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Topic # 107939 22-Aug-2012 18:27 Send private message

We have looked at a few builders in Auckland
and had shortlisted 5 of them

1. Fowler Homes
2. Signature Homes
3. DW Homes
4. Platinum Homes
5. Navigation Homes

The order listed is the order of our preference at the moment

if any of you had experience with one of them can you please rate your experience and advise us

Thanks
Keith

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  Reply # 675589 22-Aug-2012 18:48 Send private message



Depends what sort of house you are wanting. If you are just wanting a cookie cutter type house where you chose the design from a book which they plonk on your site, many of these companies are very similar, and you would probably chose the company based on what house you like the best. Many are franchises. Build quality also varies a lot, so you need to see examples of their work, and also look at homes that they have built that are over 10 years old, to see how they have weathered.
For best results with a home designed especially for you, I would recommend an architect , and using an independant bulder.

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  Reply # 675593 22-Aug-2012 18:57 Send private message

Have you checked out No Cow Boys?




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  Reply # 675669 22-Aug-2012 21:41 Send private message

Last year we've built with GJ Gardner, moved in December, still some unfinished work. Fully agree with all of the above, and be aware that the finish will not be perfect, there will be flaws, most companies just organise subcontractors and you get whatever contractor is available at the time. It is not a team of people that work together, it is a bit here and a bit there and eventually it all comes together. Or so they say. We had no disaster, just frustrations and mix-ups. Next time I will probably just go to lock-up and then get my own finishers. The subcontractors get paid just enough to get them in the door and then charge for extras. So with no extras there is little intensive to do a good job.




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  Reply # 675725 22-Aug-2012 22:37 Send private message

No specific recommendations but a few observations. I do work in the commercial building industry though.

Who ever you go with read the contract very very carefully. You don't have to accept the clauses they propose, and you have the right to add clauses of your own. If everything goes to custard the contract is king. If you are not confident with this spend the money to get legal advice, it's worth it.

Along with the contract make sure there is a very clear spec. If your spec says that you get 2 powerpoints per room and you want 3, you will pay extra. Changes you want made will be priced at a contract rate prior to the contract being signed, extras post contract will always be more expensive. Get everything in writing and make sure you get the spec signed off by the builder as well as the contract. Changes post contract cost the builder more generally so they'll cost you more too.

The more time you spend planning and researching the better the build will go. Don't rush to start construction, the better you prepare the more money you will save.

If you get verbal advice from your builder about the build, diarise it. Diary notes you take at the time are legally admissable and a string of them shows credibility in court. It is unlikely this will happen but the more you document the better.

The final thing I would say is watch the progress claims like a hawk, and if you are not happy with work done don't pay for it until you are happy. Don't pay for anything upfront, always pay after the work is done. If you pay for materials upfront make sure you take possession of them, if you don't hold them you don't own them.

If they send you letters and threaten to sue don't pay until you are happy with the work done. Control the cash and you control the process. Once you pay you can't make them come back, if you don't pay they will keep coming back even if they complain and make threats.

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  Reply # 675726 22-Aug-2012 22:39 Send private message

Niel: Last year we've built with GJ Gardner, moved in December, still some unfinished work. Fully agree with all of the above, and be aware that the finish will not be perfect, there will be flaws, most companies just organise subcontractors and you get whatever contractor is available at the time. It is not a team of people that work together, it is a bit here and a bit there and eventually it all comes together. Or so they say. We had no disaster, just frustrations and mix-ups. Next time I will probably just go to lock-up and then get my own finishers. The subcontractors get paid just enough to get them in the door and then charge for extras. So with no extras there is little intensive to do a good job.


You bring up a good point about subbies. Get it written into your contract that subcontractors are not permitted to resubcontract out the work to third parties. We had problems with subcontractors tendering for a job, and then they in turn subcontracted out the work to third parties, who weren't up to the job. If they can do that, then they must be adding on generous margins. In the end we had to get a professional inspector in to highlight the defects for the orginal subcontractor to correct. But we did send the bill for that assessor to the subcontractor to, so they probably didn't make too much from the job.

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  Reply # 676119 23-Aug-2012 20:10 Send private message

Extra power points cost in the region of $80 each. Normal is 2x single power points.

You can supply any fittings and they will fit it usually at no extra cost if it is something like a front door handle where the labour was already included in the contract price. Anything not in the "standard" spec is at RRP + 20%. And a standard kitchen is not very good. On kitchens, you can buy a kitset from Bunnings and install it yourself or get your own quality contractor to do that part of the project. There are some aspects of the job you want to make sure you get a good contractor, not whoever the project manager can find at the time.




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  Reply # 676137 23-Aug-2012 21:05 Send private message

I can't speak for Auckland franchises, as it really boils down to the individual builder and project manager, so yes find an example of something they have built and have a good look around, speak the the owners if you can. I like the work I have seen from your top 2 companies.

You are likely to get a lot of subjective responses, for example I know of two workmates who have GJ Gardener homes, and both have been a nightmare during and after the build...as a result there is no way I would touch that brand.

We have built 2 houses with Jennian homes. First project was great, the second no so much. Same franchise, 2 different building teams/gangs, or whatever you want to call them. Next house was an independent builder, and if you can find one that will project manage the build then that would be my recommendation. You get a lot more input and can adapt as the build progresses.

Remember, always allow extra time and money, they never run on time or budget.

Best of luck.









Artificial intelligence is no match, for natural stupidity!



