Planning on doing a little home renovation or even building your very own dream home? Don’t let the horror reno stories you may have heard put you off, instead be building smart and take heed of the following expert advice.
Steve and Suzanne Burke, owners of award-winning renovation company – Amerex Renovations – with over 20 years of experience, share their tips and advice on how to avoid becoming a building horror story.
We have all heard the building horror stories. There is the building project that took years to complete; the story of the builder that went bust half-way through a project leaving the homeowner high and dry; tales of dodgy workmanship and the woes of not being able to get trades back to fix stuff. It is enough to put anyone off building or renovating.
The good news is that it is not like that most of the time. We simply hear more about the building horror stories than the good ones. I believe that for every building horror story, there are hundreds of projects completed on budget, on time and to a high standard.
So how do you make sure you are a success story instead of a horror story? Thankfully there are some easy steps you can take to ensure you end up a winner.
Schedule blowouts and time delays
The main causes of schedule blowouts and time delays on building projects are:
- Change in scope – if you keep adding new features to your project, then it will take longer. To avoid this, spend time planning at the start of your project.
- Weather delays – unexpected weather events can happen at any time of the year. To minimise the impact (1) allow for rain days in your schedule and (2) plan indoor tasks to be performed during winter months.
- Supplier Delays – some products need to be ordered in advance. Always ask before ordering a product how long it will take to arrive.
- Suppliers going out of Business – I have seen homeowners buy appliances early in the project and the retailer has held the goods in storage. Unfortunately when the retailer went out of business, the owner could not gain access to their goods. Sunk money. If you buy early, store the goods yourself until you are ready to use them.
- Trade shortage – Good tradespeople are worth waiting for and those that are at the top of their game usually have a waiting list. Create a project schedule and lock in your premium trades in advance.
Watch out for budget creep
Know your budget and stick to it. It is very easy to get tempted into buying goods and materials that are more than you have budgeted for. Budget creep can happen slowly and surely, and before you know it, you have added thousands to the total cost of your build.
A great way to approach this is to allow for one or two splurge items and put some padding into your budget to cater for this.
Get the right trades on board
Nothing wrecks a renovation project faster than poor workmanship. Getting the right trades on board is essential to ensure that you are not left disappointed with the end result. Use this checklist to source quality tradespeople:
- Certain trades MUST be licensed or registered. Ask for their evidence of their registration number and check that it is still current.
- Ask if they have Insurance coverage? Without insurance you might be personally liable if they have an accident in your home.
- Will they let you talk to previous customers as a reference? Just because they finished a job around the corner it doesn’t mean that the customer is happy with their work.
- Do they provide a written quote? Never proceed without a written agreement or you are likely to get slugged for additional costs and labour cost blow-outs.
- Don’t pay in cash. With no proof of payment it is unlikely that you will get a warranty for the work so you won’t have a leg to stand on if the work is substandard.
Steps to choosing a reputable builder when they all look the same
Choosing a Builder can be confusing. They all promise the same things so how do you know which one will deliver on their promises? Which one will deliver on time, on budget, and do the right thing by you and your home?
- Check that your Builder is registered/licenced.
- How long have they been in business?
- Does the Builder have a track record in homes that are similar to yours?
- Check the Builder’s track record of delivering on time. Ask to speak to clients on recently completed projects.
- Ask who you talk to when you have concerns during your build. Are you able to talk to your Builder or will you have to deal with office staff you have not met before.
- Ensure that promised dates are written into your Contract.
- Only proceed if everything is in writing and signed off in a standard contract.