Copy to clipboard


Every successful renovation needs a good builder.

But how do you find one?

Lots of first-time renovators go to websites like Builderscrack and NoCowboys, but while this is popular, it’s also risky.

The best way to find a builder is through word-of-mouth, but not everyone has access to this sort of insider intel.

That’s why in this article, you’ll learn our top tips for how to find a builder.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve completed over 100 renovations. Some have been personal projects; others are for the investors I work with.

Quick facts:

  • Online sites like Builders Crack and No Cowboys can be risky.
  • It’s a good idea to find a company with at least 2 builders (not a one-man-band)
  • Always get more than one quote
  • Make sure you’re working with a licenced building practitioner.

#1 Create a short list online but look out for these things:

Sometimes jumping online is your only option when searching for a builder.

But online sites (like Builderscrack) have a real mix of quality, so you don’t have the same confidence you’d have when getting a recommendation from a friend.

But sometimes your only option is to go online. So here are a few things you can look out for:

#2 Interview each building company. But how do you decide if a builder is good or bad?

Once you’ve created a short list of two to three companies, the next step is to talk to them. Bring them to the building site, sort of like your own interview.

You want to hear them speak about the job.

Ask questions as if you are trying to be educated … but really, you want them to show you that they know their stuff.

Listen for:

  • a sound knowledge of building code
  • Whether they are methodical; they should be able to give answers reasonably quickly.

For example, if you want to reshuffle a bathroom around. You want to hear the process they would take. e.g. steps 1,2, 3 and 4.

If they can’t answer that’s potentially a red flag.

Either they might not know the building code (yikes) or if they do they can’t communicate well with you.

It’s also a good idea to try and line up the electrician and plumber to come to site at the same time. This way you can second check any ideas coming from your builders.

Everyone on the same page is a positive sign.

What are some common mistakes people make when choosing a builder?

Here are some of the mistakes investors often make when choosing a builder –

Mistake #1 – Just accepting the cheapest quote

It’s very tempting to just go for the cheapest quote.

But you can’t have it all. You can’t take the cheapest price and get the best job.

First-time renovators can get tunnel-focused. They just focus on the figure at the bottom of the quote, not thinking about what that quote does (or doesn’t) include.

You want to look for the perfect balance of cost vs quality.

Mistake #2 – Only getting one quote

Don’t assume something is right because it comes from a builder. 

Always get at least 2 quotes. 

This can save you thousands.

Mistake #3 – Not checking all the details

Make sure your builder is a licensed building practitioner. Check the register online.

This is one sure way to prevent things from going pear-shaped.

Not only that but check out their reputation online. Look at Facebook groups. Do a Google search.

If they’ve done anything bad in the past, it’s probably mentioned somewhere online.

How do I avoid hiring a dodgy builder?

Not all builders on NoCowboys or Builderscrack are dodgy.

It’s just a bit higher risk than getting a recommendation.

That’s why you’ve got to make sure the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed before you pay them money.

Using these tips, you should be able to avoid a lot of stress and anxiety and pick the right builder for you.

Opes Partners
Laine 3 001

Laine Moger

Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) from Massey University.

Laine Moger, a seasoned Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communications (Honours) from Massey University and a Diploma of Journalism from the London School of Journalism. She has been an integral part of the Opes team for two years, crafting content for our website, newsletter, and external columns, as well as contributing to Informed Investor and NZ Property Investor.

View Profile