Three things to look for when choosing a home builder


When in search of a builder, you will come across:

– the volume builders,
– the custom builders, and
– quite a few clueless builders.

When you talk to people who have successfully built before, they speak of that good feeling when they have finally decided on their builder.

And while the feeling is all nice and good, you cannot skip due diligence (were we to check with those who struggled with their build, they too felt good at one point, when they had decided on their builder).

While there are dozens of things you need to look for when deciding who will build your home, we would like to point out three:

1. Care

Trust us. We care! – said every building consultant until they signed the contract.

It’s due to lack of care that a volume builder delivers a simple single-storey house that they have built dozens of times before with a virtually infinite list of defects and thousands of dollars in unexpected variation bills.

The problem with care is that you cannot teach it, and it is not based on experience.

Instead, it comes from a deep understanding that the builder’s work has a massive effect on the financial and emotional wellbeing of the homeowner.

A builder is not much different from an accountant in that they too have a fiduciary duty to their client. They must care to deliver what they know to be the best for the homeowner and charge a fair price for it.

As such, there is no room for an us vs them mentality. No builder should try and squeeze every cent from the homeowner, nor should the client attempt to push the builder to discount prices or giving things for free.

2. Knowledge

It’s terrifying how many builders out there have no idea what they are doing.

While some have field experience, having previously worked as carpenters, painters, etc., others drove trucks and mixed cocktails before getting their builder’s license.

The barriers to entering the building industry are a joke. A Cert IV with some online assignments is all one needs to get a builder’s license and start going around beating quotes in the hopes of getting some quick work.

These are the cowboys of the industry who, sooner or later go bust and cause massive troubles for their clients.

On the other hand, the builder that has been around for a couple of years will probably have enough knowledge and experience to deliver on their promise.

However, when it comes to building your house, specialised knowledge will serve you better.

Rather than a builder who claims to do everything (we were once that builder), you would benefit more from a building company that specialises in similar projects to yours.

3. Systems

Pen, paper and trying to remember everything is a formula for disaster when a builder has more than one or two homes going on simultaneously.

Building a home is so much more than putting building materials together.

From that first client meeting to months after handover, the project’s success is based on clarity of communication and the ability to store, organise, and refer to project information while ensuring the build is tracking on budget at every stage.

It’s only through well designed and tested systems and processes that a construction company can minimise mistakes and deliver quality homes on time.

The good news is that technology and specialised software make it possible for builders, regardless of their size, to implement systems that support their work affordably.

At HBC Homes, the key software we use to support our systems is:

– CostX for quantity takeoff and estimation (no per sqm quoting, ever!);
– BuilderTrend for project management and cost tracking;
– Xero for financial accounting;
– Google Workspace for emails and online file storage (Google Drive); and
– Foxit PDF Editor Pro for marking important information on plans and reports.

As we said initially, there are a dozen things you need to look for in a builder before engaging their services. And yes, you should also look for that good feeling when dealing with them.

But find out how they care for their clients, if they possess the knowledge to deliver on their promise and whether they rely on systems to support their processes, and you will be all right.