Building a home is not for the faint at heart.

There are lot of difficult decisions to be made, and the stress can be unbearable. However, an experienced custom home builder with excellent customer service will ease your worries and turn a stressful situation into an exciting experience.

Customer service from your home builder can go a long way. You’re not just building a home together but you’re also building a relationship. It doesn’t stop once your new home is complete, either. Excellent customer service extends well past the building process and creates lifelong relationships between you and the builders.

Great custom home builders do much more than just build—they create experiences. Here’s just a few of the ways that choosing a quality custom builder with excellent customer service skills, like Norm Wales Constructions, can be beneficial.

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Reduced Anxiety

Face it: decision making causes anxiety. When uncertainty thrives, and major decisions are plentiful, stress skyrockets. Anxious homebuyers can turn angry, confrontational, combative, or just overwhelmed. That’s where customer service comes in.  A professional builder knows how to combat these anxious feelings and make buyers feel calm and collected throughout the build, so they can make informed decisions.

Trust

A builder with excellent customer service skills does everything they can to build trust and keep buyers happy. It’s more than just a skill set, it’s a character trait. A trusting relationship is built by smoothly solving problems and delays that may occur and speaking to customers on a level playing field. A builder should put you at ease throughout the process, and that can only be accomplished with a sense of trust.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

Satisfaction

The best thing about quality customer service from home builders is knowing they care about you. They treat each new home as if it was their own, so overall satisfaction is guaranteed. After the build, the customer service continues. From warranty work to handyman repairs, a quality builder will commit to the relationship and home you built together. Norm Wales Constructions prides themselves on being “your builder for life,” and our professional team will work with you far beyond move in day to keep you  satisfied.

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Homes built on modern concepts lean heavily on the open floor plans, and box-like rooms are now a thing of the past.

“Open floor” is a common term used by builders and designers when they are planning home designs; the idea is to build as few walls as possible and make the spaces look more open and larger.

While the rooms will have all the basic functional areas such as living room, kitchen, dining room etc. they won’t necessarily have full-height walls and doors separating these spaces. Not only do these plans lend your home a unique look but they also improve the energy-efficiency of your home; take a look at how:

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

  1. Increases natural light throughout out your home

Since there are no internal walls in an open floor plan, it allows natural light streaming from the windows to spread throughout the internal areas and this helps reduce electricity usage during the day; the natural light is sufficient for lighting up spaces during the daytime, which helps reduce electricity bills.

  1. Maximise air circulation

Open floor plans are also sometimes referred to as “green plans”. They help improve air circulation within the home and reduce the need to use coolers, fans, and air conditioning systems; this, in turn, helps improve the energy-efficiency of your property as well.

  1. Easier to clean

Enclosed spaces tend to gather more dust and increase the humidity levels which encourage the growth of mold and mildew. You need more electricity and time to keep all the indoor spaces clean. These problems don’t arise when there are fewer enclosed areas, and you are able to maintain your home with less effort and electricity use. Since all the features flow into one another, there is less space for the dust and other pollutants to settle. You will find that it is far easier to keep your home clean and you won’t be vacuuming the spaces as often as you would.

  1. The spaciousness aspect

Open floor plans make your home feel much larger than it is and each room can have multiple uses. When you eliminate doorways and widen the passages to the living and dining areas, it lends a sense of spaciousness to the space that divided rooms don’t have. If you are getting a new home built, you should consider open floor plans and designs. But it’s also important that you seek the services of expert builders who would be able to help you with these objectives without compromising on the functionality and comfort aspects. An energy efficient home plan should be able to effectively balance the benefits of natural light, ventilation, and spaciousness. We work very closely with our clients to ensure that they all their ideas and preferences are included in the design and plans of their new home.

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Have you made a phone call to a builder, left a message or sent an email and are still waiting for a return call???

There is nothing more frustrating than people not returning your call or messages. Whether you get a call back from a home builder says a lot about how they run their business and how you will be treated. Your time is valuable, and you would be more likely to have a smooth home building experience with someone who responds promptly to your enquiry.

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Anyone who communicates promptly is one who efficiently returns phone call, messages and emails and this is the least that you would expect from a builder. Unfortunately, some builders have given the industry a poor reputation purely because of their poor communication skills. Calling someone back is not hard to do and by the way it is just good manners!

You would assume if the builder that you are still waiting for a return call from shows poor communication skills with potential clients, then they are probably not good at communicating with their contractors and staff on the building site. This can result in a disorganised job site and make the experience of building a new home not so enjoyable for you. Poor communication can lead to delays, mistakes and turn what is meant to be a stress-free and enjoyable experience into an absolute nightmare.

