Before you sign a contract or pay a deposit, ask your builder the following questions. It could potentially save you thousands and avoid costly legal bills.
1. Do not sign anything with your builder until you have read all the fine print. If there is anything that you do not understand, ask for advice from an independent builder, consultant, or obtain legal advice. Remember once you have signed a building contract you cannot normally back out if you change your mind. There is no ‘cooling off’ period.
2. Ensure that everything important is confirmed in writing and keep a copy.
With most reputable builders, once your plans and detailed specifications are finalised,a contract is prepared which sets out both parties responsibilities, and importantly, a progress payment schedule to follow.
1. How much is the deposit and how much will be kept should we not proceed?
2. At what point will we have the final price?
3. Can you give us a price before we pay a deposit?
4. If we pay for things like soil test and property information, do we get these reports to own should we not proceed?
Finding the right block of land for your new home is an important decision. There are a number of considerations to factor in when choosing the size and location of your land to ensure you can build your dream home.
5. If we agree to pay for this preliminary information like soil test, property report and levels will you advise us if our block requires, and the likely costs of:
5.1 Normal slab allowance as per standard inclusions or a specific engineer designed foundation, with special reinforcing or treatment (because it’s in reactive soil or close to the coast)?
5.2 Protection against Termites?
5.3 The storm or septic water disposal system to be engineer-designed?
5.4 Are retaining walls likely to be required?
5.5 A lot of soil/fill to either be taken away from the site or brought onto the site?
5.6 Services to be extended to get to distant connections?
6. How many plans do you have in your range?
7. Will you allow me to modify your standard plans at a reasonable cost for the work done?
8. Can I bring in my own plans for you to price?
9. Will you inspect our block before we buy it to ensure it’s suitable for the kind of house we want to build?
10. What is included in your floor area total? (The square meter area of a home can be measured in different ways. Some builders could include decks, eaves, patios or paved areas.)
11. Will you provide a comprehensive design consultation service? What will this include?
12. Will you provide modern visual design aids and access to professional designers to help me achieve the ideal plan that I want?
13. Will you help me to find out if there are specific requirements or restrictions regarding our home’s location on our block, and are there any protective covenants?
14. Will you give me a simple concept plan with my quote before I pay my deposit?
15. What star rating will my home be aiming to achieve?
16. Where will the midday winter sun enter the house?
17. How much summer afternoon sun is going to come enter the house?
18. Where will the view (if any) be visible from inside?
19. Are there long runs for the hot water and if so how will wastage/lag time be reduced?
20. Is your quote comprehensive in its inclusions and easy to understand?
21. Can you explain what is not included?
22. What soil classification is allowed-for in your standard inclusions for foundation and slab design? (Some builders often treat even simple excavations and earthworks as extras)
23. Will my colour selections be carried out locally?
24. What heating and cooling is included?
25. What floor coverings are included? Builder checklist questions
26. Do you have a soil test allowance in your standard inclusions?
27. Does the contract or quote include any provisional sums? (Do you know what they are for?)
(These costs could potentially be a guesstimate that are not fixed and will change once they have the final price from their supplier)
28. Have you included full drainage and other service costs or have you listed them as a provisional sum? (This could potentially be listed as a provisional sum which could rise considerably)
29. What health and safety processes do you have in place?
30. What contract do you use?
31. Can you show me through any homes that are currently being constructed, or any completed homes? (Here you can check the quality of workmanship of existing customer homes)
32. Are you trade certified and affiliated to a recognised industry body such as HIA/MBA?
33. Can you provide me written testimonials from past clients?
34. Will you pay me money if you are over contract time (liquidation damages) and is it a fixed build time?
35. What things give rights to extend this time with no liquidating damages payable?
36. Do you have a dedicated construction coordinator who will personally manage all sub-trades on my site, keep me informed of progress and answer my questions?
37. Is there any backing behind you of a large national/international network?
38. Can I speak directly to the registered builder who’s ultimately responsible for my home construction?
39. How can I be sure your company is financially stable?
40. Who does the builder acquire home owner warranty insurance from?
Does this insurer cover:
Loss of deposit? Non completion? Defects?
41. Does the builder have min $10 Million Dollars public liability insurance, and construction insurance adequate for your home?
42. What is the maintenance period?
You may not fully understand some of these questions however ask them so you can compare responses.
43. Is the supply of concrete pumping included?
44. What wall and ceiling insulation is included?
45. Is a 3 Coat paint system included? Using who’s paint?
46. Sarking to roofing included?
47. Colorbond down pipes included?
48. Are eaves standard on our chosen design?
49. Type of toilets and china basins included?
50. Obscure/safety glass to ensuite and bathroom included?
51. Are there plan specific overhead cupboards to kitchen included?
52. Are gas (electric in some areas) boosted solar HWS with two solar panels included?
53. Is the rangehood ducted to natural air, not recirculated?
54. Is termite treatment included and what system is used? Maintenance required?
55. Is trenching and conduit for service connections included?
56. Is ceiling plaster fixed onto metal battens reducing the risk of warping and cracking?
57. Are there steel lintels with bricks over garage and windows included (No high maintenance timber in-fills)?
58. What stages will you be able to inspect the works?
When asking these questions, watch the body language, listen to how hard they have to try to answer or avoid answering the questions. Look through their supporting material.