How to Select a Quality Builder for Your HomeBuilder Project

How to Select a Quality Builder for Your HomeBuilder Project
How to Select a Quality Builder for Your HomeBuilder Project

With the HomeBuilder grant offering eligible Australians $25,000 towards building or renovating their home, many Australians will be engaging with builders - some for the very first time. 

To ensure your project goes as planned, it is critical you work with a trustworthy and reputable builder. However, many Australians struggle to know how to separate the good from the bad. 

A history of unscrupulous behaviour 

We’ve all heard of someone who has had a bad experience with a builder or perhaps even had a bad experience with a builder ourselves. The prevalence of dodgy projects and dodgy behaviour by builders is obvious when you examine the statistics. Over the last ten years, new homeowners across the nation have encountered a $10.5 billion bill to fix defects such as leaks, cracks, issues with plumbing, guttering problems and more.

Another serious issue in the building sector is "phoenixing" where a new company is created to continue the operations of a former company which was liquidated to avoid paying debts. In 2017-2018 in NSW, 561 construction businesses were found to have been involved in phoenixing behaviour. Unfortunately, not all phoenixing activity is illegal and until this is stamped out it will continue to leave consumers vulnerable. 

Why the HomeBuilder scheme could make dodgy behaviour worse

The danger is that schemes like HomeBuilder which promise quick cash may incentivise those builders with a history of wrongdoing to continue to perpetuate the same behaviour. Although builders on HomeBuilder projects are required to be licensed or registered prior to the announcement of the scheme this will not fully protect new homeowners against dishonest behaviour

Another major issue is the length of the scheme. Between the 4th of June and 31st of December 2020, the scheme covers any building contracts entered during that time frame, with construction required to begin within 3 months of the initial contract date. The issue with this is that builders will be incentivised to enter into as many contracts as possible, with chances of taking on an unachievable workload and cutting corners to finish projects. Unfortunately, there are many builders with a great reputation and who consistently deliver high quality builds who will end up being crowded out by those unscrupulous builders. 

How to select a reputable and quality builder 

The good news is that there are countless builders doing the right thing, delivering high-quality projects to budget and to time. Instead of feeling the need and pressure to choose a builder quickly to meet the limited timeframes of the HomeBuilder initiative, consumers should attempt to take the time to do their due diligence to secure a great and trustworthy builder. 

Here are some ways to vet potential builders for your project: 

  1. Check the builder is licensed

First things first, you should always check that the builder is licensed. In NSW, this is a simple search on the Service NSW website. This will weed out any unscrupulous and unlicensed operators. 

Licensed builders are also covered by insurance. In NSW, licensed builders are required to have home building compensation cover for each project over $20,000. This is to protect consumers in the case that the builder can’t finish building work or to fix defects that may arise.

  1. Seek out testimonials

Ask the builder for testimonials from former clients. If possible, see if you can speak with former clients to get a true picture of what the experience with the builder was like. 

  1. Review past projects

Have a look at other projects they have completed. Are they high quality? Have there been any defect issues? 

  1. Check credit reports and ASIC listings

By checking credit reports and ASIC listings, you will be alerted to any debt issues and will uncover any phoenixing behaviour. 

  1. Work with a building broker

A building broker will undergo a more extensive due diligence process to help you select the right builder. They will have a panel of vetted and accredited builders to choose from and can match you with the right builder for your project. They can also help you avoid any hidden fees or costs and ensure the contract is sound. The service is free for the consumer. 

The last thing consumers need is selecting the wrong builder and seeing money and time go down the drain. This can potentially cancel out the financial value of the HomeBuilder grant completely. By doing your due diligence you can make sure you have a trustworthy and quality builder working on your HomeBuilder project and achieve a much better outcome for your building project.

Lynette Manciameli

Lynette Manciameli

Lynette is the Co-Founder and Director of Builder Finders. Builder Finders sources Australia’s most reputable, trustworthy and vetted builders for customers’ building projects. The company is driven by a passionate desire to match the right builder with the customer’s unique building needs, while saving the customer an enormous amount of time and money.

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