How Do I Choose a Builder?

Choosing the right builder for your home project can seem overwhelming. With so many options, how do you know who to trust for your building repairs, renovations, extensions or even a new build? This guide breaks it down step-by-step. We’ll explore how builders work on different types of projects, the key questions to ask them, and how to evaluate builders to find the perfect match for your needs.

Whether you need minor repairs or are embarking on a major renovation, you’ll learn the process of engaging the right builder for any residential project. With the help of this advice, you can approach your building project with confidence.

Types of Home Building Projects

Building Repairs

If you need repairs done to your existing home, a building repair contractor is your best bet. These tradespeople specialize in fixing structural issues, repairing damage, and general maintenance. They can handle everything from leaky roofs to foundation cracks to updating plumbing or electrical systems. For smaller jobs, an all-round handyman may suffice. But for major repairs, especially those involving permits, go with a licensed builder.


Looking to revamp your home with a kitchen reno, bathroom remodel, or adding an extension? A residential renovation builder is equipped to overhaul parts of your home or add more living space. They work with architects and designers to change the layout and update fixtures while ensuring the renovation meets building codes. Renovations often require permits, so only consider licensed and insured builders.

New Home Construction

If you’re building a home from the ground up, you’ll want to find a builder that specializes in residential new construction. They will help you through all stages of the build from initial planning and design to laying the foundation and erecting the frame to installing the fixtures and finishing details. New home builders have experience managing the entire construction process and coordinating any subcontractors. For such a major undertaking, only choose a reputable builder with a proven track record of quality workmanship.

Matching Builders to Your Project

When looking for a builder, the first step is determining what type of project you have. The builders and processes will differ greatly depending on whether you need repair work, a renovation, an extension, or a new build.

For minor repairs or renovations, a residential builder is probably your best bet. They specialise in working on existing homes and have the skills for everything from fixing leaky roofs to kitchen overhauls. Get recommendations from family and friends and check reviews online. Meet with a few to discuss the work, get quotes, and make sure you’re on the same page.

If you’re adding an extension or granny flat, look for builders experienced with home additions. Discuss how they will tie the new structure into your existing home and ensure structural integrity. They’ll need to obtain proper council permits, so they should be familiar with the regulations in your area.

For a custom home build, hire a registered master builder. They oversee the entire process, from securing land and permits to managing subcontractors like plumbers and electricians. Interview at least three builders and ask to see examples of their work. Discuss budgets, timelines, styles, and make sure your visions align. Building a home is a big undertaking, so you want a builder you trust and can communicate well with.

The most important thing is finding a builder suited to your needs. Do your research, ask the right questions, and don’t be afraid to negotiate or walk away if something feels off. Your builder should be someone you feel confident will get the job done properly so you can enjoy the end result. With the perfect team in place, your building project will be smooth sailing.

Evaluating and Selecting Your Builder

When it comes time to choose a builder, do your homework. Check reviews and references for any candidates. For a major project like a new home or renovation, meet with at least three builders. Ask them plenty of questions about their experience, qualifications, and working style to find one you connect with.

Experience and Qualifications

Find out how long they’ve been in business and what types of projects they specialize in. If it’s a major job, look for builders with at least 5-10 years of experience. Ask to see photos of past projects similar to yours. Make sure any builder you consider is properly licensed and insured for your project.

References and Reviews

Ask candidates for references from past clients with projects comparable to yours. Actually call the references and ask about the builder’s work quality, responsiveness, and if the job was completed on time and budget. Check independent reviews on sites like HomeStars or ProductReview as well. Look for builders with mostly positive reviews mentioning quality work, good communication, and reasonable pricing.

Communication and Working Style

Discuss how the builder prefers to communicate – will you have a single point of contact, will updates be provided regularly, how will any changes or issues be handled? Ask about their typical work schedule and how long they estimate your project will take. Look for builders that emphasize communication, transparency, and collaborative working relationships with their clients.

Estimates and Contracts

Have builders provide detailed, itemized estimates for your specific project based on the plans and specifications. Compare estimates closely based on the scope of work. Don’t just go with the lowest bid. Once you select a builder, have a lawyer review any contracts before signing to ensure your rights and the builder’s responsibilities are clearly outlined.