One of the biggest reasons why builders do not get back to you is that they are operating blind, with no systems or organisational structures in place. Builders who take the time to run a tight business with organisational systems in place are much more likely to do a good job building your home. Gone are the days of being able to run a well organised building company with a diary alone. It’s not that hard to make a note to call someone back or to structure part of the working week to devote to writing quotes and discussing upcoming jobs with potential new clients. These are signs of an organised builder and one that you should look for to build your new home.

So how can you ensure that your building experience is not going to be a nightmare? Best to look for a builder who has proven communication systems in place. Systems that allow the client to keep well informed at all times. A system that allows you to keep track of every discussion, selection, variation and cost.

So, what might happen if you choose a builder who is a poor communicator? There are number of things that may arise if you choose a builder who does not communicate effectively. 

An unenjoyable building experience

Building a home is one of the biggest investments that you will make, both financially and emotionally. You deserve to be kept informed right throughout the building process. When you are kept informed of what is happening, then you feel more comfortable and are able to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience. Choose a builder who is a poor communicator then expect to be kept in the dark with what is happening on your home and be prepared to not hear from your builder for extended periods of time.

Unsatisfactory outcome

During the building process a builder will aware that there may be changes made by the client along the way. These variation requests and changes need to be communicated to the relevant tradespeople to ensure they are completed as you the client envisaged. A builder who communicates effectively will have systems in place to ensure that these changes are recorded, approved and communicated effectively to ensure that misunderstandings are not made. Communication systems ensure that conversations are tracked and recorded to ensure nothing is ever missed and that your home is completed on time.

Blowing your budget

Effective systems of communication enable you to keep track of your budget throughout the entire build. You do not want a surprise on the final invoice, something that disorganised builders are renowned for. By engaging a builder who uses project management systems you are able to view all costs along the way, minimising any surprises or budget blowouts!

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You could end up with this unfinished home. That is why you can never trust a builder that does not call back!

house under construction

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Whether you are currently renovating your existing home or building your new home from scratch, your relationship with your builder is essential.

Throughout these processes, it can be a stressful time but luckily you have the professional knowledge and experience to call on with a builder but sadly not everyone utilizes this relationship.

Why is it so important?

Ultimately, the builder or site manager is the person that you will talk to every single day. Since they are in charge of the day-to-day activities, they will be the ones answering your questions when you are unsure of a topic or adhering to any requests you might have. Although you will talk to other people from the building company throughout the process – for example, you might talk to a manager when first approaching the company or even a receptionist – you can’t call these people with questions. Instead, it will be the builder on site who is looking after your home.

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There needs to be clear lines of communication between the two of you and it works both ways. As well as you asking them questions, they might need to contact you at some point and this open atmosphere will allow that to take place.

build relationships

When you have a good relationship with your builder, you won’t feel bad about interrupting them to ask questions and this gives you peace of mind. Instead of letting the building team do their own thing, you might have requests and suddenly it becomes a joint project. When this occurs, you can have some input into the building work because they will want to make you happy.

When the relationship between the builder and yourself is poor, immediately, you both start to pull in different directions.

When it comes to interior design and the finer details, you can’t discuss your wishes in depth and you don’t get the best possible result. Ultimately, this is a huge shame although it happens rarely but if it does occur, the solution is simple, and we have a handful of tips for you in just a moment.

As you can see, the relationship between yourself and the builder is vital. If you have a good relationship, they will be happy to help whenever it is required, and this means that all requests you have will be taken care of sooner rather than later and the experience will be great.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

Tips – We have a couple of tips before we go, and it starts with clear communication. From the very top, you should be clear with what you need, and they will do the same in return. If you aren’t clear and the builders are forced to go back on their work, this will have things off to an awful start. Most important, you should never just assume when asking a question, it is so easy to do.

Finally, we believe that every builder should have their own input because they won’t enjoy being so shackled that they can’t express their creativity. When working with them, ask for their opinions because they will have seen projects just like yours before. As long as you can do this, you will see great results in return!

The Answers To All Your Questions

Building a home can be a very demanding exercise; not least because you don’t want to burden yourself with an excessively high mortgage you can’t afford. The first step is to be honest about your budget. Many people feel they need to keep their cards close to their chest to ensure they get the best deal from their builder, but in reality it works best for both parties if you’re open and honest about the budget from the start.

Below are a few ideas in certain areas that might assist you in avoiding a budget blow out.

Budget and Finance: Before you go any further, it’s important to establish your budget. Speaking to a Mortgage Broker regarding the right type of loan to suit your needs and obtaining a pre-approval at this stage.

