Lowveld A-Z Catalogue

Top 10 tips for choosing and working with a builder

Building is usually the simple process of creating or enhancing some new aspect of your house. But hose who have embarked on this journey will let you know that in reality there is nothing simple about it. Here are some tips to ensure that your building experience is one that leaves your sanity in tact.

1. Don’t approach a builder too soon. It may seem logical if you’re thinking of having construction work done to start by approaching a builder, but don’t be too  hasty.
2. Consider the scope of the project. Find the right kind of building company for your project. The kind of contractor suitable for a luxury retail project has to be highly organised, usually with multiple managers, a well-organised back office, and teams that can operate around the clock and produce exceptionally high-quality work at speed. Such contractors tend to be expensive and for most people would be too much for a kitchen addition or an attic conversion.
3. Establish whether you need a specialist or just a general builder. A really good general builder is suitable unless the work in question is unusual.
4. Aim for one point of responsibility. Rather than using one general contractor, it may seem wise to try to save money by directly engaging separate tradespeople, such as plasterers, electricians and carpenters.

5. Let the builder manage the project. Views about what project management actually involves can vary, but in my opinion, the most important manager of a project is the main building contractor.
6. Be specific. I’ve mentioned it already, but I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be specific.
7. Embrace bidding. Competitive bidding is the process of getting alternative prices from different builders for the same work. Clearly, it’s crucial that the information against which they are pricing is absolutely clear and specific. (Otherwise how can two prices compare?)

8. Understand the importance of a building contract. A building contract is simply an agreement between a builder, who agrees to undertake a specific set of works,
and a client, who agrees to pay a set amount of money.
9. Consider who will do the rough-in and finish work. With a kitchen or bathroom, for example, the rough-in involves bringing the waste, plumbing and electrical
services to the right places. So pipes and cables are installed in walls and under floors, and are left poking out. Typically, walls are then lined and plastered, and floors laid, before the finish work.
10. Make one comprehensive inspection list. More arguments happen at the final stage than at any other time in a project, so it’s important to be ready for the common pitfalls.

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