People either ardently love or completely despise their builders. So how can you find one that will get through the arduous process of building or renovating without inspiring homicidal thoughts?

Decide what type of builder you need. There are three broad categories of building professionals: large firms with a net-work of subcontractors who can manage the entire process for you; custom builders who have set plans that you can choose from and then customize; one or two-person operators that offer increased flexibility and allow you to be more involved in the building process.

If possible, use a credible builder. There are two industry associations, the Registered Master Builders Federation (RMFB) and Certified Builders Association of New Zealand (CBANZ). RMFB members are accredited after builders have proved that they run a successful business and met quality standards. Members of the RMFB also adhered to a code of conduct and offer a conditional seven-year guarantee for residential clients building new homes or doing renovations. The guarantee provides protection (up to $100,000 maximum) against loss of deposit, non-completion, defective workmanship and materials, and structural defects. CBANZ members offer a five-year guarantee which is underwritten by a third party. The cost of both of these guarantees is either built into the fee structure or purchased by the client as a separate component.

Get on internet or the phone to do your initial research. Get your self informed before you start lining up builders. Call 0800 269 1119 to search for RMFB members, and or 0800 CERTIFIED (0800 237 843) to look for CBANZ members. At present there is no nation- all licensing system, so there’s no formal endorsement of builders. However, the Building Act 2004 is implementing a licensing system that will be voluntary until November 2009, after which time all building professional must be licensed. There will be three types of building projects which require licensed building practitioners:

  1. 1.       Construction of new buildings for occupation as work places or place of residence
  2. 2.       Project to change the use of a building (e.g. form an office to an apartment)
  3. 3.       Major alterations or extensions to an existing occupied building (for example, adding a bedroom or extra floors)

Word of mouth is a good guide. As your architect and speak to any friends who have recently completed building projects. Architect may have recommendations of builders they’ve worked with over the years who will be appropriate for the job-and you will also know some to steer clear of it. Likewise, if you have friends who have worked with an excellent builder in the past and you trust their opinion, call their builder and ask when he or she might be free to quote for your project.

Don’t be afraid to check references. You’ll need to choose someone familiar with building the style of home you’ve chosen. It’s no good hiring a builder who builds spectacular fences of you need a full interior renovation. The only way you can find out whether builders have a good track record is by asking to see recommendations, and asking to speak to previous clients. It may seem impolite not to take a builder at face value, but it’s far more important to be confident in your chosen professional. Speaking to a few previous clients is one of the best ways to evaluate a builder’s work.

Ask your builder whether they are trade qualified. This means they will have done an apprenticeship to become a builder. It may seem obvious, but some builders are self taught. If you have an extremely good recommendation of a self-taught builder from a trusted friend, this is probably not an issue. However, if the builder comes un-recommended, it is outside a trade association and is not trade quality, be wary.

Look for more than just a builder. When you hire a builder you’re hiring more than a person. They need to have links with plumbers, painters, electricians and other professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask whether the builder has all of those connections in place. Building a house is extremely complicated, and it’s worth hiring a team that works together well rather than alone operator who will tender out those services. If possible look examples of the work of that team, and not just the lone builder.

Think about your own time commitments. Project management can take a great deal of time and effort, so it may be worthwhile to hire a builder who can do it for you.

Danger signs of bad builder:

  • ·         They are reluctant to give you recommendations or contact details of previous clients.
  • ·         If you ask to see their standard contract, they don’t have one or evade the question.
  • ·         They are unwilling to put anything in writing.
  • ·         They are unprofessional in their communications and dealings with you (if they’re highly recommended by a friend you trust, you may be willing to overlook this)
  • ·         They demand all the money for the job up front. You should never pay a builder 100 percent of his or her fee to begin with. The RMFB recommends that the amount you have paid conforms as closely as possible to the value of the work completed on site. If you have 25 percent of the work on site completed, you should have paid you builder about 25 percent of his or her total fee.
  • ·         They offer no warranty or guarantee.

What is required when you sign a contract for a building work?