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Builders

When should I hire a builder?
 

It's been a long time in the making, but it's finally time to start building your dream home. Or perhaps, after months or even years of saving, you're ready to put your plans into action and take the first step in your renovation journey and hire a builder.  

A builder will coordinate and oversee the construction of your general or new home building project. The skilled tradesperson will hire the required sub-contractors including plumbers, electricians, bricklayers and carpenters, to deliver your building project on time and within budget.

Regardless of the scope of your building project, this is when you should hire a builder:

Building a new home
 

Building a new home is one of the most exciting yet challenging projects you can take on. If you're planning to build a new home, hire a builder to oversee and coordinate the construction of the project from planning permission right through to moving in day.  

Extending an existing home
 

Adding an extension to the back, front or upstairs of a property is a wonderful way to increase the size and feel of a house without moving to a new location. A builder will advise on the relevant planning permission and certification required and build an extension that doesn't compromise the structure or aesthetics of the existing property.

Renovating a home
 

A renovation to your home may involve gutting rooms or whole floors and rebuilding from scratch to give the house a fresh new look and feel. If the renovation involves relocating walls or partitions, hire a builder to make sure you comply with building restrictions and don't compromise the structural integrity of the building.

Building a granny flat
 

A granny flat is not exclusively for grannies!  A smaller building added to the land of a property will often include all living amenities including a kitchenette, living area and sleeping quarters. A granny flat may be designed as a place for guests, a rental opportunity, or an office for a home-based business.  

Are there different types of builders?
 

Depending on the nature of your building project, you may want to hire one of the following different types of builder.

New home builder
 

A new home builder will work with your architect to build the property that meets your exact specifications.  

New home builders oversee every area of a new build including coordinating the tradespeople required.  A new home builder will also offer professional guidance about the most suitable tools and materials to use to construct the purpose-built home of your dreams.  

Spec home builder
 

A spec home builder constructs buildings designed by the home builder rather than the buyer.

A spec home isn't usually for sale until the build is almost complete meaning the buyer will have little-to-zero say in the design of the house, materials used, or features included.

General builder
 

A general builder will carry out construction jobs that alter or add to a residential building. A general builder may renovate, build an extension, construct features for the garden such as a waterfall of built-in barbecue, and lay driveways.  

Common builder problems
 

A successful builder requires high-level coordination skills. Here are some common builder problems:

Timelines
 

A builder will oversee and coordinate all work on the construction project which almost always involves other trades such as plumbers, electricians, plasterers, painters and carpenters.

With so many individual tradespeople involved, each dependant on their own timelines, cash flow, staffing issues and other commitments, coordination must be precise with little room for error.  

Tradespeople involved in a building project, particularly plumbers and electricians, are often dependant on the availability of each other. If something goes off track, it can impact the timelines of the whole project which the builder is responsible for.

Weather
 

Apart from interior renovations, building work is always weather dependent.

Bricks can't be laid in the rain as concrete can't have any water added to it once it's mixed and before it sets. In extreme climates, working outside in scorching heat all day can cause fatigue and heat exhaustion.

The builder must make sure it's safe for any contractor to work in extreme temperatures and that the weather won't impact the progress of the build.

A builder will factor weather delays into the time frame for the build however unforeseen weather events may still cause costly delays, particularly on larger building projects.  

Cash flow
 

While building jobs are often lucrative, there is a significant outlay of costs involved before the builder gets paid for their final product.

Costs include materials, wages of labourers and contractors, insurances and building certification, and site fees.

These costs can lead to short-term cash flow issues which is why a builder will always charge a deposit (usually 30%) before making a start on the work.

How much does it cost to hire a builder?
 

Preparing a budget to hire a builder can be overwhelming, particularly if you have relatively little experience of building projects to refer to. We've put together a handy guide to help you cost your plan to remove stress and help you enjoy the process.

Of course, how much it costs to build a home is an impossible question to answer without knowing the specific requirements.

According to BMTQS, to build a 3-bedroom weatherboard project home (single level) will cost between $1301 and $1811 per gross floor area*

* GFA can be defined as the sum of the fully enclosed covered floor area and the unenclosed covered floor area of a building at all floor levels, measured in a square metre rate.​

Depending on the requirements of the new building, this can increase to between $2940 and $5340 per gross floor area for an "architecturally designed executive residence."

This cost will include:

  • Tools
  • Materials
  • Labour
  • Certification
  • Insurance
  • Travel time to the site
  • Machinery and equipment hire

Cost per hour
 

Depending on the size and nature of the building job, a builder may charge per hour. You can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and up to $200 an hour depending on the complexity of the project.

If a builder charges per hour, make sure there will be no hidden costs for materials, labour and equipment hire so you don't get a nasty surprise when it comes time to pay the invoice. It's also advisable to get an indication of how long the job will take and request a progress update halfway through the job.

Fixed price
 

A fixed price cost will include materials, labour, and all other elements required to get the job done, regardless of how long it takes. A fixed charge won't be dependent on the time the job takes so even if you run into bad weather or delays with sub-contractors, this won't affect your final price.

The cost to hire a builder for a large project such as a house build is limitless. It's essential that you do your research and meet with many builders to make sure you're getting the best value for money.

Make sure the following are included in the fixed price quote:

  • Driveways
  • Garden and landscape
  • Building certification
  • Insurance

Please be aware that the prices mentioned are just a guide. To get an accurate quote, you should get a quote from Service.com.au today.

