The inside word

By Laura Hall

The Canterbury building industry is changing at a rapid pace right now, keeping up with these changes is near impossible.

If you are embarking on the building process and have felt overwhelmed by the massive number of building companies to choose from, or had a burning question you wanted to ask a reputable builder you are probably not alone.

Horncastle Homes managing director, Bill Horncastle is bridging the gap between building companies and the rest of us by sharing valuable information on how to choose a builder and the common mistakes to look out for.
How should people choose a building company?
Choosing a right builder will make the difference between enjoying the whole experience or wishing you had decided not to build.

Researching the shortlist of building companies is the best approach.  Talk to recent customers that have built and don’t be afraid to ask the builder for names of recent customers for you to talk with.

How long has the building company been in business? Who is behind the business and what is their reputation? Look at some of the homes that they have built. Check social media websites as well as often you will find reviews from customers.

What questions should people ask a building company before signing?
Confirm that the agreement includes a full specification of what is included and make sure that it is a true fixed priced agreement.  Check for hidden costs.

Ask for a clear outline of build times and who and how your build will be managed and the experience of your project manager.

Ask for evidence of their build warranty and what is included and how any maintenance issues will be managed and for what period.

Take independent advice before signing.

What are the latest trends and styles in new home builds?
There are always new trends emerging and a good building company should be able to give you sound advice of latest trends.

Energy efficient homes, good use of indoor outdoor living to maximise space in a home, while being economical in the design are noticeable trends.  The customer is looking for best value in design and cost and with the right designer and builder this can be achieved.

What is the biggest misconception people hold about building companies?
It would be that building companies only offer one solution. While this maybe true about most, the building companies that can offer a range of solutions will be the ones that will continue to grow.

As an example Horncastle Homes not only offers design and build, but we can fund the land purchase and the build for customers on five percent deposits which is paid to a solicitor trust account offering full protection to the purchaser.

We can also place them in a rental home while they build through our property management company which takes away the stress of finding somewhere to live while they build and we also offer a free service for property investors. All of this and more is all available through one office.
What is the biggest mistake people make when building a home?
If they are working with an experienced sales consultant and a reputable builder then major mistakes should not happen. What I have noticed is that sometimes a client can compromise quality over cost. Going with the cheapest builder will always have a cost and it could reflect the future value of your home.

How has the Canterbury building industry changed since the earthquakes and what should people be aware of?
Since the earthquakes there has been an influx of new builders entering the market. The new entrants often do not have the experienced labour or resources to build quality homes as the best resources are already working for established building companies.

What is clearly noticeable are the number of complaints in the market with regard to quality workmanship, build time promises and unfortunately an increasing number of companies under capitalised which has the risk of those businesses failing.
Do people have realistic expectations about what their budget will cover?
Yes I believe they do.  The build customer today is well educated on build costs and remember many Christchurch people have had years of dealing with insurance claims and quantity surveyors making estimates on their repairs and rebuilds, and in a way forced them to learn more about the costs associated with building.

A reputable building company will also be transparent on costs so the customer has a clear understanding of what they will get for their budget to build.

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