Research:  Building a home on a tight budget is achievable.

The cost will vary depending on things like

  • The type and quality of material
  • The Tradespeople you use
  • The quality of finishes and fittings
  • The size of the job
  • The site location

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

Design: One big drawback to working with an architect is cost. Working with a homebuilder, exclusively, during your planning stages will likely save you money on drafting, plans, and any necessary revisions.

Get an electrical plan done at quoting stage, as it is a common area for budget blow out, so plan for this early on in the process.

Floor Plans: Considering the size, shape, easements and setbacks of a block, a builder can offer their knowledge as to what type of floor plan would, be suitable on the block. It is also important to make sure the land you purchase is compatible with your home design, with the size, the shape, orientation, slope and soil type all points you need to consider.

Finalize Building Contract: It is important you go through both your written contract and the final contract plans, to ensure you understand everything and they are exactly as you want. Also, you’ll need to check this, that all works are within your allocated budget. If there are errors or you have gone over budget, now is the time to fix things, as many builders will charge to changes made after contracts are signed.

savings

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This is one of the most annoying problems that many people deal with every day.

In this article, we are going to take you through the real reasons home builders NEVER get back to you.

You’ve got your renovations or home builder in mind, and you want to get started on your project. It’s understandable that you would be annoyed that you cannot start building your new home. Also, very confusing – why wouldn’t the builder want to get a new job? Nobody wins when there is a delay like this.

Fortunately, you can get building faster…

Let us talk you through the 3 most common reasons for builders never getting back to you. Hopefully, you’ll learn something and be able to avoid these situations in your future building project.

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The most common reason for builders not getting back to you, is because they have no systems in place to organize their work load.

This leads to builders simply forgetting about you. Some builders may be great at organising their site, but when it comes to running the business side of things, these skills may not always be on the level. Unfortunately, a lot of builders are not necessarily the best at running their businesses.

Because builders might not have the necessary systems in place, they may not be able to organise potential jobs and chase up enquiries and quotes. It’s not easy balancing a full workload on a building site – there are a lot of things to keep in mind, and call-backs often don’t get prioritised.

Builders who take the time to run a tight business with organisational systems in place are much more likely to do a good job on your home building. It’s not that hard to make a note to call someone back or to structure part of the working week to devote to writing quotes and discussing upcoming jobs with potential new clients.

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Plus, calling someone back is just good manners! Even if it’s to let you know that they are too busy when a builder gets back to you with a rejection you can keep the ball rolling on your project by  searching for a new builder.

builder onsite

The solution is to find a builder with good organisational skills. If you don’t get that quote or call back, you requested within a reasonable timeframe. Then it’s time, keep looking for someone else to do the job.

Whether you get a call back from a home builder says a lot about how your experience with them will be. Your time is valuable, and you would be more likely to have a smooth home building experience with someone who responds to your enquiry.

It’s unfortunate that some home builders will try to pull a “quote and hope” situation. These builders will send out 10 quotes at a time in a rush and don’t take the time to itemise your costs, so you know where your money will be spent.

If you get a quote with a simple figure down the bottom of the page without any information about where it will be spent, you should be wary. This builder is likely liaising with many people and may not remember the specific details of your job. Basically, they are hustling for cash.

This is a bad sign from the start. First of all, you want the estimates on your home building project to be specified piece by piece. You deserve to know what your money will be spent on and to know exactly where it will go.

You also want to know that your builder has attention to detail. A good quote shows this and shows that they have taken the time to consider exactly what you would like done.

The solution. Be clear that you need a detailed quote and a timeframe to go with it to ensure your building gets done within your budget and the timeframe you require. If the builder can’t give you this, you know it was a “quote and hope” job.

What if your individual budget and builder don’t quite match? A builder is not likely to get back to you if they don’t want to work within your budget. If you are investing your time in talking with a builder and requesting a quote, then you need to be realistic about that budget. You also need to be aware that you may not get exactly the ideas that you want, as the costs of home building can often be above what people expect.

Many times, this will occur because the designer or architect has not communicated with you and your builder. Good communication and a mutual understanding between all parties will get you the best result. To Find Out More

couple consulting with the builder

The solution is to try to communicate between everyone involved in your building project. This will ensure that there are no budget and concept misunderstandings. Get your builder involved in the design process – that will cut out lots of negotiations and everyone will be on the same page from the start.

You should also have an open mind when you consult with a builder about the cost of a job and understand that you may need to be flexible about your building job. It might go in a different direction to what you thought, but it could be even better than you imagined! Don’t get too stuck on your ideas, and always listen and engage with the expert advice of your builder, designer or architect.

