If your home has seen better days but you love your location – demolishing your house and starting with a blank canvas might be the best option over a remodel or renovation.
But it’s hard to know where to start when choosing the right company to build your dream home on your current site.
Here are the things you need to check off your list before your knock down rebuild project begins.
Tip #1 – Know What You’re Looking for in a Knock Down Rebuild Specialist
Knocking down your home to rebuild is a huge investment. You shouldn’t trust anyone responsible for demolition and construction, especially while you’re bearing the costs of disrupting your life by living in another dwelling during the process.
When looking for a contractor to help future-proof your home, there are certain things you should be on the lookout for.
Licensing and insurance
Unless they work on minor repairs or handyman-type maintenance, your builder needs a licence to operate in New South Wales. This legal requirement ensures they have the appropriate skills and qualifications to complete the work to standard. Builders are required by law to provide their licence number on all advertising material. However, even if you can see they have one, it’s still a good idea to check with NSW Fair Trading to ensure your builder has no conditions or restrictions on their licence.
A licence also ensures they have appropriate insurance should anything go wrong. Your builder should provide you with a certificate for home building compensation (HBC) cover before you provide them with a deposit to begin work. This insurance protects homeowners if building work can’t be completed or defects fixed.
Experience and references
The references a knockdown rebuild specialist can give shouldn’t be limited to their previous clients. Materials suppliers, trade contractors, financial partners, and other colleagues can all provide perspective on a builder’s level of experience and professionalism.
Affiliations with regulatory bodies or advisory organisations show your builder has a high level of professionalism and they value staying abreast of industry standards and accreditation. For example, there are Master Builders associations in each state. Build Australia has a list of associations that contribute to the construction industry here.
Communication and customer service
How your contractor answers your initial query and follow-up questions likely sets the tone for how they will operate through the knock down rebuild process. With all the problems that can arise in these sorts of projects, you will need someone who directly answers your questions and gets back to you quickly.
Who will you be communicating with throughout your building journey? It will probably not be the lovely sales consultant you spoke to initially. Who will give you updates? The builder, a project manager, or another team worker?
Tip #2 – Prepare Questions for Your Builder Ahead of Time
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of knock down rebuild experts, seek as much information as possible about the building process of each company so you can compare the pros and cons. How they work and what you can get for your money can depend on the company size you choose and how willing they are to be flexible.
What is your timeline for the building process?
Ask your potential builder to take you through a timeline of the building process and ask them how each stage is handled and by whom. For example, do they take care of applying for the necessary council permits and council approval required for demolition and building? Don’t forget to ask them about unforeseen delays and who will cop the cost of these, because they can and do happen.
It’s essential to understand what will happen if the timeline is thrown out by unforeseen weather events or problems during demolition. For example, in an older property, asbestos can be found in roof materials and old tiles, which can be hidden until demolition begins. Removing it is a specialised service and therefore, an added expense. It also means your demolition can’t proceed until further steps are taken.
Can you give me an accurate cost estimate for the project?
Homeowners need to have their finances in order so they can have a good idea of a realistic budget before the home design process even begins. Speaking to your bank and having your paperwork in order should happen before you approach a builder.
What are your inclusions?
It’s also essential to nail down each knock down rebuild specialist on what is an ‘inclusion’ and what is an ‘addition’ or ‘upgrade’. What are the finishes and fixtures they include as standard? They can mean very different things to each company.
There’s no point settling for a porch when you want a full deck—or leaving a window where it’s not wanted. From the roof right down to siding or cladding, flooring and taps, get clear on what you want before signing the dotted line.
Be sure to ask your builder about inclusions. Don’t be afraid to mention as many things as you can think of at your initial consultation. For example, does your garage include an automatic door as standard? You don’t want to be surprised about what’s included in your package and what’s not when it’s too late to budget for your non-negotiables. Be creative, and you can find more ways to save on a knock down rebuild.
Do you have examples of your home designs?
You know your block of land like the back of your hand and have plenty of ideas for designs, the floor plan, and the details you want to see in your new home. But can your builder accommodate customised plans, or do they just work with set designs? Are there a certain number of changes you can make to the plan or are they unlimited?
A soil test is usually one of the first things your designer will need to understand what they are working with. The results of these could also add constraints to the building process. You are probably very familiar with all the quirks of your site, so now’s the time to get specific about the design of your new home and how you want to customise it. Changes to home designs can add thousands to the price, so it’s best to make them before the building begins.
Do you offer a warranty and after-sales service?
Keep in mind that many knockdown rebuild building companies offer a warranty on new structures, and some materials carry their warranties, too. It’s also worth asking about how your builder will respond to repairs and maintenance needs after your rebuild. Check if this is included in your contract.
Tip #3 – Verify Your Builder’s Qualifications
A little bit of research goes a long way when it comes to verifying a company’s credentials.
- Look for online reviews and testimonials
You may be able to find testimonials from homeowners on the company website. Google is your friend when finding out what others think about their rebuilds. Was the process a smooth one? If it wasn’t, how did the builder handle any hurdles?
- Ask for a portfolio of projects and visit previous work
This is a crucial step before you decide to research their past work. If they have one, visit their display home for inspiration and to check the quality of their work in person. If they don’t have display homes, ask for the address of previous knock-down rebuild houses so that you can drive by and check if their build style matches what you are looking for.
Schedule a consultation
Once you’ve decided a contractor could work for your knock down rebuild project, it’s time to schedule a consultation so that you can get further advice and get to know them in person. Does your meeting start on time? Does your builder seem professional when you meet them face-to-face? Do all the necessary preparations and use the meeting to build a relationship with your builder before your project starts.
The whole point of employing a knockdown rebuild specialist is to improve your space and lifestyle. If you love the area where you live but not your house, call your local knock down rebuild specialist, Vision Homes. They are small enough to give you personalised service but large enough to ensure your perfect home can become a reality.