Looking for a Builder


Deciding to build a new home or development is stressful enough, without having to worry about builders ruining your experience. A few simple questions before you hire someone could save you a lot of heartache.

A good builder takes away a lot of the potential for frustration, whereas a not so good builder can turn your dream into a bottomless money pit nightmare.

We all heard stories about dodgy builders who skip corners, shirk responsibility, never return calls, everything is an extra and are generally a pain to deal with.

But if you’ve never dealt with a builder before how do you know where to start? What a good one from a bad one.  How can you feel secure that they will get the job done right the first time and help identify a potential cowboy?

Well start by asking builders  the following 10 questions.

1. Are you a licenced builder?

This is the first question you need to ask. Only ever work with licenced tradesmen. It may seem like an obvious point to reinforce but people either don’t ask or go with an unlicensed builder to save money. The results can be disastrous. Each state allows you to run a search on builders to check their licence, a simple Google search for ‘check a builder’s licence’ will get you started, please do it.

At time of publishing this post, here is the relevant link for Victoria ;


You should also ask them about the category of their registration. In general;

DBU – Unlimited , can do any domestic work and is fully qualified and experienced.

DBM- Manager, can manage/supervise most domestic work however must use registered trades in their field. A newly registered builder who generally meets the minimum qualifications but may not have extensive experience.

DBL – Limited, limited to their field of registration, eg Cabinet Maker/Joiner , Carpenter, Bricklayer, water proofer… etc.


2. Do you have Home Owner Warranty Insurance?

You can ask for their certificate of eligibility which is renewed annually. You need to make sure your builder issues you a Certificate of Currency for Home Owners Warranty Insurance before you pay them anything. This covers you for financial loss should the builder die, become insolvent or do a runner.


3. Are there any current or past building disputes registered with the relevant building commission or with Trades or Suppliers?

This will let you know about the builder’s general reliability and professionalism as well as the overall quality of their work.


4. Have you ever been declared bankrupt?

If your builder went belly-up at some point it may mean a quick eject button on your project should they not have the financial resources to finish the job.  A bankrupt company may pull the plug without warning leaving you stuck with a half built house and searching for a builder willing to complete the job.


5. Do you work in the same area I’ll be building?

It seems simple, yet many people don’t ask this question. Your builder may not be interested in building somewhere where they have to travel. The builder may also have to hire sub-contractors he’s not familiar with and these people may not be up to standard.


6. How long will the building maintenance period last?

A builder agrees to perform building maintenance for a period of time after the property is handed over to you. Most experts recommend a six month maintenance period for residential units and 12 to 18 months for commercial properties.


7. Who supervises the property construction?

This is important because the construction supervisor is the guy who keeps everyone honest. When a supervisor is onsite, higher quality work is performed. Look into this person’s track record including their past experiences and duration at current employer.


8. What about your trade base and its long-term employment?

A consistent and reliable trade base is essential to making certain the job will be high quality come what may.


9. Can we view your recently finished projects?

This is absolutely a no-brainer. You must be able to look at the builders’ recently completed work. This way you can see for yourself if the builder is doing the type of job you want for your home. Check out the quality of products used and the work completed. If possible, speak to the builders’ clients and get references. This way you can get feedback about customer experience and satisfaction. You’ll be surprised about how forthcoming people are with details.


10. What other projects will you be involved with while working on my house?

You don’t want the builder to be biting off more than they can chew. The more they can concentrate on your job, the fewer mistakes they will make and not to mention your project will be done faster.


And finally…

Remember, building a new home is a huge financial and emotional investment. Please take the extra time to do a thorough check on any prospective builder, their workmanship, references and credentials