Now that you know about the three most common reasons for not hearing back from your builder, hopefully, you can start communicating well with your builder and get started on your project.

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When planning to build or renovation of your home, consider the position and design.

The following tips can help improve the energy efficiency and ongoing costs. 

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Orientation

  • Living areas and rooms you spend lots of time in should be north-facing to catch sun and light for the longest part of the day.
  • Bedrooms should be positioned on the southern side, so they are cooler and more comfortable to sleep in at night.

Eaves

  • Eaves over north-facing windows can keep unwanted sun out in summer and let the sun’s warmth in during winter.

Living areas

  • Although open plan designs are popular, they can be difficult and expensive to heat and cool and can be quite noisy. So, make living areas more enclosed to keep heating and cooling costs down.

Zoning

  • Creating ‘zones’ by grouping rooms with similar uses together – such as living rooms, bedrooms and wet areas – can allow for more efficient heating and cooling.

Trees

  • Trees and shrubs can be used to block out the harsh morning and afternoon sun on the eastern and western sides of your home during summer.

Verandas and pergolas

  • Paving directly under north-facing windows reflects heat into the house, so adding pergolas or verandas in these areas can provide extra summer shade.

Glass

  • Too much glass can make your home very hot in summer and cold during winter.
  • Limit the number of windows on the east and west sides of your home.

Natural cooling

  • Position windows to maximize cross-ventilation, allowing breezes to flush out warm summer air that’s built up during the day.

Internal temperature

  • In warmer climates, elevated flooring and light construction materials can help keep the home cool.
  • Metal roofs effectively reflect sunlight and keep internal temperatures down.
  • Solid materials such as brick, concrete and stone used in the right areas can provide sufficient thermal mass to absorb and store heat during winter.

Insulation

  • Ceiling and wall insulation can help maintain a quieter and more comfortable home all year round.
  • Curtains or blinds with pelmets that sit firmly in the window frame can improve the insulation of your windows.

Lighting

  • While natural light offers the cheapest solution, fluorescent lights are also great as they save energy and last longer than standard lights.
  • LED lights can save as much energy as fluorescents and can last three times longer or more. While they are more expensive, technology is improving so they should become more affordable soon.

Colour

Your exterior colour scheme can have an impact on indoor comfort, so ensure walls and roofs are light-coloured. This way, they can reflect heat and help keep your home cool in summer.

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Builders can be confusing with their terminology and industry talk they use on a daily basis.

Building is like any other industry, there is a lot of terminology used and you can feel lost at times. Here are some terms that are often misunderstood, but do become very important when they appear in a building contract. Understanding the proper terms puts you on a level playing field with the builder when it comes time to consider quotes and signing contracts, helps reduce stress and eliminates budget blow-outs.

Below, we will explain what each of the most common terms used in the Building Industry actually mean.

corporate office employees

Provisional Sum (PS):  A Provisional Sum, more commonly known as a PS, is an allowance that the builder has made to complete a task. It covers labour only or labour and materials. They are useful when the final selections have not been completed at the time of signing the contract.

Prime Cost Item (PC): Much like a Provisional Sum, a prime cost item is a dollar figure allowance used in building quotes and contracts. It’s an allowance for materials such as appliances, sinks, taps etc. Note that the allowance for a Prime Cost item only covers the supply of that item. If possible make your selection choices prior to signing a contract.

Preliminary Building Agreement/Contract (PBA): A Preliminary Building Agreement or Preliminary Building Contract are also referred to as ‘pre-lims’ by builders. They are a pre-contract document that includes all of the tasks that need to be organised prior to signing a building contract. Engineering, soil tests and working drawings all need to be completed in order to produce a fixed price contract. A Professional builder will always start with a Preliminary Building Agreement before committing to a full building contract.

Extension Of Time (EOT): An Extension of Time is simply the amount of days that are added to your building contract.

Variations: Variations can get introduced for many different reasons. The most popular reason for a variation being added is when you change your mind on something after the contract has been signed.

Rock Clause: Finally, a rock clause is found on most building contracts. It is there to protect your builder from unfortunate unforeseen circumstances like hitting rock during the excavation.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

To complete this article, make sure you understand, and you are happy with the proposal your builder has put together, for the construction of your new home.

Just thinking about building can bring about many different emotions…

It can make you excited and energised. Meanwhile, creating a surge of anxiety about what is involved with building your new home.

