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Selecting builder for first construction

Discussion in 'General Property Chat' started by docplus, 19th Mar, 2016.

  1. docplus

    docplus Member

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    Hi guys,

    I am looking for advice/guidance/suggestions on selecting a builder for my first ever construction project.

    Our few previous properties have been established properties. This is the first time we are trying to build a property. We have a land in South West Sydney, Camden council. Lot size 451sqm. We are planning to build a single storey house with an attached granny flat as IP.

    Having started the journey to decide on a builder, our thought is to go with one of the fairly known project builders hoping that the process will be a little more smooth than the lesser known (hence difficult to check credibility) small/mid size builders.

    We are time poor as well as have limited experience and hence do not expect to be able to a great job in monitoring the project closely. We are keen to learn from this first project. We understand that we will have to pay a premium for this but willing to take that hit to some extent.

    Having discussed with a few (10+) project builders, following 4 are being considered:
    • Beechwood
    • Fowler
    • Metricon
    • Sekisui
    The main reason to select these builders are based on their availability of standard designs which can be modified to fit a GF to our requirement and to some extent the cost. I will like consider the factor of their speed of execution but I guess it is very difficult to know or predict.

    My experience with Beechwood sales office till now has been very good. They seem to be the only one offering a free tender. They have been very responsive with all our requests of amendments in layouts till now. However, I have read quite a bit of negative reviews about their delivery process. Does anybody here have any experience or information on them?

    The other 3 builders require tender fee, which I am yet to pay.

    Any suggestion/advise on these builders or about other builders will be great. We will like to move as quickly as possible to sign up a contract.

    Have a good day.
     
  2. jippa3000

    jippa3000 Member

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    Hi @docplus

    As I am from Melbourne I am not sure about all the builders but do know Metricon and Sekisui are quite big builders.

    From my experience as you are time poor I would be looking for a smaller builder that offer ONE consultant from design to contracts as this will save A LOT of head ache in the long run.

    With a large builder they will not care if timelines are not met and will struggle to get back to you. The smaller builders will be happy to help you with your change and most likely won't charge like wounded bulls to do so.

    Just my 2 cents but I do believe you will have a better experience.

    Good luck
     
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  3. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @docplus
    Just built with Metricon. Yet to see how it goes but we love the house.

    We liked everything apart from the attitude of our site manager. He didn't have people skills.

    Our build took more than 9 months including rain days. Likely due to the building boom in Sydney. Most trades are really busy.

    @monalisa, my twin sis was all over the build and will post on here. She has seen one of the others you mention.
     
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  4. John Keith Wood

    John Keith Wood New Member

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    Hi Docplus,

    from my experience a critical component to the success of your build is the calibre of the supervisor who the building company will provide to manage your build.

    I suggest once you shortlist builders down to a couple, that you get some further details of the site supervisor. Even get details of recent previous projects and if possible client contact details so you can ask how the site supervisor is to deal with.

    Ideally you want someone with good contracting experience who can manage his trades efficiently but also someone who has good communication and people skills as he will be the guy you will likely deal with on-site.

    Communication will be key.

    Good luck and look forward in hearing how you go.

    Regards
     
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  5. docplus

    docplus Member

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    @jippa3000
    Thanks for your input.
    While smaller builders offer more flexibility, my concerns are in few areas.
    1. They will take substantial time in coming up with a design as they will have to start from scratch, even if I give a draft layout. They don't tend to have any (or few) standard designs to choose from. This itself may be time consuming, especially when time is a factor I am considering. One of my main selection criteria of major builders have been their availability of standard design, which we can use with minor changes.
    2. I have an impression that smaller developers are unpredictable with their build time management. It can be faster but if things go wrong, their ability to manage situation is much worse and can lead to much more drawn out timeline. It is the unpredictability, which worries me.
    3. In Sydney I am hearing from a few friends, who are building with smaller builders, how things are going wrong due to builders taking on much more than they can chew. In the boom time it is easy to take on business but without the depth of organisation it is difficult to grow and manage the business. As @MsAli said, it is a problem of boom time with shortage of tradies... but the bigger builders are able to manage the problem slightly better than the smaller builders.
    However, I am keen on using some smaller builder for my next project, which I will address soon.

    @John Keith Wood : Any idea how I can details of site supervisor? Do the builders tell you that till you reach the build stage?
     
  6. docplus

    docplus Member

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    @MsAli
    Thanks for your input. I have just engaged Metricon for a tender yesterday. Completely agree on the problem of tradie shortage in Sydney, which is likely to continue this year. Interestingly, Metricon informed us yesterday that their defined build period (after contract is signed) in contract is 28 weeks which is about 6.5 months. Their expectation of signing the When you said 9 months, did you mean the actual build period or that includes the tender/contract period as well?


    Will look forward to hear from @monalisa for more details.
     
  7. docplus

    docplus Member

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    Internet search for builder reputation gets flooded by the site productreview.com.au.
    Are there any other reliable sites to check on feedback about builders?
     
  8. docplus

    docplus Member

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    I am very keen to hear feedback about anybody's build experience with Beechwood. WIll very much appreciate it in case anybody on this forum have inputs.
     
  9. monalisa

    monalisa Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @docplus
    Hi!

    I have seen Beechwood homes, and I don't think you can compare it to Metricon - just based on the display homes, Metricon are much better quality - I am not sure re Beechwood pricing, but Metricon are more expensive than some of the other project home builders.

    Product reviews website is genuine, as people need to submit a copy of an invoice or contract to submit a review - and Metricon has some great feedback.

