How to choose a home builder

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of building companies in New Zealand. Choosing the right one can be overwhelming – where do you even start? We’re making it that much easier with this 4 step breakdown that’ll take you from starting your search right through to signing the contract.

1) Starting the Search

There are lots of builders out there, but you need the one that’s right for you.

  • Ask for recommendations. If you’ve got a trusted family member or friend that has been through the building process, ask them about their experiences with their company. All the marketing material in the world can’t quite capture that real, lived experience.
  • Check community groups. Chances are, you’ll have a local community group on Facebook or Neighbourly, or possibly even a dedicated renovations/investment/construction group. These are great places to look for building company recommendations.
  • Check news articles, media releases and trade magazines. You have to watch out for companies selling the sizzle rather than the sausage, but companies that have won awards, are in the news for tangible projects, or are demonstrating their expertise through trade magazines, could be a great choice for your build.

These three methods help you create a list of builders who provide good experiences and have real expertise – in other words, they know what they’re doing!

You’ll probably have a few options at this point – maybe even a dozen – so you’ll need to narrow it down even more.

2) How Expert Are They?

Once you have a list of a few potential builders, delve deeper into who they are and what their experience is. Ask these questions:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Are they more suited to building new homes, or doing renovations?
  • Are they of an appropriate size for your project?
  • Are they active in your local area?
  • Have they built or renovated homes like yours before?

Most of these questions can be answered on the builder’s website, social media or marketing materials. You can always ask them directly as well!

One of the best things to do is keep an eye out for testimonials and/or case studies. If they have show homes, even better—and if you can take a look at the homes of the people in the case studies? That’s best of all. These offer examples of the builder’s best work and can provide an idea of the experience they provide—and the experience they have.

You should also look for membership in industry organisations. This includes:

  • New Zealand Master Builders
  • The Building Industry Federation
  • The Certified Building Association of New Zealand
  • The NZ Institute of Building

If a builder is a member of these organisations, they often have to adhere to strict rules around the quality of their work and the experience they provide to their clients. Golstruct Homes, for example, are Registered Master Builders. That means we provide 10 years of guarantee for issues found in a newly constructed home rather than the 1 year required by law.

3) Approaching your Builder

Once you’ve confirmed that they have the service, the skills, and the fit, it’s time to figure out the cost. Approach each of your builders with a thorough idea of what you’re looking for in your project. The ‘thorough’ part is important, as inaccurate price indications won’t help your search!

Try to stick to about four or five maximum. Once you get the price indications back, break them down by service type so you can compare like for like.

You’ll find that many builders have very different price indications for each service. Ask them why they are especially higher or lower than the other builders you’ve approached. If they can’t give you a good answer, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere!

The same goes for guarantees and contracts. You are protected by law on many faults found in your home, but some builders will be able to offer much more than the legally required minimum. Ideally, you’ll get a legal professional to look through the contracts with you and point out any missing pieces. Again, ask your builder about these and why they are there.

4) Finalising the Fit

One of the biggest things that a lot of people forget about is the ‘fit’ for you and the builder. Most of this comes down to open and honest communication. If the builder seems to be playing their cards close to their chest, it may be better to go with another option, even if it’s more expensive. The peace of mind is worth it.

This goes for project managers too. How often will you be updated? What happens if something goes wrong? Who can you talk to if you’re unhappy about something? These are important questions to ask before signing on the dotted line.

At this point, you’ll know that your builder is expert, experienced, good value, and a good fit for your personality. All the boxes you need are ticked! Now all you need to do is sign on the dotted line and get the party started.

At Golstruct, we pride ourselves on having the qualities our customers need to be confident that their home is comfortable and durable – not to mention beautiful – and to never need to stress during the process. Find out more about how we can help you.