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What to Look for in a Custom Home Builder

If you asked everyone that’s ever built a custom home before “what is the single most important thing to get right”, the most resounding answer would have to be “choose the right builder”.

With so much relying on getting this one single decision right, it’s enough to make even the most experienced renovators, designers and architects apprehensive to settle on a builder—that’s why we’ve compiled this list to help you distinguish the true craftsmen from the imitators.

1.   Service

Almost all of us consider ourselves to be time-poor, so the prospect of having to oversee and coordinate a complex bespoke home build on top of an already busy schedule can seem more than just a little overwhelming.

To make the process of building a custom home simpler, look for a builder who offers either an in-house design service or has solid working relationships with architects or home designers.

Choosing a builder who offers an end-to-end design-and-build service not only means you’ll have a single point of contact, but it also makes it easier for your builder and the architect to collaborate at every stage of the process.

Both your builder and architect will be across the brief with an in-depth understanding of what you want to achieve, and it will also make accurately costing the project at an early stage a much easier task.

2.   Communication

It’s also important that you feel comfortable enough to communicate openly and honestly with your builder.

Building a custom home can certainly come with its stressors, but if you select a builder that understands your vision and is willing to go the extra mile to accommodate your requests, you’ll be far more likely to breeze through the process without encountering any hiccups.

The time to put them to the test is during your initial discussions—don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and even throw out some slightly left-of-centre requests to see how they respond. If they’re lacking enthusiasm, putting up roadblocks or you feel they’re not adequately answering your questions, that’s a red flag that they might not the right builder for your project.

3.   Portfolio

While there are never any guarantees, past performance is usually a good indicator of future performance. To give you an idea of whether a builder will be able to meet the design brief and build your home to the required standard, it can help to look through their portfolio of previous work.

This will give you an indication of the type of work they are most comfortable with and whether they are experienced working within your chosen style. For example, if you’re undertaking a heritage restoration project but the builder typically works on contemporary new home builds, they may not have the skill required to take on a project like yours.

4.   Reliability

Time and budget blowouts can present a major issue when building a new home. Finding somewhere suitable for your family to live while the build drags on can be difficult, while the additional pressure of managing a financial blowout can be extremely stressful.

When considering a builder, it’s worthwhile doing some investigation into how they approach projects—ask them: how they’ll manage your project, including any external suppliers or contractors; how they’ll prioritise your work alongside any other projects they’re working on; how they’ll ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget; and how they’ll keep you updated throughout the build.

Clarify what your preferred frequency and channels of communication are early in the piece and establish an agreed timeline for the build, including any required contingency plans to avoid issues down the track. If your expectations in terms of management, timing or communication don’t align with that of your builder, they may not be a good fit.

It’s also integral that the builder provides you with a detailed quotation for the build. Only by investing the time to fully understand your brief and visiting the site to conduct a site assessment will they be able to accurately scope the project at quote stage to avoid variations and cost blowouts. Getting this right is what will set the foundation for a good build and a lasting relationship.

5.   Experience

Some knowledge can only be gained through experience. By choosing a builder who has a long history of working on projects on every scale and in every context, you can directly benefit from the lessons they’ve learnt along the way.

Starting out as a family-run business, APC Build has been a stalwart on the Melbourne home construction and renovation landscape for three generations. We’ve had the time that’s needed to become true craftsmen and refine our knowledge of bespoke construction, equipping us to add value to any type of build.

Our experience has provided us a unique capability to accurately quote construction projects from a very early stage—something which is instrumental to ensuring you get the most out of your investment.

Our transparent quotation process provides a complete and detailed breakdown showing exactly where your money is going. Then with our expert advice and guidance, we work you through our value management process to help you achieve the home and finish you want, while staying on budget.

With three generations of experience building everything from bespoke homes and multi-residency projects to conducting major renovations and extensions (including within a heritage context) across Melbourne, we have the know-how to help you create something that is truly exceptional.

Curious to find out more? Get to know the team, view our portfolio of previous work or simply contact us to find out how we can add value to your project.

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