    On the other hand - as there is a building boom on currently, there is a shortage of trades, and I do know there are people with really slow builds for this reason. 28 weeks build time sounds awesome - our contract was 32 weeks - but this doesn't include rain and 5 weeks Xmas shut down period. Is 28 weeks due to the size of the home you are building? Note 32 weeks did not include the tender, contract signing, approvals, drafting of plans, colours etc! This was on top of the 32 weeks. The 32 week clock starts ticking once M start the site work.

    If you end up getting a few tenders, you can always ask the builder you select to credit you tender fees paid to the other builder.

    Feel free to PM me for any questions.

    Do report back on how you go!

    Good luck!
     
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  10. beachgurl

    beachgurl Well-Known Member

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    The process from tender to council approval usually takes longer than the build itself. And the larger the builder, the longer it takes as they outsource pretty much every stage of the paperwork.

    Some contracts will not include your "colour" appointment, which is when you select all of your fixtures, fittings, bricks etc. they will very much try the up sell. Ensure that your tender includes flooring too. You are comparing oranges and apples when it comes to tenders.

    We nearly built with Fowler a few years back. The paperwork process was painful. We backed out before we got to council. Have you considered Wincrest or Wisdom? I liked both of these companies.

    As for site supervisors it is the luck of the draw. And there's not guarantee you will have the same supervisory throughout the project.
     
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  11. melbournian

    melbournian Well-Known Member

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    Isn't Metricon a volume builder? Build with them nearly 8 years ago. Not sure how it is done in Sydney but 9 months Is a very long time to build a home for a volume builder even with all the paperwork etc. I have seen custom homes with complex designs of 300sqm homes take less than 6 months. Go for builders that have a guaranteed build period inclusive of delays rain which should take anything between 8-14 weeks. Anything longer than that is up for penalties which is standard even for hia contracts. 400 or more per week minus off ur on final payment. All volume builders I know in Melbourne share carpenters and trades so it is really up to which site supervisor u get. The only thing that safeguards u is having your own private building inspector at each stage of the build. U can include that in ur contract and some construction home loans even specify for it to be included.
     
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  12. sanj

    sanj Well-Known Member

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    8 weeks???
     
  13. monalisa

    monalisa Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    We got a tender from Win.....

    Unfortunately, we did not have a great experience.

    Whichever builder you choose.... make sure they spell out everything. ... if they don't how do you know what you will get at the end?
     
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  14. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Also definitely include generous provision amounts in your tender/contract for:
    • Electricals with the builder (things that you need to get thru the builder's electrician contractors)
    • Flooring
    • Anything else?
    ...as you are likely to upgrade unless it's a cookie cutter build

    Ensure you have the following written quotes available at the start for your lender and valuer:
    • Blinds and security doors
    • Landscaping and driveway (do your research before committing to funding)
    • S94 contributions
    • Council bond
    • Electricals (post handover) + labour
     
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  15. melbournian

    melbournian Well-Known Member

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    Yup there is a mob called eight homes which also builds houses 160-180sqm for prices ending with the 8 numbers in 8 weeks upon issue of building permit guaranteed completion time
     
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  16. melbournian

    melbournian Well-Known Member

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    As volume builders have so many builds - they will allocate the site superviors based on their schedules as oppose to custom builders who really have set staff that they use.

    I think in my opinion - for the first time construction - it is always important to have penalties in the contracts (if the build time exceeds the the contracted time to build). Many inexperienced developers get caught out as without penalties, they will definitely drag their feet which really means dead money as no rent is coming in. Also get them to connect all the services (and pay for the utilities (water, electricity) ) until handover, private building inspectors at each stage (i once had plumber's apprentices cutting corners- they did not dig a deep enough hole for stormwater pipes and try to cover it up with mulch which was instantenously picked up by the inspector) once they received the inspectors report- they legally have to fix it.
     
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  17. Tenex

    Tenex Well-Known Member

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    I have recently gone through this process and spent the good part of past 6 months learning some expensive lessons.

    There is a lot to be learned, far more than what a topic can handle but here are some thoughts:


    You only want to go with a project builder due to their price. That should be your only reason. Pretty much on all other accounts (comparing like for like of course) boutique builders are better.

    In selecting a builder your number one priority should be how comfortable you can communicate with them. I dont mean the sales person, I mean the actual builder / site forman / the guy that is going to manage your project from start to finish. Can you communicate with them? will you be able to resolve a dispute with them? if not, move on.

    Ask to talk to that guy before you commit to anything.

    Dont fall for the "we charge for the tender" scam. You are about to spend a lot of money and if they cant at least give you a prelim tender and be happy to put you in touch with the guy who is going to do your project, without you paying them first, then run and dont look back.

    Good luck.
     
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  18. Leo2413

    Leo2413 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Tenex Great point mate. I agree its crucial. Can severely affect a project if there are huge issues in this area.
     
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  19. monalisa

    monalisa Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Not sure if builders allow for you to speak to the site manager for your area.

    Ours was difficult to communicate with .... but in the end he delivered. Pleasing methods or pleasing results? While annoying at the time - we are glad to have had pleasing results.
     
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  20. melbournian

    melbournian Well-Known Member

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    If it is a spec or custom builder you should be able to speak to anyone as the owner of the property to see where it is. I wouldn't worry abt communications If it is the Burbanks, AV Jennings, Metricon etc leave it to the private building inspector at each stage to sort it out legally and withhold the stage payments if not fixed while the build time ticks as On the builder and collect your difference at the last payment stage. My friend just shaved off 10k of his build price in the final payment just recently. Any build which takes longer than 6 months build time is really lack of management on the builder with his trades. If you were building and selling to a purchaser the purchaser could penalise u with the delays