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.


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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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  • 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 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.


  • 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 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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.


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.

Most people base the cost of their new home on a square metre rate, and you can never, ever trust that. You’ve got to take into account the difference in designs, otherwise you’re bound to go over budget. There’s all sorts of factors that go into the cost of something other than size or square metres and when it comes to building your new custom home, this applies even more so.

Think about it, your average home has hundreds of different components. What’s more, all of these materials come in different qualities, and the way they are assembled into a finished house can vary greatly in attention to detail and quality.

Sadly, many people don’t consider these factors, and it can lead to heartache after the design is complete and you take it to a builder only to find out it is way over your budget. You can’t afford to build the home.

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Have You Been Wasting All Your Time and Tens of Thousands of Dollars on an Unworkable Design?

It’s far more common than you think, but you can avoid it by involving a professional builder in the design process.

  • Be realistic in your expectations and make sure your budget is updated after each significant change.
  • 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 may be $1,700 a square metre. Does that mean the second home builder is ripping you off? Not until you look into the details, truth is revealed…

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You May be Comparing Apples With Bananas

Keep in mind, simple changes to design can have a significant impact on the price. Compare these two designs for example:

house blueprint house blueprint 1 They look much the same, right? Both have an internal area of 200 square metres. In fact, it’s hard to tell which one will cost more at first sight. However when you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover the second house has a 78% greater wall area and will require more guttering, bricks and metres of gyprock. What’s more, it will need at least several more litres of paint, and will likely have more windows and doors.

Yes, every house design is different. Some are square, some are ‘L’ shaped… and others have a variety of shapes and angles. So while 5 different houses may contain the same number of square metres, the amount of building materials required for the homes can vary significantly based on the shape.

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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 a banana when you really wanted an apple.

There is a very specific process to designing your home without going over budget, and avoiding all the traps. In fact, there are seven questions you should ask your builder before committing to anything.

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A professional builder is a general building work contractor who can put your whole project together. The builder will assume complete responsibility for the work contracted and give you a warranty once completed.

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Professional builders, such as HIA builders, Master Builders offer:

  • an extensive business network of suppliers, trades, installers and experts that they draw on as required for your project.
  • understanding of all the aspects of construction in detail and knowing how houses work. They can assess your renovation and explain what is involved, as well as identify potential problems and provide solutions.
  • advice on the most suitable approach if your project requires design services, and recommendations for a design professional if needed. Some builders offer both design and construction services. Alternatively, some builders are experienced in working with architects or building designers.
  • extensive knowledge of and experience using the latest products and materials. They keep up-to-date and can help you make the selections that will work best for your project and budget.
  • great awareness of all the regulations and codes in your council area and how the system works.
  • discussion with you to determine the right budget for your renovation. Their knowledge of the cost of materials and labour and therefore are in the best position to offer realistic cost effective construction, to achieve your renovation goals.
  • a written contract that clearly describes the work, materials to be used, timelines, price, responsibilities of both parties and other details as appropriate.
  • the ability to organise and manage a project – scheduling workers, trades and delivery of materials; keeping track of expenses; maintaining a clean and safe work site; and minimising the inconvenience to you. When necessary, they know how to deal with the unexpected and the surprises that sometimes occur in a renovation.
  • most importantly, prioritising the customer. Professional builders listen carefully so they know what you want. They provide you with names of previous customers so you can check out the company’s track record yourself. They explain the process so you know what to expect, and once the work begins they give you regular updates so you always know what’s going on. They also encourage you to voice any questions or concerns you may have as the work progresses. In brief, they work for you and with you to make sure that you are satisfied and happy with the final results.

Ten Good Reasons for Hiring a Professional Builder

(And ten good reasons why you should choose a professional!)

  1. From start to finish. A professional builder will help you to put it all together – from ideas to design, from products to plans, from construction to completion.
  2. Experienced advice. A professional builder has the experience and knowledge to help turn your ideas into great results. They listen, make suggestions, and look for the best way of doing things.
  3. Technical know-how. Professional builders understand construction, how to deal with challenges and problems, and how to improve the comfort of your home.
  4. Expert teamwork. Behind every professional builder, there is a solid network of staff, subcontractors and suppliers ready to go to work for you.
  5. A proven track record. Their business is an open book. You are invited to talk with past customers, look at their previous work and check out their reputation.
  6. Accurate pricing. No need to be concerned about low-ball costing, inferior work or escalating prices once the job begins. Professional builders know what it takes to do something right and how much it costs, and they’ll tell you upfront.
  7. A written contract. Trust alone is not enough; professionals back it up with a written contract that spells your project out in detail – what, how, who, when and how much.
  8. Liability insurance and workers compensation coverage. Better safe than sorry. In the unlikely event of an accident or damage to your own or neighbouring properties, a professional builder’s cover protects you from liability and cost.
  9. Like any other consumer purchase, a professional renovation comes with a warranty on labour. And with professional installation, there is no risk of voiding the manufacturer’s warranties on materials and products.
  10. Service, service, service. Professional builders are in business for the long term. They work hard to earn your trust and make every renovation a great experience.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

Note our blog image – this is the result of working with a professional builder!