How to choose the right builder
 

Depending on the complexity of your project, the level of service offered by builders can vary. Do your research before choosing a builder and follow these tips:  

Tip #1: use the service.com.au online directory
 

Service.com.au is a platform designed to match your building needs with the most suitable builder. Enter details of your requirements to receive three quotes from suitable local builders.

You can click through to the builder's websites from their Service.com.au listing to see examples of their work, pricing information and previous customer reviews.

Tip #2: get recommendations from Service.com.au
 

Building projects often attract a significant cost. You need someone with excellent coordination skills, strong attention to detail, and who offers a superior level of service to deliver your project on time and within budget.

Service.com.au operates a three-tiered badge system to show you builders who are trusted, verified and highly recommended. When you pay attention to the number of badges on a builder’s Service.com.au listing, you can be sure you’re choosing a builder we would recommend.  

Tip #3: write a thorough brief
 

Before you meet with a builder, write down all your requirements including a thorough wish list and budget.

Often, what the untrained mind wants to happen won't be possible, or you may have to make adjustments. Be clear on your building needs from the outset to make sure you choose a builder who can meet them.

Does my builder need to be licensed?
 

A builder is a skilled tradesperson required to coordinate building works of an exceptionally high standard.

Because of the intricacy surrounding building work, builders across Australia are often required to hold a licence before they can charge for their services.

Each state and territory has its own governing body where you can check licensing obligations and make sure your chosen builder meets them.  

Queensland Builder Licence: The governing body for builders in Queensland is the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC). A builder working for a job of a higher value than $3300 must hold a valid licence within their class. If they specialise in more than one category, they must hold a licence for each.

Employees of licensed builders do not need to hold their own licence and can practise under their employer.

Victoria Builder Licence:  Victorian regulations state that a builder must be licensed to carry out work valued higher than $10,000. Classes of building licence in Victoria include a commercial builder, domestic builder and demolisher.

New South Wales Builder Licence: In New South Wales, a building licence is required for any building work valued over $5,000. Classes of licence include a contractor licence (allowing the builder to work for other builders and advertise their services), a qualified supervisor certificate (allowing the builder to supervise other builders), and an endorsed contractor licence (a combination of the two).

Western Australia Builder Licence: In Western Australia, there are two main classes of builder's licence. Contractor registration allows individuals and companies to trade as builders for jobs over $20,000. A practitioner may oversee a building contractor, but they may not provide building services themselves.

A builder must have a contractor's licence to provide building services.

South Australia Builder Licence: All builders in SA must hold a current licence if they intend to charge for building services including quoting, arranging subcontractors, carrying out inspections and actual building work.

Northern Territory Builder Licence: Building in the Northern Territory is regulated by the Building Practitioners Board. All building work for residential and commercial properties above $12,000 requires a licensed builder.

If the value of the job is less than $12,000 and doesn't involve increasing the floor area of a building, no licence is required.

Tasmania Builder Licence: The Tasmanian building industry is governed by the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (CBOS). All builders must be licensed as a builder, construction manager, fire protection services builder, or a demolisher.

ACT Builder Licence: All builders who wish to sell building services must be licensed in the ACT regardless of the value of the work. According to Access Canberra https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/2997#!tabs-6, builders must be licensed under one of the four categories:

  • Class A Builder (Unlimited)

  • Class B Builder (medium rise)

  • Class C Builder (low-rise residential)

  • Class D Builder

Building projects are costly and the impact of not following best practices in building protocol can be significant. Before agreeing to work with a builder, always check their licence is valid and that they're insured. Failure to do either could lead to severe delays taking you way over budget.   

Questions to ask your builder
 

Choosing a builder is one of the most important decisions you'll make for your home building project. If you make the wrong decision, you could end up with a stressful journey encountering more problems and inconvenience than is necessary.

Before making a decision, here are some recommended questions to ask your builder:

Are you licensed and insured?
 

Licensing requirements differ between each state and territory, but it's vital your builder holds the correct certification to trade in your area. Failure to do so could invalidate insurance, and leave you cleaning up a trail of problems.

What is your previous experience?
 

Whether you're building a new home or engaging with a general builder to modify an existing property or garden, a builder will have a portfolio of their previous experience. This will give you a good idea of whether your builder is suitable to carry out your new build or general building work.

Building requires an impressive blend of technical skills and creative flair, and it's vital you see evidence that your builder has both.  

What else are you working on?
 

Builders will often have more than one job on the go at any time. This will allow them to keep working if there are any hold ups with one job. It's a good idea to understand any other work that your builder is currently involved in so that you can assess where their priorities lie.

While it's normal for a builder to work on more than one job at a time, you also want to make sure your building job gets the attention it deserves and isn't going to be fitted in around everything else.

What hours do you work?
 

Building work is noisy, messy and is likely to cause disruption. But, don't let that put you off! With some careful planning, you can arrange to be out of the house during building work hours. Perhaps you can change your hours at work, or maybe this is time for the holiday you've been looking at booking but haven't yet got around to.

What's your payment schedule?
 

Building jobs are often costly with the builder having a large outlay for materials before they can get started. Your builder will charge a deposit (30%), may ask for a progress payment (40%) at an approved milestone, and require the balance (30%) on completion. Find out the payment schedule so you can plan your budget well in advance.

Choosing a builder is a significant decision that you need to put time and effort into making to avoid disruption and costly mistakes.  At Service.com.au, we'll help you conduct thorough research and match your precise needs with a qualified builder in your area.

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