Looking to renovate but unsure what to look for when researching your commercial builder?
Here are a few key things to look for when you are making that crucial decision:
There are so many facets in this “cliché” answer but to be more specific. This is about having experience:
- Business experience – how long have they been in the industry? How stable is the business?
- Portfolio of similar works.
- Working in your industry or a similar industry.
- Experience working to a plan and budget.
We flesh this out further below:
It is common for new businesses to go through a lot of teething problems in the first 2-3 years. After this point they would have established administration and communication processes as well as financial stability.
Experience in similar works –
This would aid how a building project should be done and how long task will take to complete. A Great builder could tell you work arounds for each problem because of their experience in similar works. They would know correct materials and products various industries bases on similar work experience. For example, the process for renovating a childcare/school is different to how you would approach a domestic build. The building process is the same, but the industry rules and regulations dictates types of material and staging processes.
You want a company that is confident in leading your building project from beginning to end. Someone who has a wealth of knowledge in the event that something does go wrong. You want to know they are capable of problem-solving and coming up with alternatives based on their experience. This way you’re not left to do the research and making uninformed decisions. This could impact the build time and/or budget. And if it does you want someone you can trust to know what the BEST methods and process is.
Experience working to a plan and budget
Essentially this is part of project management and plays a big part of the success of a project build or renovation. Ask the questions or get the referees to get feedback on how your builder has performed.
2. Having a great support team
Building on a project can be a very frustrating and stressful process if you don’t hire the right company. The actual build is only one aspect of the project or renovation. A great building company have a strong team supporting the builder. Ideally, you want the main builder to focus on the build and lead their team on site while utilising their support team to;
- order equipment,
- price any variations or new jobs for the company so your builder hasn’t pulled away from the site too often
- Coordinate orders
- Look after finances
- Have a project manager or key contact for running the project and whom the builders answer to for costs, and timeline changes.
By delegating these tasks to another team member you’re minimising future issues and frustrations for both you and your builders.
So, take a look at the organisational structure what support does the project team have. Understand how the business runs to ensure they have the right support team to benefit your build. Remember not all building companies have all these roles separated or inhouse but they should have the process in place.
3. Communication skills
Like any service, the style in communication either verbally, or non-verbal is key to the success of a building renovation project. This then translates to the level of trust and repour you have with your chosen builder team or company. This is important because without a certain level of trust you won’t have the confidence in your builders to complete the job.
The style of communication is all preferential, and as a previous client has previously highlighted “if it feels right, then its right for you”.
Another factor to consider is how transparent they are with the process to cater to your level of “need to know” knowledge of the process.
You could be the type of client that is familiar with the building process so you will want to understand what materials are used, provide a spec sheet and approve the material. You could be the type of client where you aren’t interested in micromanaging so just knowing the process and getting the cliff notes of progress is important. Or you could be the client who only wants to know that it’s on a budget (or under) and is on time for a project on the agreed completion date.
How much information you need or want is up to you and should be considered at the beginning when establishing that relationship with your builder/ building company.
4. Licences and Qualifications
A great builder is fully licenced and qualified. It’s not that your general handyman can’t do the work – they probably can to an extent. But there are certain assurances that come with having a qualified and licenced builder. For starters, they have accountability if things go wrong. Second, you have a way to escalate this to a builder’s tribunal. Additionally, as mentioned above a great builder would be covered by insurance.
Thirdly, some building works or renovations require a qualified and licenced builder to get certification or building approvals. Do check into this before considering who you bring on for your next project.
A great builder is fully insured. You want to know that your building company can cover damages to your property or someone else’s. Whether it’s through liability or Public Indemnity insurance. Find out what the insurance is for, when the insurance expires and what value it covers. You want to know that you are completely covered should an accident occurs while onsite either by the builder or the subcontractors that builders bring on site.
Another insurance policy is a work cover policy that protects you in the event of any injuries on site.
6. A forward Planner
Something you will come to appreciate when you are in the planning phase and in the middle of your project renovation is a project Gantt chart (also known as a project timeline, a programme or a schedule). This gives you a clear step by step guide of what your builders need to do in order to complete the works. It also helps them forward plan what materials they will need ahead of the build so that you are not held up in the building process.
By hiring a company that pride itself on planning ahead you are giving yourself that much more support and clarification on the timeline. This reduces issues that could arise with timing and budget.
Why money should only be a factor at the end of this criteria?
We know that money is KING when it comes to building however make sure that your choices have all the above before making comparisons which will help ensure that your builder:
- Has the necessary experience for your type of job, has worked in your industry and has a lot of business stability.
- Has a great support team that allows you the peace of mind that the job is going to get completed smoothly.
- Is easy to communicate with – someone that can meet your style of communication, and will be able to complete works to budget by having someone internally monitoring and controlling spend, or who can guarantee a set rate.
- Fully qualified and has the right license according to the level your build requires.
- Fully insured to cover liability- liability insurance to cover any damage and work cover to cover any site injuries.
- Is a forward planner and can supply you with a clear plan of action to give you the confidence that they can complete works on time and on budget.
The last thing you want to do is hire someone who promises you a $ value but miscalculates and needs to increase the price (known as a variation), or stretches out work timelines or goes bankrupt while they are on the job. So be diligent, take your time researching and compare apples for apples.