How to work best with your builder

Once you have chosen your builder, and checked they are a Registered Master Builder, it’s important to set clear expectations around things like communication, deadlines and roles and responsibilities before you start.

Communicating with your builder

Establish what is the best way of communicating with your builder, what you expect to see and hear from them and how often you expect to hear from them.

Make sure you understand what they are telling you. They might use technical terms you don’t understand, so ask lots of questions and get them to clarify anything you are unsure of or don't understand.

Budgeting and paying your builder

Make sure you understand the quote you have been provided and have room for contingency. It is not uncommon for costs to go up once work begins, but if they do, make sure you understand what the extra costs are for. 

Like most industries, deposits are required before work can get underway. The deposit allows the builder to undertake preliminary work, such as developing plans, consents, site set up, or purchasing materials to get the project underway. Typically, the deposit should be no more than 10% of the build cost for the residential sector. We recommend you discuss a deposit which is more than 10% of the build before you sign the contract to understand why this is needed.

You should also avoid advance payments, unless for a specific reason, which you have discussed with your builder. Agree in advance a comprehensive payment schedule, which allows you to keep track of all monies paid and ensures you only pay for work that has been completed. It is important to have the agreed payment schedule in writing, and you know what to expect. This way everyone is on the same page. 

Managing the project

Managing the project yourself? Be aware of your responsibilities. Even if you’re not the project manager, you still have overall responsibility for making sure everything in the building consent happens.

Confirm who the project manager is in your design and building contracts (it could be your architect, designer, builder or a professional project manager). Make sure you formalise all roles in legal contracts, spelling out what you mean so that all parties have a clear understanding.

Each builder will be different and have different ways of working. The relationship with your builder, or building company, takes honesty and an upfront approach from both you and the builder.

Homeowner guides

Our guides for homeowners aim to help you get the best from your build.

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