How to hire a good builder

While ultimately nothing is certain, there are some things you can do when choosing a builder to increase your chances of a happy experience. Before you carry on reading you may be interested in reading ‘Why are builders so unreliable?’ and ‘Why are builders so expensive?’

When you are first looking for a builder you should make a shortlist. Do not just flick randomly through the phone book (or yellow pages) and choose a couple, try including in your list two or three larger (but local) builders just to see the quality levels and expectations they offer. These larger companies will be more expensive, but it is good to see what the well established builders do. When making your shortlist don’t make it huge because that wastes everyone’s time, just have about four or five you are serious about and contact them. Even pay them a visit and judge their performance. If they appear a bit off or not bothered, move on.

Builders can be part of trade organisations and their financial standing is available for scrutiny, so you should definitely look into this before you hire someone. In fact, you should do your research before you get a builder to do a detailed quote for you, because it is not fair and a waste of the builders time and money to do a quote if you reject them on something you should have checked out earlier. Also, when you do get a quote the more details you provide to the builder the better. You should send them approved drawings (read ‘who can design your home’) and any written specifications you have because this will improve the accuracy of the quote and reduce the chance of inaccurate expectations in the future.

The more information you can get out of your builder the better, so ask for mark up levels on materials that will be used on the job and what day-work rates are. When you get a quotation that seems very low make sure you investigate this more. If you get a few quotes most will probably be fairly similar in price, but if one is particularly low this can fire off warning signals. You should look into this more though rather than just exclude this builder because you expect them to be dodgy and do poor standard work. There could be genuine reasons for the lower quote. Maybe they are desperate for work because a recent client has bailed at the last moment, or maybe the other quotes you got were fixed in some way (read the ‘Builders union, driving up quotes’ section of the ‘Why are builders so expensive?’ article). The cheaper builder may not be in on this price fixing and thus their price is actually more reasonable.

Speak to the builders and see how busy they are, you want someone who is not busy, read ‘Why are builders so unreliable?’. See who exactly will be in charge of your build, when will the build start, how long will it take. Can the head contractor be contactable on a mobile number and out of office times, and even see if they are working on a current job that you could pop along too and have a look and also speak to their current clients to see how satisfied they are. It is a lot of money and responsibility you are handing out to a builder, so make sure you know what you are getting.


Following the advice above will help you hone in on a builder that is likely to be more reliable that others. If all things are equal when you get several quotes you should go with your gut feeling. Who do you get on best with, who communicates best when you ask questions. Also, something else to keep in mind is that there are some really good and recommended smaller builders out there who don’t go about advertising themselves or even offering detailed quotes. These builders don’t overwork themselves and when they do a job they do it well and in a friendly manner.

The problem is that they are probably going to be a little more expensive and you will have to book them months in advance. But they will most likely give you a perfectly finished job and do it on-time and to budget. Ask your architect or designer if they can recommend such a builder, but as mentioned be prepared to wait a little longer to start your project because they will be booked solid and do not stretch themselves thin over many jobs at once.

*Great new content is being add to this website all of the time. Click here to get email updates as soon as there is something new on the website.