We met Tristan when we first looked into building around 2009 when he was working for a building company. For a variety of reasons we decided not to build at that time, but when we relooked at our options years later (we even considered owner build), we saw that Tristan started up a building broker company and decided to have a chat.
Tristan explained the process we could follow whereby we would engage a designer to develop initial planning drawings, approach a number of builders for a quote and only then make a commitment to build. We liked that with a small investment (the cost of the designer) we would be able to get (a) a clearer view of our custom designed house, (b) detailed costing with options to include or exclude certain elements to suit our budget and (c) the option to organise a number of things ourselves to reduce the costs.
After working out all the details, we finally signed up with a small builder who was used to building custom designed homes.
Unfortunately we had a number of hiccups during the building process and nearly ended up at the building commission but with guidance and support of Tristan we were able to settle the matter with the builder.
Despite being paid by the builder, Tristan proved to be committed to getting the best outcome for his clients (which I'm sure in the long run is also best for the builders). With all his experience and knowledge Tristan calmly guided us through the design and tender process (he even reviewed and provided input to our design), promptly replied to any queries and supported us ensuring disputes were settled with the builder. A big bonus for us also was that Tristan made himself available during the evenings.
We would definitely recommend contacting NHBB to discuss your plans to see if/how they can help.
Personal lessons learnt:
• To minimise rental loss, don't knock down the old house too soon
• Perform detailed costing of items not included in the quote to ensure the total cost fits your budget
• Review your plans and measure things out over and over before finalising your working drawings. We picked up several small errors (13 versions of our technical drawings).
• Discuss with your builder what options there are to minimise cracks especially with polished concrete floors
• Do your own due diligence on the builder
• Avoid all provisional amounts where possible (eg. include an electrical plan when requesting quotes from builders)
• Use a building inspector (objective third party) at various stages of the build, especially when things don’t go according to plan
• Keep an eye on the progress and take lots of pictures during construction
• Accumulate and report all maintenance issues in a timely manner
• I know it is not common practice in residential building but in order to ensure that all maintenance issues are sorted out in a timely manner I would be in favour of withholding a certain amount until all issues have been resolved
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