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Interview process - renovation builders

5 mistakes homeowners make when interviewing renovation builders

Choosing a builder to work on your home is one of the most important decisions you can make. And the builder you choose can have a huge impact on the outcome of your renovation. Get it right and you’ll not only have a beautifully renovated home at the end, but you’ll have an enjoyable renovation experience that you can share with your friends. Get it wrong and you’ll, unfortunately, have a much different story to share. 

The best way to set yourself up for success is to get the most out of the renovation builders interview process so you can determine if the builder is going to be a good fit. During the process, avoid these top 5 mistakes that can stop you from finding the best builder for your home.

Interviewing renovation builders

Mistake #1 – Not asking enough questions

When meeting renovation builders it’s always good to go into it like it’s an actual interview. It doesn’t have to be formal where you wear your best Sunday outfit, but you do need to treat the meeting with each builder with a degree of respect and importance. After all, large scale renovations to your home can be one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, besides buying the house. The builder you choose to carry out the work can make or break your experience… both with the outcome and the journey along the way. 

So, with that in mind, put together a list of questions you would like to ask the builder during the interview. And remember, it’s far better to ask too many questions than not enough. You don’t want to leave the meeting wishing that you had asked more questions or did not get the answers you were looking for. 

It should also be noted here that listening to the answer is just as important as asking the question. Don’t get so caught up in asking the questions that you are not listening to what the builder has to say, but rather just waiting until there’s a gap to ask the next question.

We highly recommend you have your significant other or someone close to you during each interview so you can both get a feel for the builder. And there is nothing wrong with writing down notes throughout the meetings so you can be reminded of what was said. 

write a list

Mistake #2 – Not asking the right questions 

Just as important to asking enough questions is asking the right questions. After all, interviews with renovation builders is a fact-finding mission. So, while it may be good to shoot the breeze for a short amount of time to get a feel for the builder’s personality and communication style, it’s also important that you get the information you need from each meeting to make an informed decision. 

As noted above, it’s a good idea to have a list of prepared questions that are written down. That way you’re not relying on your memory at the time of the meeting. You can also use this list for the interviews with all the builders you plan on meeting. That way, you are comparing apples with apples. 

Some good questions to ask are: 

  1. Have you worked on projects similar to what I want to achieve? 
  2. Can you show me examples of past work? 
  3. Can you provide information about your experience? 
  4. How involved are you with our project? 
  5. What is your availability like right now? 
  6. How do you manage the renovation process? 
  7. What can we expect with communication throughout the project? 
  8. How do you manage the budget so there are no blowouts?
  9. What happens if we want to make changes along the way?  
Interview process - renovation builders

Mistake #3 – Not preparing before meeting renovation builders

A common quote that we refer to often is that “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”  and nothing is truer than when it comes to interviewing renovation builders. You want to get the absolute most out of the interview that you have with the builders and the time that you have with them. The best way to do this is to go into the meeting prepared.

This means putting together all the information and details you have available relating to your project. House plans are a good starting point. Even rough sketches of what you want to achieve will be beneficial.

If you’ve had engineering or site investigations completed or know about specific information relating to your house, then this information would be good to have available as well. The more information you can provide the better the information you are going to get back from the Builder.

Of course, a good renovation builder will be able to guide you on the information you will need, and even if you don’t have any plans or other info available, they will still be able to inspect your property and give you feedback and advice based on what they see. 

At the end of the day, it is always better to be over-prepared than underprepared. 

Mistake #4 – Focusing on the wrong information 

This is a big mistake that we often see within the industry when it comes to interviewing builders and requesting quotes… Homeowners will often only focus on the end price. And we get it, everyone has a budget and knowing you’ll be able to complete your renovation within budget is very important. But… And this is a big but… There are so many other factors you need to weigh up when interviewing renovation builders. 

The end price is one thing, but has the builder provided a full breakdown of costs? Do you know exactly what materials and finishes you are going to get or have they only provided vague information? (have they made an allowance for a toilet or have they specifically noted that you are going to get a Caroma back to wall toilet with a soft close seat?) The devil is always in the details and it pays to know everything upfront to avoid confusion and disappointment. 

Communication and project management are also important details to note and are often overlooked in favour of cheaper pricing. And these two things alone are going to have an enormous impact on your renovation experience. 

How will the builder manage the project? Who will be the main communication points for you while your home is being renovated? How much communication will you receive throughout the build and via what method? All this information you need to go through with the builder during your interviews and even better if the builder has outlined all this information for you in the proposal. 

renovation builders

Mistake #5 – Not doing adequate research on the renovation builders before meeting them

There’s plenty of research you can do before you even meet the renovation builders. This includes carrying out licence checks, reading online reviews and testimonials and looking at past projects as a starting point.

Just by looking at past projects completed by the builders you can get a feel for their workmanship and their style and get to know if they specialise in any areas. For example, if you have a heritage listed house, you might want to seek out a renovation builder that has the experience and knowledge in renovating a house with heritage features and need to comply with any heritage restrictions or guidelines.

It’s best to do your research on builders before you meet them. That way you can eliminate the ones that are simply not suitable before wasting time by meeting them. 

Remember, that the builder you choose for your renovation project can make or break your experience. When it comes to interviewing renovation builders, take your time, go through the same process with every builder, weigh up all the information and don’t forget to listen to your gut instinct. 
If you have questions or would like to book a renovation consultation with Walkom Constructions,  Give us a call today and let’s get the process started. Or download our free guide on everything you need to know before signing a building contract.