For most people, their home is their biggest asset, so when you are at the quoting and pricing stage of your project, make sure you don’t move too quickly. Gathering several quotes and then going with the lowest price is the normal thing to do if you’re building a deck, but when it involves building a new home, you could get taken for a ride…

In this article, you’ll learn exactly why you should be wary of builders offering ‘free’ quotes!!

The Difference Between a Quote and an Estimate, is very Clear.

The first thing to understand is the difference between a quote and an estimate. Even among builders themselves, this term gets used pretty loosely.

Step one is always to start with the estimate. You have probably been thinking and planning out your dream home for some time. You know you want 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a 2-car garage and a swimming pool for the kids would be nice too. Maybe you even have a budget in mind which is extremely helpful for a builder to know, so they can plan the home you want.

Loaded with all of that, getting the estimate is really just confirming that what you want is roughly within your budget. It’s the starting point in your building process. Estimates are ballpark figures based on your criteria. They don’t require the builder to go away and calculate every material and fitting. Estimates don’t usually cost you anything and are generally worthless as no detailed work or planning has begun.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

It’s when a free quote is being thrown around out there and offered to you that you need to be cautious. In most cases, free almost always ends up costing you more.

Creating a detailed quote is a time-consuming process for a builder, often taking more than 50 hours to put together. A quote for your new home involves professional estimators, contacting subcontractors for quotes and creating a lengthy and detailed job schedule. This easily runs up a cost to the builder of several thousand dollars.

It’s for this reason that a full quote from a professional builder should never be free. A nominal fee is charged for their time to provide you with a detailed quote for your project. Builders offering free quotes often rush their process and miss out incredibly important details for your home. Remember that step 1 is to work with a builder and ask for an initial estimate to see if your project can be built within your budget.

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 The Problem With a 1 Page Quote, It is Not Accurate.

One way you can tell if you are getting an estimate instead of a quote, is by how long the actual document you receive is. A one-page estimate is fairly standard and can easily include all of the necessary information to let you know if your new home is within reach.

A detailed quote however, should be between 25-40 pages and specify every inclusion and can even reference working drawings of your project. A quote details for you and the builder, the amount of materials and labour for the duration of your project.

Some builders will cut corners and leave out specifics and instead include Provisional Sums (PS’s) and Prime Cost Items (PC’s). If you see either of these on your document it should raise a flag. These are just estimated allowances and so down the road, they can end up costing you significantly more once the real values are known. This is a dead giveaway the builder saved time and gave you an estimate rather than a detailed quote.

If you are working with a preferred builder on a quote for your new home, make sure you ask for a copy of the job schedule. This will show you if the builder has quoted the job or had a guess at it.

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Builders Working for Free are not in Demand.

builder

This is a handyman, not a professional builder. Building custom homes and completing large-scale renovations on your family home is a tricky job. It’s tough and a low margin for the builders. Any builder that has free time to offer you a free quote on your project is obviously not in demand, so be wary. These guys are desperate for the cash, so they offer you everything free in the beginning to get your business, but will charge you interest on everything later on during your contract.

Professional builders are aware of their admin costs and charge appropriately for all of their services, not just the building contract but for drawings, preliminary building agreements, detailed quotes, soil test and more. A builder that charges appropriately for their services from the outset has already covered their costs and so are unlikely to inflate your contract price.

Builders working for free, on the other hand, are hoping to win 1 in every 10 that come around, so they recoup their losses on those other 9 by inflating your contract price.

Always be wary of custom home builders offering you a ‘free’ quote. Make sure you do your homework and choose the most professional builder you can find.

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Building a new house is a daunting experience.

You want your new home to be as affordable as possible, and you don’t want to get ripped off by any dishonest builders or tradies who think they can get away with overcharging.

So when you are at the quoting and pricing stage of your project, make sure you don’t move too quickly. It’s when a free quote is being thrown around out there and offered to you that you need to be cautious. In most cases, free almost always ends up costing you more.

Choose a professional builder, such as HIA builders or Master Builders, so you don’t get ripped off, they will offer a written contract that clearly describes the work, materials to be used, timelines, price, responsibilities of both parties and other details as appropriate.

A “cost per square metre rate” is a method of expressing building costs that should be used with extreme caution by both clients and contractors involved in the cost comparison and cost planning process.

Make sure you dig into the details to see exactly what you’re getting. For instance, one builder might charge you $1,000 per square metre while another’s price might be $1,700 a square metre.

Does that mean the second builder is ripping you off?

Not until you look into the details.

Truth is you may not be comparing apples with apples.

The bottom line:

Don’t fall into the trap of comparing house prices via square metre rates. Quite frankly, there are too many variables – and you may end up with an orange when you really wanted an apple.