Are you in the process of selecting a townhouse builder for your residential property development? And want to make sure you appoint the right one with confidence?

Well, stick around because, in this article, I share 11 questions you must ask before you commit. So you can sign the contract with the confidence you’ve nailed it.

Selecting your builder. Particularly a specific type, such as dual occupancy builders, is one of the most critical parts of your development journey

First and foremost, you need a builder that promptly delivers you a premium product. 

questions to ask a builder

This sounds simple, but I can assure you it isn’t. You will need to do some heavy lifting to ensure that you get this right. You need to be development ready.

You’ll also need to partner with someone you will get along with. Because you will be in business with them for the next circa 12 months.

These 11 questions will get you heading in the right direction. You should never assume anything, which is why these questions are so important.

builder questions to ask

I should point out they aren’t in any specific order.

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11 Questions to Ask Your Home Builder

1. Have you done any project builds similar to mine? 

If so, ask for an address so you can check it out. This will prove that your builder can deliver your project.

proof builder can deliver

2. How many projects do you have on the go now? And do you have the resources to take on my project? 

It’s essential that the builder can properly resource your project. This will avoid time delays.

3. How do you envisage my development being resourced? Will it have its own project manager? Will it have an on-site manager; how do you envisage the supervision being handled? 

You must have clarity about how your project will be resourced. As you don’t want to find out later when it is too late.

4. How much do we put for liquidated damages in the contract?

The builder must be motivated to get the job done in a timely manner. They must be motivated. And the best way to do that is by landing on a number that suits both parties. 

Looking at potentially lost rental income can be a great place to start.

5. You must ask your builder what the payment schedule will be in the building contract. And which method they propose to use. 

It is vital that whatever schedule or method the builder proposes, it’s going to work for both parties. Keeping your builder paid timely will keep the build moving timely. 

You don’t want to run into a situation where the build is slowed down. Because the payment schedule doesn’t allow the job to flow.

6. How long will my project take how many days will we agree to in the contract, and what happens if it takes longer than you’re proposing? 

You need to understand how long your build will take and the measures the builder will put in place to mitigate the risk of time overruns. 

how long build takes

This will bring the liquidated damages into the conversation – you need to have these hard conversations with your builder early on so they are in concrete. 

It will be critical that if/when these issues do arise on-site, everyone is on the same page.

development risk

7. It’s essential to ask your builder when they can start your job. They may be excited to win your great work, but they must have the capabilities and resources to start in a timely manner. 

I can tell you from experience this is part of the house-building process that can drag out if you get caught out. 

You need a solid commitment from your builder on how quickly they can start turning dirt on-site after you sign the contract. 

builders commitment

8. Ask your builder to provide an accountant’s solvency letter from their registered accountant. Confirming that their building company is solvent and up to date with all their payment obligations.

This is an added layer we do here at Little Fish. To help reduce the risk of the builder going under during the project.

9. Ask your builder to provide a past client that they’ve worked for. Someone you can talk to and ask about their experience. 

They will comply if the builder has nothing to hide and wants your work. If they aren’t prepared to put anyone forward, it’s a red flag. 

builders compliance

A quick chat with a previous client can go a long way to put your mind at ease.

10. It is always a good idea to ask your builder about their process for site visits during the build.

These builds will go on for 12 months. So you must understand the process for you to inspect your development’s progress. 

Some builders are very flexible and liberal with this process. But some like to keep their site locked, and you’ll have to book a time to see the site with them. 

You must understand what arrangement you will be getting into and that you are comfortable with it.

11. Finally, another good conversation to have with your builder before signing the contract is about variations. 

Ask them if they envisage many variations based on the documentation you’ve provided up until that point.

builder variations process

You also need to understand the variation process. When they arise, how will the builder manage them? What will the communication be like? And what sort of due diligence will be conducted around these variations? 

The best way to combat variations is by being super thorough in the documentation stage.

Wrapping Up

The key overall, before formally locking in your builder, is to ensure that whatever questions you have, it is vital that you ask them before you sign on the dotted line.

questions to ask your builder

And remember, never assume anything. Ever. Always ask and get clarification.

Get all the questions in your head answered. That way, you can confidently move forward and expect a seamless journey with your building partner.

If you still aren’t sure – we can help. We are both development consultants and project managers, so we can provide whatever service you are after.