The vast majority of things that go wrong on any building contract occur because of the choices that you make when appointing your builder. If you are owner building and planning to hire a building contractor or are subcontracting parts of the project, make sure you know everything you need to know. Ask the right questions, have a checklist ready and choose wisely.
You cannot be too careful when choosing a contractor or subcontractor, go the extra mile and make sure that you feel confident that you have chosen wisely before you start building.
Finding A Builder:
* Check in local publications, newspapers and My Little Black Book for builders who advertise their services. They are more likely to be reputable and contactable.
* Look around your neighbourhood for builders currently working on projects and chat to the home owners and get their opinion on them.
* Get referrals from your architect. (See:- Choosing an Architect)
* Get referrals from friends and associates.
* Shortlist at least three builders from whom you can obtain quotes.
Check Your Builder’s Credentials:
* Obtain and check the potential builder’s references. Obtain the addresses and contact numbers of at least three previous projects that he has worked on. Do not appoint any builder who is unable to supply you with contactable references.
* Ask for information on the project that he is currently busy with. Visit the site and speak to the owner. If the builder is in financial difficulty on that project then chances are that he needs your project to finance the completion of that one.
* Find out if your builder is registered with either the Master Builder’s Association or NHBRC or any other association.
* Make sure that you have your builder’s business and residential addresses and full contact details.
* Check that your builder has a valid insurance policy in place to adequately cover the project and personal liability.
* Find out who your builder gets his main building material supplies from and check on his credit-worthiness with that supplier.
* Check if a Health and Safety Plan is required for your project and whether your builder is able to produce and comply with one. (Ask your Architect) (See:- The Health & Safety Act and You, the Home Builder)
* Check the registration details of the electrical sub-contractor and the plumbing sub-contractor that your builder will be using with their respective associations. This is very important. Electricians who are not registered with the Electrical Contracting Board of S.A. are not permitted to sign an Electrical Compliance Certificate. You can contact the Electrical Contracting Board on the following telephone numbers:
Cape Town 021 462 2690
Bloemfontein 051 447 0859
Port Elizabeth 041 363 1990
Natal 031 312 6313
Pretoria 012 342 3248
Johannesburg 011 392 0000
Pricing Your Contract:
* It is wise to present your short-listed builders with a drawing, a specification and a pricing schedule. This will ensure that the quotes can easily be compared. Your architect can assist you in this regard.
* Be aware of items that have been deliberately excluded by the builder from his quote. You will have to install and pay for those items yourself. Check if that item is excluded from the other quotes as well so that a proper comparison can be made.
* Obtain rates from your builder in his quote for items that you may wish to extend during the contract.
* Avoid lump sum quotes. Having a breakdown of the various items gives you better control and a better basis for comparison.
* Be aware of provisional cost items with regard to the quality of those items. The specification should cover most of this. If the specification does not cover items like taps, for instance, make sure that your builder has priced a reasonable quality product in his quote.
Appointing Your Builder:
* Apart from the quote that your builder will give you, which you will be expected to sign, make sure that you have a valid building contract signed by your builder and yourself in place. (See:- A Building Contract – Do I Need One?)
* Make sure that you have a payment schedule worked out before you sign any contracts. (See:- Paying your Builder.)
You will be investing a lot of money in your building project. Protect yourself and follow the advice given in this article and make your project a good experience instead of a nightmare.