Building a new home is one of the biggest financial investments you will ever make. But with hundreds of builders in your local region alone, it can be confusing knowing which builder to choose.

The right builder will give you what you want – on time and on budget. But the wrong builder could leave you with a costly disaster you’ll regret for years.

In this blog, you will discover important tips to choosing the right builder, starting with…

A comparison of custom home builders and project builders

Have you ever dealt with a company that made you feel more like a number rather than a valued client?

Or like you’re suddenly no longer important once you sign that contract on the dotted line?

That’s a common complaint we hear from people who choose a project builder. Even though they are handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars, they feel forgotten, unimportant, and even ignored. Some complain their builder won’t even take or return their calls.

Naturally, not all project builders treat their customers like this. But when trying to build tens and sometimes hundreds of houses at once, it’s no wonder personal attention often suffers.

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On the other hand, a skilled custom builder remains focused on a small number of homes at once, and is not distracted trying to juggle hundreds of projects…

That means you get the personal attention you deserve. And after all, a lot of money is at stake. You want to know your builder is focused on delivering your home – on time and on budget.

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Not only do quality custom builders maintain good communication with you, they pay attention to the details. By nature, they focus on customising the little things that turn a house into the home you’ve always wanted…

… things like the extra ceiling height that give your home a spacious, relaxed feel…

… the position of windows to maximise light and air flow…

… internal walls and partitions to connect each room giving a seamless flow…

… and the little touches that make your home unique, matched to your lifestyle and personality.

Project builders are bound by a range of standard plans that maximise profits and building capacity. They produce very similar houses like a factory assembly line churns out cloned products.

Drive through any new housing estate and you will get a sense of what we are talking about. And when you look at a project home more closely, you’ll soon see where corners have been cut and compromises made in the name of efficiency.

If you’re looking for the cheapest possible price, a cloned design with no customisation or special features, and don’t mind having no interaction with your builder during the building process, a project builder may be right for you.

But if you want to deal with someone who can help you add special touches to your home while sticking to your budget…

… a skilled tradesperson who takes pride in the small details…… and someone who follows a schedule, keeps you up to date on the progress, and is always available to answer questions.

You need to choose a Professional Builder that will impress you with their attention to detail and quality of the build. The quality and luxury will surpass your expectations, and you will want to pass on recommendations to friends.

Project builders have their place in the market. But when you can get the exact home you want, delivered on time and on budget, complete with those special features that turn a house into your home – all for around the same price – it’s worth at least talking with a professional custom home builder.

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We consider ourselves a Custom Builder. We work with you, we don’t just want clients, but we want to develop and build relationships to encourage repeat business, referrals and word of mouth advertising.

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Display Homes

Custom Builders generally don’t have specific display homes, you can view other’s builder’s display homes, search the internet, visit supply shops also inspect the custom builder’s previous works and put together what you like.

Design and Layout

Custom Builders customise to suit your needs and budget. A benefit of a Custom builder, is you select exactly what you want and put it together in your house. Custom Builders will help you with the design and layout for your home, making sure you get the correct result as they are tailored to each client. Another benefit of getting your own plans drawn is that Custom Builders allow you to keep copyright of your own plans.

Price

Custom Builders are comparable to other builders. Custom Builders quote each project individually, either based on what you want, or based on budget and the builder can show you where to save in certain areas such as, suggest design options, cheaper materials such as tiles or carpet options and also fixtures and fittings options.

new house with plans in foreground

Cost of Building ( in general )

This is another area where Custom Builders are comparable. The cost of building seems expensive whichever way you go, however the cost goes into unseen things, such as foundations, framing, engineering, council fees, plumbing and electrical etc. Custom Builders usually get multiple quotes from various sub-contractors to ensure the cost of the trades is the best possible.

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Inclusions / Exclusions

Custom Builders are fully flexible and can do what you like, from a fully complete turnkey home, or a lock-up only contract and any stage in between. If you know a tiler, plumber, electrician or painter you want to engage, a custom builder can accommodate this.

Complexity of the Build (sloping block, narrow block)

Custom Builders normally accept such work and factors into the quote the added issues to give a true price indication to the client at the start. The Custom Builder has the flexibility to engage an architect and engineer to come up with a suitable and appropriate home on any land condition ensuring it is compliant with building codes.

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Site Meetings

Most Custom Builders arrange to meet with clients on site during the building works. This allows the relationship to remain open and allows the client to track the progress of work.

