Are you planning to build your dream home after spending years designing and saving investments? If so, then definitely, your next step is going to bring a builder on board who can bring your vision to life.

Let’s just face this. A wrong choice of builder will cause you a lifetime of stress and a loss of investment. Therefore, bringing the right constructor is equally important, as it can make or break your building experience.

To ensure you know your rights and have a smooth construction experience, we have listed 10 questions to ask the builder before you sign a contract.

1. Are You A Licensed or Unlicensed Builder?

The first crucial step in ensuring you’ve chosen a trustworthy builder is to determine whether they are a licensed contractor. It’s important to note that while hiring an unlicensed builder might seem cost-effective, it can potentially lead to serious safety issues and the risk of incomplete projects.

Ensuring your contractor possesses the necessary knowledge, license, and experience will provide peace of mind. Simply ask for their license number, verify it online with the relevant authorities, or contact references to confirm the builder’s reputation.

Step 1: Find the Builder’s Licence Number

To check a builder’s license in NSW, you’ll need their license number. This information is often available on their website or in their advertising materials. If you can’t find it there, don’t hesitate to ask the builder directly. A reputable builder should be more than willing to provide their license number. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, it’s a red flag that they might not be properly licensed to perform the work. This step is crucial for ensuring the safety and reliability of your project, so always take the time to verify this information.

Step 2: Visit the NSW Fair Trading Website

The NSW Fair Trading website offers a free service that allows you to check if a builder holds a current and valid license. This is crucial to ensure your builder is qualified and meets all regulatory standards. To verify a builder’s license, visit the NSW Fair Trading website at:

NSW Fair Trading License Check

Once on the site, follow these steps:

  1. Enter the builder’s license number in the search bar.
  2. Click the “Search” button.
  3. The website will display details about the builder’s license status, including their name, license number, categories, expiry dates, and any conditions or restrictions associated with the license.

This information helps you make an informed decision and avoid potential issues with unlicensed or unreliable builders. Always take advantage of this free service to safeguard your investment and ensure a smooth building process.

2. How Will You Ensure Effective Communication Throughout Construction?

Understanding how your builder will keep you informed throughout the process is crucial for staying on track and avoiding misunderstandings.

You do not want to end up chasing the builder for regular reports throughout the journey. Know which communication channels they will use, when you will get the updates, and how quickly they will respond.

Don’t hesitate to ask about the number of people involved in managing your project. Establishing direct contact with these key individuals will help you stay informed about daily activities on the site. This direct line of communication can be invaluable for addressing any issues promptly and keeping the project on schedule.

3. How Is Quality Control Ensured During My Home’s Construction?

Seeing is believing when it comes to verifying a builder’s reputation. By visiting their previous projects, you can directly assess the quality of their workmanship and attention to detail. This hands-on inspection allows you to gauge the builder’s consistency and standards. Furthermore, examining older homes provides valuable insights into the longevity and durability of their construction, helping you make a more informed decision.

Additionally, ask to speak with past clients to gain personal insights into their experiences with the builder. This can provide valuable information about the builder’s communication, problem-solving abilities, and overall management of the construction process.

4. How Will Payments Be Structured?

Be sure to talk to the constructor regarding the payment structure to maintain transparency between both parties. A professional builder will not ask the client to make full payment for the project before the work has started.

Typically, they will require the customer to pay some deposit in advance to start the project. Afterwards, they will share a payment contract covering the milestones, terms and conditions, and mode of payment.

Moreover, you should ask how they will deal with any additional work not included in the contract before. You can also inquire about how they will make sure that the project remains within the assigned budget.

5. Is There Any Kind of Warranty That You Provide?

A reputable builder will offer a long-term warranty, demonstrating their confidence in their construction quality. It’s crucial to inquire about the type and duration of the warranty they provide.

Discuss the specifics of the structural or cosmetic warranty included in the coverage. The builder should clearly outline the types of issues covered and their respective solutions. Moreover, they should provide a specific timeframe for these warranties.

Ensure these details are explicitly stated in the contract to maintain clarity and prevent future misunderstandings.

6. What Will Be The Rough Timeline For The Complete Construction?

While the building process can be inherently unpredictable, a reliable builder should be able to provide an estimated project deadline. It is beneficial to ask the contractor for a detailed breakdown of the timeline, including phases such as pre-construction, construction, and post-construction.

Considering the project’s complexity, size, and financial investment, the builder should set a realistic timeframe for its completion. This timeframe should be based on a thorough understanding of potential challenges and necessary resources, ensuring the project is completed efficiently and effectively.

7. How Do You Handle Dispute Resolution or Unforeseen Circumstances?

Generally, disputes may arise due to delays in time assigned for a particular work, payment issues, low-quality material, etc. Also, unforeseen weather conditions, labour shortages, or equipment failures may prolong the process. Hence, it’s important to know how the builder will deal with these situations.

A trustworthy contractor will take measures like open communication, clear documentation of every aspect of the process, etc. You can also discuss the method of conflict resolution that he will adopt, like negotiation, mediation, litigation, etc, to solve the issue.

8. How Do You Accommodate Changes In The Contract After I Have Signed It?

You may want to update the contract in the future due to a change in design or mistakes in the initial scope of work, or you may want to include any specific details. Whatever the reason may be, asking the contractor beforehand how they will update changes is crucial.

You may ask the builder regarding their process of changing the contract. The change order may include requesting change, issuing an order, negotiating, approval, and finally documenting it.

9. Will You Assign The Project to Any Subcontractor or Suppliers?

Knowing if your project will be handled by any subcontractor or supplier is helpful for several reasons. It will help you determine who is responsible for any time management issues and establish clear communication.

Ask about the roles and responsibilities they will handle to know who will be dealing with your project. What is their level of experience and the kind of materials they use to assess the quality of work?

10. Are There Any Specific Things That You Don’t Deal With?

This is a good question to ask the builder as there can be certain things that construction companies don’t do or have limitations regarding the scope of work.

Some contractors may not be able to handle technical aspects, while others do not provide specific services or undertake particular tasks like landscaping.

This will also establish clear expectations and the scope of the work from the builder to guarantee smooth handling of the workflow.

The Bottom Line

Ensuring you and the builder are on the same page regarding the quality, timeline, and cost of the project is the key to a seamless building process. That’s why we have shared 10 important questions to ask the construction manager before hiring to guarantee a successful and hassle-free project completion.

At Fyffe Design, we have our eyes on the latest updates in the industry and have four decades of experience in building interior and exterior design. From concept to end-stage delivery, our building designers collaborate with the contractor, making sure your needs and budget are accommodated in the final design. Call us today!