Building or renovating can be a complicated, expensive and stressful endeavour.  Selecting a good builder is essential to any building project as, to a large extent, it is the builder who will determine the project outcome.

Despite the many stories you may have heard about dodgy builders there are many good builders in the marketplace.  The key to finding them is understanding the type of builder you're looking for and knowing how to distinguish the good from the bad.

Types of Builders

One of the first things to understand about builders is that they aren’t created equal.  To better understand what this means, let's consider the automobile as an example. There are many types of vehicles that you can buy, including sports cars, hatchbacks, SUV’s, vans, Utes etc.  Each of these vehicles, while performing the same general function of getting you from A to B, provide a huge variety of more specialised functions. Now imagine you are considering buying a new car.  To make a good choice you will need to understand the various types of cars on offer, their specialities and your intended use. If you get this wrong you will quickly discover that the new KIA Carnival you just bought, while spacious, is not really suited to the racetrack or that the Hyundai Excel hatchback, while good on fuel and easy to park, isn’t going to cut it on a 4WD adventure through the outback.

Selecting the right builder is no different.  Making a good decision depends on understanding the builders limitations, specialities and your expectations and intended outcomes.  If these things don’t line up, no matter how wonderful your builder seems, chances are he/she will not be able to provide you with the level of service you require. In the residential sphere there are three main types of builders worth considering.

Selecting the right builder depends on understanding their limitations, specialities and your own expectations and intended outcomes.

Project/Volume Builders

Project builders provide a standardised range of pre-packaged building solutions. They typically operate under a high-volume, low margin business model where efficiency and economy of scale are the foundation to their success. This approach enables them to be very competitive on price, providing the project falls within their standard scope. Once outside of this scope however these builders tend to be inflexible and expensive, particularly where design requirements, custom selections and finishes and/or site conditions (sloped, battleaxe or narrow blocks) increase the complexity of the building process. Clients with a relatively simple site, who are happy to work within the parameters of standardised designs and selections will benefit most from engaging this type of builder.

Custom Builders

Custom builders provide a fully customised building service based on the requirements of each project and the corresponding needs of each client.  Unlike project builders they typically operate on a low turnover higher margin basis where a higher level of flexibility, design and service allow them to charge higher margins.  Custom Builders provide a much more personalised service whereby they partner with their clients working with them throughout the entire building process. The key advantage of working with a custom builder is that the design, budget, level of finish, time frame, and selections are all tailored specifically to the clients needs.  Custom builders are also much better equipped to deal with complexities relating to site and design as they approach each project on its merits as opposed to the standardised approach used by project builders.  

Niche/Specialist Builders

Niched or specialised Builders are custom builders who have decided to focus their business in one particular area (niche) in the marketplace.  For example a builder may choose to specialise in dual occupancy, luxury homes, eco-friendly homes, renovations etc. Builders who niche successfully are able to systemize parts of their business to suit their speciality and build a team of industry experts and consultants with specific knowledge and expertise.  When engaged for projects within their niche they generally provide an exceptional level of value, flexibility, service and quality.