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choosing and using a builder

From Habitat magazine - issue 05

When you’re planning a small home renovation, finding a reputable, reliable builder who does quality work, is available and who doesn’t charge the earth can seem a daunting task.

Choosing a builder

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably terrified of getting it wrong. The spectre of leaky buildings, crooked walls, poorly hung windows, or a project going way over budget is enough to make most of us quake in our boots. If you’re embarking on a larger project, an architect or a project manager will manage the process for you, but if you’re running a small-scale project yourself, here are a few tips to make the undertaking easier.

Do your homework first

Alarm bells should ring if the builder

Once you’ve selected a builder

Unless you’re dealing with a really low-budget renovation, do give serious consideration to getting an architect or a project manager to manage the undertaking. If you’re doing it yourself, though, remember, you’ll need a signed contract before work begins.

The main issue is to make sure your legal liabilities are identified, and that your builder will take responsibility for addressing them. This means ensuring that the necessary building or resource consents, and a building code compliance certificate, are obtained. Failure to comply with construction standards and tick off the right paperwork is highly likely to affect the sale of your house further down the track.

Finally, don’t forget that you can consider holding back a percentage of the payment until the last construction details have been dealt with to your satisfaction – such retentions can be mentioned in your contract. Once your builder has left the site, it can be really difficult to persuade them back to fix any problems.

In New Zealand, there are various types of building contracts available, depending on the nature of the project:

words: Sue Reidy
pictures: Scott Rothstein,

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