WHO ARE THE BUILDERS OF MY NEW HOME?
There’s really two completely different answers to this question – the actual name or names of the people who will be building the home, or an explanation of how the construction team is made up. This blog is mostly about the second answer, but we’ll also provide some insight into checking the names of your builder. So if you’re asking the question who are the builders of my new home, then read on.
Firstly, is your builder a small business or a large organisation? Or perhaps it’s in the middle somewhere? Identifying the size of the company that’s going to build your home will help you get a better understanding of who the builder is.
See, in principle, only a person can be a builder, not a business or a team. Although the government does allow a company to share a builders license that’s held by a person, in reality it’s a physical human being that holds the builders license.
So even in a large building company, there’s going to be – or by law, there has to be – at least one person that holds a licence to build. This means that there’s at least one person in the organisation that’s qualified, has the skills and experience to bring it all together. Or at least you’d hope so …
Now in a small one-man band, it’s pretty self explanatory who’s holding the hammer. But how does it work in a larger business?
Enter the concept of contractors or subcontractors. This is where the builder contracts out the literal work of building the home. They source another person or group of persons to go and do the work on their behalf. Sometimes these contractors may have a builders license in their own right but more often than not they don’t.
But remember, being licensed and being qualified are not the same thing – there are squillions of highly qualified, skilled and experienced tradespeople out there that don’t have a license simply because they haven’t applied for it – for a multitude of reasons.
So if we look at the one-man band again, this guy is going to be out there building the frame and installing the roof trusses, putting in the windows and doors, and .. but then even he can’t do everything. You need to be a qualified plumber to run water pipes, and the same goes for the electrical wiring. And generally even these small builders will bring in contractors for things like plastering, tiling, cabinetry and painting.
The key difference with small vs big is that the builder will always have a one to one relationship with the contractors, discussing the specifications and requirements directly with the people who will be doing the work, and ultimately supervising then and making sure it’s done right.
But in the big companies, there’s not that same coalface relationship between the person who holds the license and the guys and gals out on site doing the work. In fact, the builder often wouldn’t have a clue who’s out there weilding the hammer and nails. But bear in mind that the builder has been there and done that so they know what it’s all about. In actual fact, it’s often the case that they wouldn’t have got where they were if they hadn’t been very good at it.
So the key here is a system. In big organisations, the whole thing works by a system. And we don’t necessarily mean some fang-dangled computer system, but a method of bringing it all together to achieve the desired outcome for both the customer and the builder.
The builder determines how the work should be done, not necessarily for each job, but in principle. And then they find someone who can translate that into the plans and work schedule for each individual project. And then they do the same for all of the other tasks that need to be done such as the costing, the contract with the customer, the insurances, and material sourcing.
And then of course the same goes with the actual tradies out on site. The builder has a system of finding the right people to do the job at the right price for a job well done. So you might say the person who holds the actual license puts his or her stamp right across everything that’s done. And this is important, for two reasons.
- The builders reputation is at stake. Large building companies have generally all evolved from very small one-man bands who likely had a very good reputation for outstanding work, and as they’ve grown they’ve had to find a way to weave this good results into a system so that the outcomes remains the same. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way, but that’s the theory.
- Legally, the builder is responsible for the results. See, getting a builders license means you can work for the open market. Without a builders license you can only subcontract to someone else who holds the license. So when a builder holds a license, it means that they’ve demonstrated an ability to do the right thing by the book, ultimately the building code and Australian Standards. Which means that if something goes wrong, the government puts the blame on them, even if it wasn’t them that did the work. Harsh? Maybe, but it’s a reality and is happening all the time through the courts.
A medium size organisation is somewhere between the two. You’ll often find the builder getting involved in various tasks from time to time, and they’ll often know many of the contractors that are working on the sites, but there’s also a system running behind the scenes that’s the oil in the machine. It’s a bit like the best of both worlds. Of course, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it – it’s results that count.
So, when you’re signing a contract with a building company, it’s good to find out the name and credentials of the builder behind it all. In a small organisation this will be easy – in fact you’re probably already dealing with them. But in a large organisation, you’ll need to delve in a little bit. Ask the representative you’re working with for the name or names and if they can provide details about their building history. They’ll often be more than happy to provide this info. And then do some googling – look up the building regulatory authority in your state to see what else you can find out about them.
The next steps are to ask about the contractors and supervisors (or site managers). Who are they? Where do they come from? How long have they been working for the company?
Organisations generally aren’t able to provide the names of the contractors for privacy reasons, and also sometimes because they aren’t sure which contractors will be working on your home. Big organisations have multiple contractors which get moved around based on timing and availability. And of course, sometimes contractors will drop out or move on for a whole host of reasons.
But don’t get too worried about the individual contractors – if the company has a good reputation and you’re happy with your research on the person who holds the license, then as a general rule all will be fine. Just don’t expect the builder of a bigger business to be out there with his nailbag on putting the frames together!
Yes we can!
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