Choosing A Builder

The choice of a builder will be influenced by the size and type of project.

If it is a new house, do you choose a project home or a custom builder? A remodelling project (ie. renovations, alterations and additions) for instance, usually requires a different level of experience and expertise to blend the old with the new.

Residential builders in WA are required to be registered. So whether you choose a project home builder or you are referred to a builder by friends you must ensure the name of that builder is associated with a current registration and endorsed for the work (e.g. General Building Work) you intend to have undertaken. If there is no licence, then immediately scratch the name from the list.

Below is a general checklist which you can use as part of your preparations for choosing a builder. The most important thing to remember is to ask questions at any stage, particularly if you are unsure about any decisions or changes.

  • Be precise about the project details and your expectations of the builder. Ensure you have detailed plans and specifications;
  • Obtain information from your local council about zoning regulations, requirements and building approvals. Your Council website can be found at walga.asn.au/about_lg/council_websites;
  • Only deal with a builder who is licensed (builders.wa.gov.au);
  • Look to see if your builder is a member of the Master Builders Association and also to see whether they have won any Master Builders’ Awards for the quality of their building work or customer service;
  • Make sure you have plans and specifications for builders to quote on, if the builder doesn’t do the plans for you. Or choose a designer first.
  • Familiarise yourself with the fundamental legal obligations and jargon, to feel comfortable openly talking with your builder;
  • Select only three or four builders to quote on your project;
  • In comparing building prices or quotations, make sure that you are comparing “apples with apples”.  Building prices can vary due to different types and grades of materials specified, or because of certain exclusions or inclusions in the price;
  • WA has mandatory home warranty insurance for works over $20,000;
  • Any concerns you have should be raised with the builder immediately;
  • Try to be contactable at all times, thereby allowing your builder to discuss any issues and make a quick decision;
  • Any variations, extra work or omissions should be made in writing and signed by you – the client – and the builder. Expect requests for extra work to be an additional charge;

WA has stringent safety laws, so expect the builder to make regular site visits; and Ask about the accessibility of builder during construction – if a problem arises, can you contact the builder at short notice? How regularly will the builder or supervisor update you on the work programme?