A guide to choosing the best contract for you
Team up with the right builder for you; and do your research! There are many fantastic local builders around, but not everyone is a perfect fit. Communication is key to a successful renovation. Your builder is the one who is going to take your ideas and (quite literally) build them into a reality. Take the time to meet with a few – we usually recommend 3 if possible. If you are a couple, make sure that you are both involved in the process of choosing which builder feels right for you. You are a team on this one (even when it feels like quite the opposite). Trust me when I say that you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and arguments if you both feel confident in communicating with your builder. If you have a good builder, they might also be able to mediate and offer another perspective if you are both unable to agree on a feature, so you should both feel that your voices have been heard. Each builder will have different assets and ideas to offer, and you will be spending a lot of time with this person over the coming months so make sure they are the right pick!
Make a budget. Battling between what you want, what you need and what you can realistically afford can be a challenge for everyone – even those flush with cash. Work with a designer or architect that can help you achieve the right scope of works for you and your budget. Most good builders should be able to recommend a designer/architect for you and if they can recommend someone that they have experience working with, it can mean that everyone is on the same page. Be honest about what you can and can’t afford, and be open in these conversations. Prioritise what you and your family will benefit from the most: an additional bathroom and bedroom, more living space, or a pool for the kids. Be clear about what are necessities and what are not in order to maximise your budget.
The In Between Period
Where will you live? This is a big one. Have you decided whether or not you will find temporary accommodation? Living through a renovation can seem like it will save a lot of money, but can be a very stressful (and very dusty) experience. In some cases, living off site during construction will make the renovation process easier and faster and can ultimately save you money in the long run. Your builder will be able to focus on getting your renovation finished instead of creating a liveable home at the end of each day, which can be labour intensive and cost you in the long run. Talk to your builder about what he would recommend and explore your options.
Fixed contract or cost plus contract?
There is no hard and fast rule with this one, and it is a very personal choice. Ask your builder to explain the difference and the benefits of both just like we’ve done for our clients. Learn what will suit you and your needs best, and what you feel most comfortable with.
Do you have a deadline? Do you want the renovation to be finished by Christmas so that you can have Chrissy drinks with the family on your new deck? Be open with your builder from the very beginning about your expectations so that this can be factored into the works. Get to know how long the planning and construction phases will take. We recommend that you ask your builder for a construction schedule with regular updates to help you plan your renovation, and help you avoid any nasty surprises!
Here is a recap of how to get started:
- Team up with the right builder for you
- Make a budget
- Decide where you will live throughout the reno
- Choose the right contract for you
- Think about a deadline
This is such an exciting time and an opportunity to let your creative juices flow – getting off to a good start will make all the difference in the long run and is a simple recipe for success.