Making the Right Home Builder Choice

How Hiring a Specialist Home Builder Can Save Your Home and Your Budget

Case Study

Dual Occupancy Home

Renmark Homes was requested to help a prospective customer with a major issue during their building process with another builder in Melbourne.

He had originally engaged a builder, to build a side by side luxury dual occupancy in the inner suburbs of Melbourne when things went terribly wrong.

He contacted Renmark Homes in desperation as their appointed builder had gone broke and left him with a half-finished home. He subsequently appointed a second builder who also went broke shortly after taking on the job as a favour to this customer.

The properties were not classified as a regular type of build as one of the dwellings, the one the owner was to move into as his home, had a basement, pool and quite a complex house plan.

When it comes to basement works and custom architect designed homes, a regular builder may not be the answer. This type of work requires skill, experience, a thorough understanding of the engineering principles of basement design and a commitment to quality.

This dual occupancy home sat idle for the best part of year and as time went on, more and more damage was being done to the home.

Assessing The Dual Occupancy Development

After visiting the site for a thorough investigation it was obvious that the two previous builders engaged in this dual occupancy build were working beyond their scope and experience.

The basement was poorly constructed, leaked profusely; which was a sign of incorrect installation of the retaining walls and water proofing.

The structure didn’t fare much better. The roofing was non-compliant, whereby a large section would need to be removed and re-installed to meet the building code.

The frameworks were of a particularly low standard and required an experienced carpenter to rebuild and repair large sections of the frame from within the building itself. Adding to this, is the element of it being a very slow and expensive task.

The in-ground plumbing was also of a poor standard and most of it needed to be ripped up and re-laid.

On inspecting the previous builders’ quotes it was evident that the job was quoted way too cheap for the type of works being requested.

This is such a common problem within the building industry. Clients are often driven to the cheapest price after obtaining multiple quotes without doing their due diligence on the building companies they are receiving the quotes from.

Custom homes can be complex and difficult builds and being driven to the cheapest price, will often lead to disaster. The wrong builder appointed to the wrong job is going to quickly turn into a horror story.

It never ceases to amaze us that people looking to spend upwards of $1,000,000 on a home and sometimes upwards of $2,000,000 of a luxury dual occupancy will appoint a builder because they are 1 – 2% cheaper than the other two or so home builders who quoted.

And when it is all properly scrutinised this saving quickly vanishes with delays and works that don’t reflect the calibre of the project. Then there’s the stress of having your building project gone off the rails and mounting variation costs.

Referring back to this particular customer, the cost of not moving into their home as planned took a huge toll.

Then factor in the interest being paid on the unfinished project, time delays in processing the insurance claim and finally the cost of getting an experienced builder in Melbourne such as Renmark Homes to pick up the pieces and complete the works.

In this particular case the rectification bill alone came in over $250,000.; an expensive lesson for going with the cheaper price.

Avoiding Mistakes When Choosing a Melbourne Home Builder

There are a couple of simple things that can be done to minimise the risk of appointing the wrong builder.

The first and foremost is to speak with a builder such as Renmark Homes on 1300 367 245 and arrange an initial meeting. Just requesting a quote from a google search is not going to cut it and is not worth risking your time and money.

The purpose of the meeting or initial call is to sound out the builder on their cost estimates to build a similar home. Do this first and get a feel for rapport, professionalism and building knowledge.

The relationship between you and your builder and your architect, if your builder doesn’t provide a home design service, should be seen more as a partnership where all the parties are working to a common goal. It isn’t often that you can find a Melbourne builder that works closely with you and at Renmark Homes, we believe this is one of the keys that makes us a preferred custom builder in Melbourne . It is absolutely critical to be delivering the project outcome and to work through any issues as a team.

When you build, you are appointing someone to manage one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so you are going to want to see work, check references and be as sure as you can be that they are the right custom builder for your job.

Limit your home building quotes to 3 and involve your architect for guidance.

Preferably if you find a builder that can work to you budget and ticks all the other boxes, then decide to deal with them and only them. We build custom homes in Geelong, Torquay, the Surfcoast and North Western Suburbs of Melbourne.

The more quotes you get the more confusing the whole process can become.

Although the budget is important, it should not be the motivating factor for appointing the right home builder.

The next thing is to understand the difference between a quote and an estimate. Even among builders themselves, this term gets used pretty loosely.

Step one is always to start with the home building estimate.

Estimates are ballpark figures based on your criteria. They don’t require the builder to go away and calculate every material and fitting. Estimates don’t usually cost you anything and are generally worthless as no detailed work or planning has begun.

One way you can tell if you are getting an estimate instead of a quote, is by how long the actual document you is that you receive. A one-page estimate is fairly standard, and can easily include all of the necessary information to let you know if your new home is within reach.

Home Building Proposal

A detailed builder's quote should be between 25-40 pages and specify every inclusion and can even reference working drawings of your project.

Creating a detailed (and correct!) quote is a time consuming process for a builder, often taking more than 50 hours to put together. A quote for your new home involves professional estimators, contacting subcontractors and tendering out your plans to all the key suppliers for quotes and creating a lengthy and detailed job schedule.

This easily runs up a cost to the builder of several thousand dollars. It’s for this reason that a full quote from a professional builder should never be free. A nominal fee is charged for their time to provide you with a detailed quote for your project.

Builders offering free quotes often rush their process and leave out incredibly important details for your home.

Remember that step 1 is to work with a builder and ask for an initial estimate to see if your project can be built within your budget.

Some builders will cut corners and leave out specifics and instead include Provisional Sums (PS’s) and Prime Cost Items (PC’s). If you see many of either of these on your document it should raise a flag.

These are just estimated allowances and so down the road, they can end up costing you significantly more once the real values are known. This is a dead giveaway the builder saved time and gave you an estimate rather than a detailed quote.

If you are working with a preferred builder on a quote for your new home, make sure you ask for a copy of the job schedule. This will show you if the builder has quoted the job or guesstimated it.

Lastly and probably the most daunting and confusing task of all is comparing the quotes. No two builders will present a quote in the same format so checking inclusions can be difficult. This is where a checklist can come in handy so each item that is important to you can be listed and checked off as included / not included or note the differences between the builders.

Once you have done a full analysis you can meet up and discuss the quote in detail.

Some Red Flags When Selecting a New Home Builder

If any of your selected builders display lack of professionalism in the following, it could be a sign that the builder is not right for you.

  1. Are they easy to communicate with and prompt to return calls/emails?
  2. What was the response time to you initial enquiry? Did they get back to you quickly or did you need to chase them? If they are tardy at this point, the same may carry through to the construction period.
  3. How did they come across on the phone or during the meeting? Were they helpful, display knowledge and enthusiasm?
  4. Do they have a web site?
  5. Are they on email and do they use it?
  6. Are they professional and make you feel part of the process?
  7. Are meetings run professionally and items of importance discussed with alternatives offered?
  8. Have they built this type of home before and where can it be viewed?
  9. Will they happily offer past clients to speak with (testimonials) about their building experience?
  10. Is the quote detailed?
  11. Was it put together in the time promised or did you have to keep chasing for it.?

Why Renmark Homes

As custom builders and dual occupancy specialists with over 25 years building experience, Renmark Homes are a preferred, select builder for those wanting a professional builder who works with clients as a ‘team’.

We build is specific suburbs being Geelong and the Surfcoast and the North Western suburbs of Melbourne.

Our years of experience shows in our homes. We encourage you to call us on 1300 367 245 and put us to the test.

Build it your way with Renmark Homes.


Contact us to discuss your dream home and build it your way with Renmark Homes.

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