How to hire a renovation specialist in Auckland (and avoid the cowboys)

renovation specialistNever-ending delays, living with a messy worksite and going over budget is enough to make you wish you’d left your house as it was. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Wondering how you can ensure a painless renovation process?

To ensure a dream build, you need the dream team. Cowboy builders are unreliable and can put you through a difficult time before you finally end the relationship, at much cost and stress. But how can you be sure that you’re hiring an experienced professional and not a cowboy?

There are a few red flags that should put you on alert for cowboy builders.

Unregistered builders

A company (even a sole trader) should be eligible for GST if they are taking on large projects. It is highly unlikely that a legit company will not be registered so be wary if your builder is unregistered.

No registered office or phone number

In today’s age, not having a registered office landline is not uncommon but it is suspicious if the company doesn’t have a registered office address. If something goes wrong, you need to be able to contact someone about it. Make sure that the company you are hiring has a legit office you can turn to.

Refusal to provide estimates

Experienced renovation specialists in Auckland or elsewhere will be able to give you written estimates on the timeline and budget for your project. If your builder is too vague or refuses to discuss these points, you have good reason to suspect that you have a cowboy builder on your hands.

No contract or agreement

Since you are investing a large amount of money on a project, it is a good idea to have the terms, budget estimates and timelines written down in a contract. If your builder does not want to sign one, you should quickly look to considering others for the job. A signed hard copy of a contract will back you up in case you ever need to legally pursue a complaint. So, make sure that you get this before work begins.

Cash payments

Paying the full amount upfront is not necessary and not usual practice. If your builder insists on this, it is a very big red flag. Asking for full cash payment is another thing you should be wary of. It is acceptable to pay in instalments through the duration of the project or at the end when the job has been completed. Whichever method you choose, make sure it is included in the written agreement or contract.

Cheap quotes

If your builder is willing to work for an amount that is notably less than other builders, it is a good time to pause and consider why he is offering such a rate. And look closely at the estimate because it may be leaving out specific big costs that will come up later on. Don’t be tempted by a very low offer because you should be paying for quality work and no hidden surprises.

No references

If the builder you are considering is not known in your area and has no references that you can trust, it is something that should worry you. This may mean that they may not have the necessary experience to complete a large scale project to your satisfaction. Or they may be hiding something. In this case, it makes sense to try and ask around about the builder to see how previous projects went.

Check for industry associations

There are generally industry associations that hand out memberships or licences to reliable professionals. These associations don’t automatically give you a membership for a fee. Potential members will have to submit their record of work and have insurance at the very least. Generally, members of an association will need to agree to follow a code of conduct or practice. Do your homework on the builder you intend to hire and the conditions under which he/she was given membership to an association.

A suspiciously fast timeline

Sure, you do want the work done as quickly as possible, but reasonably, there is only so much a builder can do within a specific time period. Ask them, how long does a kitchen renovation take?

On average, a full renovation should take about a month or even a few weeks longer. They can be quite complicated to renovate because of the plumbing and special features involved.

Just as you are watchful of builders who are would take too long with a job, you should also be careful of builders who are in a rush. Even if they do complete the job, it may not be satisfactory if they’ve hurried through it and made compromises.

Are they short of workers or equipment?

Experienced builders will be prepared for the job at hand and will have the equipment required for it. If they are making compromises and substitutes, it is a sure sign that their intention is just to muddle through.

Sometimes misunderstandings between client and builder are genuine. If you are having trouble with a builder, you can try having a proper discussion to sort it out – most companies are reasonable as it is in both your best interests to get the job done. If this doesn’t work, you could get a professional mediator or if your contractor is part of an association, approach it to see if there are any in-house procedures that you can use.

Ideally, you should assess these factors before you hire a builder. But even if you’re in the middle of a project, it’s not a bad idea to run through these points to see if your builder checks the right boxes. An experienced builder like SIKA Homes offer transparent processes and open channels of communication to keep you in the loop. This goes a long way in making the renovations process easier for you.

If you are looking for renovation specialists in Auckland, give us a call to discuss your project. We having contracts, guarantees, are members of NZ Master Builders Association, and we want to help with your dream renovation.

*Bonus tip: If they arrive on site riding horses, wearing chaps and spurs, and shouting ‘yippee ki-yay’ they are probably cowboys. Avoid.