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The five stages of choosing the right home renovation specialist

12 May 2017

According to research by the Registered Master Builders Association, the top three concerns of Kiwis looking to undertake building work or renovate are the quality and integrity of the builder, cost overruns, and timely completion. All these things can be addressed by using due diligence when selecting your builder. Here are the five stages you’ll go through when choosing.

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Stage 1 - Finding a builder

First things first, where do you find a builder? Word of mouth is a good starting point; ask your friends and colleagues. Or you can find builders listed in directories such these:

Find a Builder

Check your Builder

New Zealand Certified Builders

Licensed Building Practitioners

Stage 2 - Doing your homework

Once you’ve shortlisted your builders, check up on them to find out more. Check references from previous clients. No Cowboys is a website where the public rate and review legitimate builders.  

Do a credit check to see whether they stand up financially. 

Meet up with them to make sure you feel comfortable and confident in them, and see how they communicate in person. You need to get on well with your builder because unless you’re moving out of your house completely during the renovation, you could be spending a lot of time with them around.

Make sure they have renovation experience.

Ask if they have the required insurance and be sure to note it in your contract.

Stage 3 - Getting quotes/inviting tenders

Best practice is to get at least three detailed quotes (don’t settle for just an estimate). A quote is a breakdown of the costs of all labour and materials so when you’re comparing quotes make sure you compare like for like. Check that the materials specified will get the finish you want. Look carefully at whether subcontractors' work has been accounted for. Ask what is NOT included! And don’t be afraid to challenge the quote and ask how they reached those figures. If there are big price differences you need to find out why; has the lower bidder missed something out or is the higher bidder trying to rip you off?

You could also put the job out for tender. If builders know there is competition for the job you might get a sharper price. It could take a long time to pull together a quote this way so allow time in your planning phase. It may also help to get an initial estimate from a quantity surveyor (QS) first so you have a ballpark figure of what the job should be costing.

Stage 4 – Seeking consent

Each local council has their own rules and regulations when it comes to defining which projects require consent and which do not. Talk to your architect/draughtsman or builder about seeking consent BEFORE any work begins.

Stage 5 – Agreeing on a contract

Agreeing on a contract is a delicate and vital part of the process when selecting your renovation builder. There are different types of contracts to be aware of. A full contract (the most common) means the builder looks after the job from beginning to end, supplying all materials and arranging subcontractors. A labour-only contract means you manage all the paperwork, subcontractors, materials, and the builder. And a managed labour contract is where you manage purchasing the materials, subcontractors, etc, and the builder manages the day-to-day running of the project.

Agreeing on a formal contract sorts out who is responsible for what and by when, noting any potential hassles and frustrations from the outset. 

IMPORTANT: Make sure your written contract includes details of your builder’s guarantee, insurance, health and safety systems, and payment schedules, stage completion dates and a means of dispute resolution.

Why choose Switched On?

  • Your dedicated project manager will keep you in the loop throughout the project and ensure your renovation comes in on time and within budget.
  • We offer fixed price renovation packages to help make it easy. We are ready to provide examples of our work and a detailed list of tiered options.
  • We offer very authentic renders so you can visualise your alterations in advance.
  • With teams in both Wellington and Christchurch, we can provide advice and estimates.
  • One company sorts your entire job. We have plumbers, electricians, painter and builders – all qualified and registered – ready to work together to make your job happen.


Book a free consultation with a Project Manager