How to choose the right builder

Choosing the right builder is a bit like choosing a hairdresser or a doctor – there are both hard and soft skills needed. Here we outline what to look for…

Your home is your usually the biggest investment in your lifetime, so if you decide to build or renovate, it’s not a decision made lightly and you want to make sure you’re investing your money wisely. That’s why you shouldn’t trust just any old builder with your biggest asset.

The ramifications of using a builder who’s not cut out for the job can be costly and time-consuming (not to mention the stress). But with the right experts on your team, building or renovating is a really exciting and rewarding process.

So how do you know if your builder is right for your job? We’ve compiled five tips to help you work out what skills and attributes to look for.

They should return your phone calls quickly

A good builder is organised and values every one of their clients, even the ones they haven’t worked with yet. No matter how busy your builder is, they (or one of their team) should always return your calls in a timely manner.

After all, if your chosen builder can’t even prioritise you enough to return a simple phone call, how can you trust they’ll prioritise your build?

  1. Respects your home

This is quite straightforward, really. If they take their workboots off at the door when quoting, it’s likely they’ll be careful not to traipse building mess through your home either (there’s a lot to be said for a dropcloth in a doorway to minimise the mess!).

They should also consider things such as how empty your rooms should be before they start work. Do they ask you to take all your belongings and artwork/photos etc out of the space first? Good. They’re protecting your belongings – another sign that they know that their worksite is your home. 

  1. Trade qualified and member of building association (ensures they’re not a cowboy!)

You would never go to a doctor or a hairdresser who isn’t trade qualified, so you should treat your builder the same. A trade qualification guarantees the skills they’ve learned are industry-led and professional.

They should also be a member of a building association, as this usually means they keep up-to-date with latest building techniques and materials. Though, be careful on this one – association membership doesn’t guarantee trade qualification. Only NZ Certified Builders insists all its members are trade qualified. But we’ll keep it easy for you – you can find a local NZCB Builder here.

  1. Honest/straight up with you

 A good builder will say it how it is – they’ll tell you what’s possible and what’s not, be straight up about quotes and costs and won’t promise anything they can’t deliver. This can be a hard one to tell early on in the relationship, but if your job is going to be tricky at all, they will tell you. If they just say yes to your vision, budget and timeframe without any questions, alarms bells should ring.

Ask them to talk you through the entire process – if they’re light on detail, this could be a sign they’re brushing over important factors. They should also highlight any possible issues that may arise throughout the build, as this will impact costs and timeframes. You should be informed throughout the process and contacted as soon as any issues arise or if things don’t go to plan.

  1. Reference checked

We reference check all our NZCB builders before they’re granted membership, but you should do your own checks, too. If they say they’ve worked for any recognisable building companies, give the company a ring and ask what they were like as a staff member. It’ll take five minutes, but could save you a lot of time and money down the track.

Otherwise, you should find someone you know and trust who has had work done by your builder – this will give you a chance to inspect their workmanship and finishing before you hire them. You can also ask questions about your builder’s ability to meet timeframes and budgets. Ask around your friends and family. If none of them have used your builder, pop a post on a local noticeboard on Facebook. Or Google them. You’ll find soon enough if they’re worth their salt or if anyone has been ripped off.

  1. Still not sure who to hire?

We vouch for all our NZCB Builders and their workmanship. You can find your local NZCB Builders here.

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