You may have heard people discussing ‘variations’ when they talk about building and renovating. If you haven’t, it might be a good thing that you’re reading this article.

Variations can easily be the cause of a lot of unexpected expense and an unforgettable experience, and they’re often completely avoidable if you know what you’re doing.

What are ‘variations’?

The term ‘variations’ refers to changes to what’s been agreed upon in signed building or design contracts – or any contracts, for that matter.

Let’s say, for instance, that you’ve settled in a hurry on a certain style of tiles for your bathroom, and that the style you’ve chosen has been written into your building contract. At some point during the project, you find out that you’ve chosen the most hideous tiles in the catalogue, and insist that the bathroom can’t possibly be built using these tiles.

If you choose to tell the builder you need to change to a different style of tiles, you’ll normally be liable for a variation to the original contract – and the builder can rightly charge you a lot more for it… especially if they’ve already bought the original tiles.

7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home

Why are building variations expensive?

There are several reasons that variations to contracted work cost so much. The first is that a building contract is a legal document – and to get it changed may require the services of a lawyer.

Other things that can contribute to costs in variations are:

  • Cost differences between specified work or products and updated requirements
  • Pre-agreed penalty clauses for variations
  • Extra material costs (especially if materials have already been bought)
  • Added labour or work costs – particularly if work has already started, if variations require alterations to completed work or plans, or if there’s a need to call back tradespeople to the site
  • Added engineering, drafting or approval expenses – especially for revisions to structural work, which can easily cost three or four times more than just materials and labour

A bit of variation room usually is necessary on a project as big as building a house, but if there is a scope of allowed variations, it’ll also need to have its limits and conditions. To be clear, builders often need to request variations too, where original plans mightn’t turn out to be the best, most practical or most sensible option.

How to properly manage variations

If you want to request variations to what’s in your contract, your builder will usually provide a quote for the cost of the variations. It’s then a matter of:

  1. agreeing to changes and costs (in writing),
  2. negotiating a different solution or
  3. biting the bullet and continuing with the original plans.

Insist that prices and all the details of variations required are put in writing and signed off by both parties before work is done.

There’s a difference between being friends with your builder, and having a good professional relationship. Many bitter disputes begin with the assumption that everyone’s friendly enough to put the paperwork aside till later. It’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure that there’s absolute clarity and a well-managed paper trail when it comes to anything to do with contracted work and payments.

Depending on what’s being requested, you’ll need to remember that variations can have a very significant impact on deadlines and completion dates too.

Why do people need to request variations?

When it comes to homeowners, the need for variations is usually the result of miscommunication, misunderstanding or rushing in without being thorough enough with contracts.

Disputes often arise over what’s been agreed upon, and whether or not it is  actually a ‘variation’, or a fair interpretation of what’s stated on the contract.

Lack of detail in contracts and miscommunication are often the cause when it comes to variations and disputes – particularly when people realise that they’ve accidentally settled on very basic items, or a set ‘prime cost’ (PC) budget for the builder to purchase unspecified products.

A good example of the PC trap: people very often realise halfway through their building or renovation project that the money allocated for bathroom taps will only be enough for the most basic options, when they’d  prefer a more expensive chrome options. You can never be too detailed in planning…

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kitchen and dining area

The more common variations people request include:

  • variations in design
  • variations in quantities
  • variations in models and styles of products
  • variations in quality
  • variations in the order in which things are constructed

And as we’ve already mentioned, sometimes it’s the builder who needs to request variations, perhaps because there’s an issue with the original plans, or an unforeseen issue with the site. Make sure your contract’s very clear about the need for the builder to submit detailed requests for variations in writing, along with any changes to proposed costs.

How to avoid variations

The best way to avoid expensive variations is to be well prepared. Be very thorough, careful and involved when it comes to planning – and never sign a contract until you’re certain it’s absolutely specific about everything you want.

This means making sure your contract includes things like:

  • brand and model names for things like toilets, taps, power points, door handles, locks, range hoods, light bulbs etc.
  • specific detail on the number of coats of paint to be used, texturing / application preferences etc.
  • specific colours, shades and products to be used

It’s also worth ensuring that your contract is very clear about any work that’s going to be done by other contractors, about local building regulations or restrictions, and about the need to consult you, or your building designer or architect on any product choices or deviations from what’s been specified.

Is it true that variations are used by builders to trick unwary customers?

Builders rely on word of mouth for business, and it’s in most builders’ interests to avoid disputes and make sure their customers are happy. It’s also true that for most builders, variations are a potential source of trouble so if they’re professional they’ll normally do their best to make sure there’s no misunderstanding on your part.

There are instances where cowboy builders prey on less informed customers though, by under quoting and then pushing up their margins by severely over charging for the variations you’ll inevitably have to request.

The best way to avoid this is to be very thorough about what you want, research and choose a builder you know you can trust, and always be suspicious of unusually low prices.

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