through their own checking system and they’re onto it!
Always work on the old adage that a job well planned is a job already half done before you’ve even started. Knowing what you want before you start is good. Getting the builder to understand what you want is great. Pulling it all together through consistent and comprehensive communication is the apex!