Expert Advice: How to choose the right builder for your new build, with Tass Construction Group
Rome wasn’t built in a day…and neither are our homes. Choosing the right home builder is a serious, long-term decision; so how exactly do you find the right one for your project? To help shed light on this crucial process, we pick the brains of Ben & Aaron Tass, of Tass Construction Group, on how to choose the right builder for your new build project.
Q. So, how might a client start looking around for the right builder for their new build?
The traditional method of simply asking around is still one of the best methods. Family and friends who have built before is a good start as they will give you honest opinions, insights and reviews on their builder, which is invaluable.
In this digital age, all builders are online and held accountable for their work; as a result, they will have online reviews and testimonials, which is another great way to qualify.
Q. What sort of things should people be comparing when choosing the right builder?
Engaging a builder is not like purchasing a t-shirt; it is a long-term relationship and one of the biggest monetary investments you will make. Are they experienced in the type of project you are
undertaking? Are they up to date on the latest products and innovative construction methodologies?
Emotions are high and you need to feel comfortable and be able to mesh with your builder; the delivery of your product is a two-way street that requires teamwork.
Q. What are some good questions to ask during initial interviews with builders?
- Rough estimation on time to complete the works, and are there any guarantees on this?
- Will the price be all inclusive, and can the builder foresee any potential variations?
- Will they be provided with a dedicated foreman and supervisor?
- How many other jobs will they be building at the same time, and do they have the capacity to ensure the works continue non-stop?
Q. What are some ‘golden nuggets’ to search for?
- Builders who understand that the physical building of your home is only 50% of the service, and who value the other 50% ‘behind the scenes’ aspects.
- Builders who ensure QA onsite & offsite and have systems in place – that include the home-owner – to ensure they are provided with detail, transparency and contactability.
- If the builder has an online portal to view daily progress reports, live schedule and budget summary, then that’s even better.
Q. And how about some ‘red flags’ to look out for?
- If its sounds too good to be true, it will be. The number one red flag is easy. With such a large investment in your asset, cheap is not where you want to be focusing! Steer clear of any cheap quotes or under-quoted provisional allowances, because it will only cause headaches down the track.
- No reviews & testimonials. If there are no online reviews, testimonials or a number of references to contact, there’s usually a reason.
- Lack of provided documentation. The tender proposal should be thick, at least 20 odd pages and should clearly outline what is included and what isn’t.
- No preferred team of subcontractors. Lastly, if the builder isn’t using the same preferred team of subcontractors and is planning on tendering out the contract works to the cheapest bidder, this can result in schedule delays and poor workmanship. Subcontractors can make up to 50%+ of the contract value, so should be considered as part of the building team.
Q. Once you choose the right builder, what are the common stages of the building process?
- The first step is to finalise your scope and costings, if this hasn’t already been undertaken.
- A contract will then be drawn up by the builder, which is usually a standard document from a building association, such as HIA or MBA.
- The builder will then require a deposit in order to secure a commencement date, at which point alternate living arrangements and packing up of belongings can be scheduled.
- The builder will continue to work with the client to finalise and firm up any outstanding items, such as selections for tap-ware, tiles, etc.
- Some builders have a pre-commencement meeting with the clients, to run through what to expect during the build, meet the team assigned to your project and answer any of your queries.
- The process after this is different for each builder; usually, it involves periodic meetings, as well as correspondence throughout the build.
Q. What should the builder/client relationship be like, in terms of communication?
Every builder will have a different answer. We like to have regular, well-documented and transparent communication, which results in an open and relaxed style, because both parties are comfortable and clear across the board.
Q. What should you expect from your builder in terms of:
With regards to decision-making, this depends on what the decisions are and whether the client wants guidance & suggestions. If you are referring to decisions on selections and the clients is seeking opinions and options, this can and should be provided. Alternatively, if the client wishes to make their own selections, this is fine, provided they are in accordance with relevant building codes and standards.
We tend to always provide our thoughts regardless, without any pressure; in which case the client can either adopt or not. It is important, however, that clients adhere to the selection deadlines provided by their builder, as this can cause delays.
Budget tracking & variations?:
Builders should provide continual budget tracking and variation updates, including quotes for additional works as requested by the client throughout the build. Builders should also educate their clients on the process of variations and explain the reasons why these are charged with a margin on the costs.
Once the client understands, there is no reason these can’t be transparent.
A builder confident in their scheduling will provide you access to their live schedule and provide you with a guaranteed completion date.
Q. Is there anything a builder appreciates from their clients to ensure a smooth process?
- Mutual respect and a teamwork approach to the build
- Prompt communication response times
- Timely selections and decision-making
Q. What are some common client mistakes that might negatively affect the process or relationship?
If all due diligence on a client’s behalf has been done to engage a builder that aligns with all of the above-mentioned, then trust & mutual respect is crucial for a positive relationship.
Building is a two-way street and a win/win arrangement for both parties involved; trying to tip the scales in this regard is the main mistake a client could make.
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Who are Tass Construction Group?
Tass Construction Group are meticulous professionals. They offer a new-age approach to building, shaped by the collaboration of Directors Aaron & Ben Tass, whose background in the construction industry cover a unique & wide spectrum.
The combination of Aaron’s technical engineering & management, with Ben’s carpentry & building experience, complement each other to provide a framework for optimising every aspect of the construction process. Combining on-site diligence & attention to detail, with an organised approach to the construction process, yields a quality result and an equation they know well.
Visit their website to explore their work and discover how they can assist you on your new home journey.