Owning a home presents itself with many different responsibilities. Even if you have just purchased a new home, it’s important to make regular home maintenance routines a part of your life. Home maintenance ensures that all of the different elements of your home run smoothly together, saving you time and money in the long run.

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Here are a few tips for maintaining your new home.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

One of the easiest but most commonly overlooked home tasks is keeping track of the gutters. You want to clean your gutters a few times a year, and make sure to check them for clogging or damage if there has been a storm.

It’s important to keep gutters in good condition because they are what keeps water away from your home. If your gutters are clogged, rainwater has nowhere else to go and can leak into your home, causing anything from mould to structural damage.

Avoid Grease Fires

Keep the range hood over your stove clean. If it has filters, make sure to clean them regularly because grease build up over time can lead to a fire. While you’re at it, make sure the smoke detectors all have working batteries.

Maintain Heating and Cooling Systems

Do annual inspections of your heating and cooling systems. The best time is usually at the end of summer. Make sure to change or wash the filters every three months.

Don’t Slack on the Plumbing

Every member of your household should know where to find the water main.  If you get a leak in any of your appliances, don’t wait to fix it. Leaks can cause your pipes to deteriorate and can cost you thousands of dollars on your water bills.

Beware of partially clogged drains, as they can cause an overflow. Make sure you use a snake or plunger to unclog drains immediately.

air con filter

Vacuum in Strange Places

At least once a year, you should turn your vacuum cleaner onto the clothes dryer exhaust duct. While you’re at it, use your vacuum on the refrigerator coils underneath.

Test the Garage

Once a month, you should make sure your garage door is still functioning properly. Place obstructions in the door’s way to ensure that it continues to respond and doesn’t close when it isn’t safe to do so.

Keep Solar Panels Clean

If your modern home was built with solar panels, the sun doesn’t necessarily do all the work. The build-up of dust, grime and bird droppings prevents your panels from efficiently absorbing the sun. It’s important to regularly check your solar panels and keep them clean.

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Choosing to build a new home is a big decision an even bigger decision is choosing the correct builder. All you are looking for is the best possible builder to work with you and build your dream home. Sometimes a builder you may have thought would do exactly what was promised may turn into a nightmare. Below are a few warning signs to look for.

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Difficulty Communicating

One of the warning signs that you have picked the wrong builder is that you are unable to communicate with them. When you have contracted a builder to construct your home, there are many decisions that need to be made. Since this is your home, you will be the one making the majority of those decisions. You may even find that you may change your mind from time to time or have questions to ask about the build, this is when you will need to talk to your builder.

Should you find that you attempt to contact the builder and get no response, you more than likely have chosen the wrong builder to work with. If days go by without hearing from the builder and this continues to happen than this is a bad sign.

You’re going to be dealing with your builder for many months and a close working relationship will be critical to ensure a successful outcome, so make sure you understand who it is you are with from day to day.

Price Is Too High Or Too Low

Another sign that you have picked the wrong builder is you are feeling pushed into a sale and you can not see the value in their product.

On the other hand, if the price is incredibly low ask a lot of questions and as the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, then it more than likely is.

Selecting a builder that is significantly less than other quotes may lead to future issues if in fact the builder has made an error with the quote.

warning sign

Too Many Mistakes

You may have also contracted the wrong builder if your home is not turning out as expected. While it is common to make the odd mistake, if there are numerous mistakes that are not being fixed you are not going to be happy. A good builder will always make the client priority and go out of there way to keep them happy.

Also, if the contractor you’re hoping to use can’t provide any proof of insurance, it is best not to enter into an agreement with him.

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Under Estimating Site Works Costs:

Some builders under estimate site work costs to reduce the overall price and win the job. The Clients end up paying thousands more than allowed in the contract. Always ask for a detailed breakdown of the site works provisional sum and get a second opinion if you are having any doubts.

Unrealistic Construction Time Frame:

Many companies are often trying to manage too many builds at once. This doesn’t allow them time to manage trades and effectively control quality. While this is going on projects will blow out well and truly beyond their construction time frame. So, ask the builder how many projects they have going on at the same time.

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Misunderstanding Dimensions on Plans:

Floor dimensions and floor areas can be calculated in different ways and builders often indicate floor areas to give the appearance that their design is larger than their competitors. Room dimensions can be taken from the middle or the edge of the wall and total dimensions may or may not be the areas under the eaves. Beware of this when comparing designs. 