Doing your due diligence will help ensure you find a reputable builder you can trust to take on your project. Asking the right questions upfront and verifying qualifications and references can mean the difference between a successful build and a potential nightmare. Take your time to find a builder you connect with and who will communicate openly at every step of the job.

Questions to Ask

Once you’ve narrowed down some builders you’re interested in, it’s time to dig deeper by asking them some key questions. This will help determine if they’re the right fit for your project.

What experience do you have with this type of work?

Whether it’s a home renovation, extension or new build, you want a builder who has experience with similar projects. Ask about examples of their work and if you can see photos or even visit some of the sites. An experienced builder will be able to foresee any potential issues and have solutions ready.

What’s your availability and timeline for the project?

Get an understanding of the builder’s current workload and availability to start and complete your project. You want to make sure they can dedicate enough time and resources to keep things moving on schedule. Discuss key milestones and ensure the proposed timeline works with your needs.

What qualifications and licenses do you have?

For any major work, you want builders who are properly licensed and insured. Ask about their qualifications, credentials and if they belong to any professional associations. This shows they are committed to high standards and staying up-to-date with the latest building codes and practices.

Can you provide a detailed quote or estimate?

Get written quotes from builders that provide a breakdown of costs for materials, labour and any other fees. This allows you to properly compare builders and determine whose pricing is fair and reasonable. Be wary of any builder who provides only a rough estimate or is unwilling to commit to a quote in writing.

What are your payment terms?

Discuss how and when payments will be made to avoid any confusion or disagreement once the work starts. For major projects, a payment schedule over the course of construction is typical. Never pay for the entire cost of the work upfront.

Do you have any references I can contact?

Speaking to past clients is one of the best ways to evaluate a builder. Ask for references of people who have had similar work done. Call them and ask about their experience, if the work was completed on time and budget, and if they would recommend the builder.

By doing your due diligence and asking plenty of questions, you’ll find the right builder for your project. One who is experienced, reputable and able to work with you to achieve your goals on schedule and budget.

Engaging and a Builder

Once you’ve selected a builder for your project, it’s time to bring them on board. For a major renovation or new home build, you’ll want to have in-depth discussions about the scope of work, timeline, budget, and contract. For a smaller job like repairs or an extension, the process may be more straightforward but still important to get right.

Discuss the Details

Meet with your builder to walk through the specifics of your project. Explain your vision, priorities and any concerns you have. Ask questions about their approach, availability and estimated costs. For larger projects, it’s a good idea to put together a project brief to provide as much detail as possible upfront. Be open to the builder’s suggestions—they are the expert and may propose alternative solutions you hadn’t considered.

Create a Formal Contract

Never start a building project without a written contract in place. The contract should outline the agreed scope of work, timeline, payment schedule, and total price. It will also include clauses like insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and termination conditions. Be sure to read the fine print carefully before signing. A good builder will be transparent and willing to negotiate the terms. For major works, it may be worth having a lawyer review the contract.

Stay in the Loop

Once the project kicks off, stay actively engaged with your builder and tradespeople. Visit the site regularly to view progress and ensure work is being done to your standards. Ask questions if anything is unclear or different than expected. Provide feedback and input along the way. While you’ve hired the professionals, it’s still your home—so make sure you’re 100% satisfied at each stage before payments are issued or work proceeds to the next step.

With the right builder and proper oversight, your building project can go smoothly. But don’t hesitate to speak up if you have concerns. Clear communication and managing expectations on both sides will lead to the best outcome. Your builder should be your partner through the process, so make sure you establish a good working relationship built on transparency, trust and cooperation.


So there you have it – a guide to choosing the right builder for your project, whether it’s a repair, renovation, extension or new build. By understanding the differences between builders and projects, asking the right questions, and doing your due diligence, you’ll be well on your way to finding a qualified professional you can trust.

The process takes time and effort, but the end result will be worth it – a high-quality build that meets your needs and stands the test of time. Now all that’s left to do is roll up your sleeves, get out there, and start talking to builders. The project of your dreams is within reach.


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