Here are ten must ask questions to cover with your renovation designer/builder to make sure you get the renovation you’re after
1. How is the design and construction service integrated/delivered?
Traditionally, an architect or designer develops your renovation specifications/plans according to your budget and requirements. The project is then tendered out to potential builders for costings to undertake the works.
Alternatively, new breed renovation services provide a design and construct service under one roof as it reduces risk for the client by ensuring the build budget is more accurate. It’s a more collaborative approach and because the builder’s engaged during the design phase it reduces building phase issues that cause cost or time blowouts.
2. Who’s responsible for delivering your renovation?
Is it someone you meet early on to ensure you feel comfortable with them? Are they communicative, co-operative, well-trained, qualified and professional in their approach? What education and training have they undertaken when it comes to customer service on your renovation project? Have they learned how to work with customers from other tradesmen or have they undertaken training?
This might sound a little woolly but how well you relate to them will play a major role in the success of your renovation. Can you relate to each other? Does their logic make sense to you? Will you be able to discuss and resolve issues in a constructive way? Do they operate professionally with a focus on clear client communications?
If you have trouble relating to someone in the early stages, think seriously about how you’re going to proceed. Issues at the beginning of the relationship should sound a warning bell for the task ahead.
3. Are They A Registered Building Practitioner?
This is super important otherwise your renovation won’t have the insurances, warranties and protection you need in future years. You should also check that the builder has a Domestic Builder Unlimited (DBU) registration as DBL’s (Domestic Builder Limited) often aren’t permitted to work on unforseen issues such as sub floor issues should they arise unexpectedly during the works phase. You can check a builder’s registration at www.vba.vic.gov.au
4. Have they worked in your area before?
Make sure they’ve dealt with your local council and have an understanding of how the council officers operate. This will save you from having your renovation delayed any more than required.
5. What’s their renovation system?
Ask your renovation designer/builder to illustrate their systems to you. Is it documented and governed using purpose built, online technology? Or, do they just write it all down in the diary’?
6. Do they have a quality system in place that defines the entire process and the required standards for each stepjourney?
What tools will they offer you throughout the project to maintain clear communications?
Gone are the days of simple phone calls and multiple email threads to manage your renovation. History has proven that emails can get lost and phone calls aren’t always as reliable when things get hectic.
Check they have online technology that’s specifically built to convey, capture and record communications throughout the project to reduce mix ups throughout the process. This alone will make for a much happier outcome
7. What support do they offer once the job’s complete?
Do they undertake a check 90 days after the project’s finished or do they rely upon you to manage and raise quality issues once they’ve left site.
8. How do they select the people who work in your home?
Make sure people coming into your home are trained, registered, qualified and above all, trustworthy. How do they ensure their people tick all these boxes?
9. Do they have before and after photos of their work?
Before and after photos are the best way to determine how a person deals with particular spaces and issues. They reveal strengths and weaknesses that can be hard to see on paper how they reinvigorate and change the purpose of spaces.
10. Are they members of industry bodies?
Most industry bodies require a certain level of experience/education/expertise for membership. They also will most likely have certain compliance requirements. This way you’ll know you’re not dealing with a back yarder.
Asking these questions will dramatically improve the outcome of your renovation.
About The Author – Richard Armstrong is a Director of Melbourne firm, The Makeover Group specialising in adding value to homes through renovation. He’s undertaken innovative post graduate property valuation research to identify what enhancements add the most value to homes in specific Melbourne suburbs. Educated in design and property valuation, he is also a Registered Building Practitioner.