Shop around for Finance:

People shop around when looking for the right builder but don’t look around for a good mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers have access to many different lenders, so its worth speaking to your bank and a couple of brokers to get an idea of the range of finance solutions that are available for you. 

“Turnkey” Doesn’t Always Mean “Turnkey”:

A true “ Turnkey ” house should be ready to live in as soon as it is completed. Unfortunately some companies advertise a product as “turnkey” but without all necessary items. Ask for a break down of all inclusions and make sure everything you need is included in the turnkey package. 

Understand The Area You are Buying In:

Choosing a good location will add to your investment. On the other hand choosing a poor growth and rental area will affect your return when it comes time to sell or rent it out.

Be Aware of Comparing Apples to Oranges When Shopping for House Design:

It is exceedingly difficult to compare houses from different builders to determine which is better value for money. There are so many differences between quotes from one builder to another, at the end of the day, pick the design you like and is within your budget.

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woman holding apples and oranges

Display Home Inclusions:

When visiting display homes, ask what the display price does and doesn’t include. Pay particular attention to the inclusions and don’t be shy to ask for a total price.

Making Expensive Structural Changes:

Making changes to a builders standard house design can cost you big dollars in drafting and construction. The best way to keep costs down is to shop around until you find a design you like or one that only requires minimal changes or work with a Custom Builder.  Remember, research only costs you, your time. If you try and avoid some or all of the above situations you should enjoy your build and have a hassle free experience.

Selecting the right home builder for your needs and for the type of new home you are after is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your home buying process.

Fortunately, there are some proven ways to speed up the research and selection process and to help ensure that you find a quality builder who’s a good match to construct your new home.

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10 Ways to Choose the Right Home Builder

1. Know your requirements. What size, type and price range of home do you need?
2. Experience is the key. While every builder was once a new builder, experience matters.
3. Are previous clients satisfied? Ask for – and check – references from past home buyers.
4. Verify the builder certifications (where required) and adequately insured.
5. Do you have a design in mind? Does this builder have expertise in your style of home?
6. Warranty and service. How does this builder stack up for each?
7. Resale value. Have past homes from this builder maintained or increased value?
8. Association Membership. Is the builder a member of a Home Builder’s Association?
9. Other Projects. There’s absolutely no substitute for this step.
10 Quality of Workmanship. In workmanship, materials and practices in previous homes.

Know your requirements: While some builders construct a broad range of homes, many builders also specialise in a specific type of home, price range, or style. For example, not many firms build starter homes for first-time buyers and also multi-million dollar homes for custom home buyers. The building materials, trade contractors and even the building process itself can differ greatly by the type and price of home. You may have to make some sacrifices, as it isn’t always easy finding a home that meets all the requirements to be your dream home.

Experience is the key: Every home building company (including the most experienced and well-regarded companies today) once built their first home. And many new home building firms were started by experienced veterans of other builders. Don’t overly discount a new firm – especially if their team includes seasoned pros – but do look for strong experience overall and in the type of home you seek.

Are previous clients satisfied? Many builders offer customer references and referrals. If not, ask. And in either case, follow up. A few great questions to ask: Would you buy another home from this builder? Or recommend them to close friends or family? And don’t forget to ask for the key reasons why a past home buyer would or would not recommend a builder.

Verify the Builders Certifications: Not every state or area requires builders to be licensed, but make sure that you work with a licensed builder in such areas. Ask about the insurance that the builder and his or her trade contractors carry. Make sure that they and you are covered during the building process.

Do you have a design in mind? A builder whose entire portfolio consists of contemporary homes may not be the best fit for that highly traditional home you seek – and vice-versa. While many builders have expertise in a variety of design styles and architectural details, in general, look for a builder whose work includes at least some examples of the style of home you want.

Warranty and service: One of the top advantages of new construction is that your home itself and most of the products, systems and components it contains are brand-new and under warranty. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that major repairs or a new roof are likely years away is important. In addition, look for a structural warranty of 7 years or longer on the home itself, ideally transferable to a new owner should you sell. Also look for a builder who provides prompt and courteous service under warranty and who takes time to explain the proper maintenance and care that any home needs.

Resale Value: Good reputations follow good builders, among homeowners and Realtors. Look for builders whose homes tend to hold or maintain their value. Look for Realtor ads that specifically mention the name of a builder for a home for sale that’s now five or seven years old. That Realtor clearly sees the builder’s brand name as a big plus.

Association Membership: Not every good builder chooses to join their local Home Builder Association, so don’t place too much emphasis on this. However, such membership does tend to show that a builder is committed for the long-term to the area. It’s also a sign of commitment to new home community developers, building product suppliers and trade contractors that work in your city or town.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

Other Projects: Once you’ve narrowed down a list of prospective builders using the criteria above, this is the most important step. Nothing substitutes for touring a home built by a builder on your short list. It can be a furnished and decorated model home that’s open to the public. Or, it can be a home the builder constructed for a past buyer that you visit by appointment. In either case, pay careful attention to the look, feel and quality of the home.

Quality of Workmanship: Look for signs of quality construction and attention to detail when you visit the homes above. Also consider the building products that a builder uses. Are they brands with well-earned reputations for quality? What about the homes under construction you passed on the way to the completed model home? Were there signs of care and attention there, as well?

Last, look for the quality of people who work for the builder: Did the builder’s employees show sincere interest in you and your needs? Did they listen carefully? Did they provide good answers to your questions? Were they courteous, prompt and professional in your interactions with them in the model home, sales center or builder’s office?

With the ten steps above, you’ll be well on your way to selecting a good builder who’s a good fit for you, your needs, and the new home you’ll build together.

bundy home and blue sky

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When people are getting their home plans ready and are deciding on which materials to use in the structure, they start looking for “builder grade” materials. To a vast majority, this term denotes that the construction materials are of a good enough quality that builders would use them in their projects; but this is a misconception.

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Understanding what A grade is:

This term – “builder grade” is slightly misleading because builders use it all the time which makes laypersons believe that top grade materials are being used in the work. But the fact is that in most cases, these materials are of average quality; and are generally modular, mass-produced products. The quality hierarchy for materials in the construction industry is like this:

  • Ultimate custom grade
  • Custom grade
  • Quality grade
  • Builder grade

While products of builder grade are different from contractor to contractor, it’s crucial to understand the consequences of choosing builder grade products for your custom home project; these are often nothing more than short-term solutions.

The benefits of choosing quality home construction products:

  • Windows – These will be made of top quality aluminum or vinyl and single or double glass panes. This reduces drafts, improves the insulation envelope of your home and can help reduce your cooling & heating costs as well.
  • Entry doors– Well- designed, structured and top-quality doors will go a long way in protecting your home from the elements and outdoor environment. Choose high-quality, durable insulated doors that won’t become easily damaged.
  • Roofing and gutters– The roof is one of the most important features of your home’s structure. You should look for proofing products that will be solid and stable, weather-resistant and attractive as well as termite and borer proof. Well-established roofing product manufacturers always provide warranties for their products and this is another aspect you should be taking into consideration. The guttering is as important as the actual roof and these installations and the downspouts should be of great quality if you want them to perform well and last for decades.

It’s obvious that when you opt for the best products, you will pay a higher upfront cost for them too, and when you are building a home, these costs may seem like a lot when you add them altogether. But they are well worth the money spent as maintenance will be easy and you won’t have to deal with frequent breakdowns, malfunctions, and repairs. This adds to the lifespan and resale value of your home as well.

Why Quality Products Last Longer in Your New Home

Because ‘Quality Products’ were used when building a new home.

new home in bundaberg

When you’re in the process of building a new home, it isn’t hard to see why many people find it appealing to keep costs down by purchasing lower quality materials. But don’t be so quick to cut corners – it’s a decision that you’ll likely regret down the line.

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Here’s why it’s best to use quality products. Quality Products Get More Value Out of Your New Home in the Long Run.

From building materials to fixtures and appliances, using quality products will deliver more over time. High quality products are generally made using the most current techniques and technology, ensuring that they’re constructed to offer a longer lifespan.

At the same time, they’re comprised of the best components, meaning they’re sturdier and less likely to break. Then it’s a question of warranties. Quality products tend to be backed by better coverage, meaning your investment is protected longer. Finally, it’s a question of systemic strengths and failures. By using one low quality product, you might make it more likely that others will fail along with it. For example, bad light fixtures can ruin good wiring, and vice versa. Protect Your Investment By Using High Quality Products in Your New Home.

Quality Guarantee

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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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we build relationships

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.

family house

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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:

living area

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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