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  Reply # 676147 23-Aug-2012 21:50 Send private message

One thing I would insist on, is a very HIGH level of plaster and paint, it's a real problem in cookie cutter houses. Personally within reason, any cost for a level 5 finish will be worth it. A specific thing, but considering the paint is something you will notice every day, make sure you stipulate you want someone who is EXCELLENT.

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  Reply # 676149 23-Aug-2012 22:01 Send private message


Hi Keith (I hope not Keith from ex Navigation homes).

Our build finished one year ago after a major mess with Navigation homes. We used the North Shore franchise and they stuffed up over 16 builds and then folded leaving a big mess. I see the franchise out west has closed (or moved) and the main dude who was giving out the franchises might still be in business but was being taken to court for stealing IP from other companies. The people in the franchise we used are now being investigate by the Government so I would totally avoid this crowd at all cost. Also stay away from Bryce Davis from what every name he is using now as he was involved in the mess also.

We had to go out and get re quotes to get our house finished and we found Maddren Homes really good but in the end went with an independent builder (Galaxy Construction) who are friends of ours. They did a fantastic job. Did not want to use friends first off but learnt that lesson.

I totally support the advice given by other posters and advise you to follow there advice fully, some very good comments there.

The surprise that cost us the most money was in the land geotech tests where the builder thought the design would work but it did not so make sure you get not only opinions on the house but the land it will sit on also.

Do not think that just because the company belongs to Master Builders that all will be ok. They pay out for only a few things but do not help out if there is a big mess e.g. under quoting the job, walking out a leaving heaps of work not done.

Do not let my experience put you off as we love our new house and do not regret building it.


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  Reply # 682961 7-Sep-2012 22:29 Send private message

Sorry if the threads a bit old. I had no idea this area of the forums existed after frequenting for years. I'm a building contractor from wellington and naturally have taken an interest in some points raised. To blame a franchise is a bit unfair on the honest harding working franchise owners (I am a sole trader by the way, so trading on my name) of which i'm sure there are plenty. I have never had a dispute in over 15 years in the trade but recently found out at a Licensed building practitioner seminar that 1 in 4 jobs end in disputes which amazed me. What i personally think is that most of these disputes are caused by poor pricing and investigation by contractors and naturally home owners taking the cheapest price. I don't think home owners understand how much unpaid work goes into putting together a tender which spans over 8 trades, which also makes it more likely to get  tardy pricing habits from builders.
I would recommend you get three prices and fully investigate the middle one, but please bear in mind he is doing all the leg work for nothing at this stage so try not to be too vauge about your design and what not, that's what the architect's for.

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  Reply # 682967 7-Sep-2012 23:13 Send private message

Ropata: Sorry if the threads a bit old. I had no idea this area of the forums existed after frequenting for years. I'm a building contractor from wellington and naturally have taken an interest in some points raised. To blame a franchise is a bit unfair on the honest harding working franchise owners (I am a sole trader by the way, so trading on my name) of which i'm sure there are plenty. I have never had a dispute in over 15 years in the trade but recently found out at a Licensed building practitioner seminar that 1 in 4 jobs end in disputes which amazed me. What i personally think is?that most of these disputes are caused by poor pricing and investigation by contractors and naturally home owners taking the cheapest price. I don't think home owners understand how much unpaid work goes into putting together a tender which spans over 8 trades, which also makes it?more likely to get? tardy pricing habits from builders.
I would recommend you get three prices and fully investigate the middle one, but please bear in mind he is doing all the leg work for nothing at this stage so try not to be too vauge about your design and what not, that's what the architect's for.


I would recommend anyone who gets a design done, to hire a independent quality surveyor to assess it. That helps the builder, and means you get more accurate quotes. Preparing quotes is part of the running costs of most businesses, and is generally covered by the margin that you make on work. I personally only quote on jobs that I am interested in doing, and turn away jobs I am not interested in or I think will be more trouble than they are worth.

One mistake that people often make when building is the way they make progress payments. Often they pay more than the amount of work that has been done, which creates major problems if the builder goes under. Only pay up to the amount of work that has been completed, and you have far more protection. Then if the builder does go under, you can hire another and not be out of pocket by too much.

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  Reply # 682970 7-Sep-2012 23:20 Send private message

yeah some good advice on here

we built 4 years ago with sovereign who went into receivership last year owning over $2M :(

which from our point of view is a shame because we actually got a home we are still very happy with from them

key factors in this:

- as a first task we inspected numerous show homes to get a feel for what the various builders could do
- we then compared the cost per m2 of various builders / homes
- we found that the cheaper ones tended to use lower grade products and finishes and this was evident from their show homes and std spec list
- the dearer ones we often couldn't quite see what additional value they offered for their higher premium
- so we settled on sovereign who in terms of what we wanted - sat in the middle of the cost / value curve
- be very clear about what you want and communicate these requirements to your builder
- pin down as much as you can (preferably everything) as part of the agreed lump sum
- its better for this planning stage to take longer and give you more certainty, then deal with variations later
- ensure you read their std spec carefully - change it if required - but get these changes priced up before signing
- consider upgrading the insulation spec eg. we built in akl but to sth island spec in terms of r values - it doesn't cost much at build time but is well worth it
- ensure you review the contract and lock in a start date / duration and contract completion date AND agree a liquidated damages amount as part of the contract - a valid amount would eg. be your Current Rent Cost / Week. This will make them keener to complete on time.
- avoid changes post signature - because change will always come at a cost
- ensure you meet the project manager who will work on your home and inspect recent projects of theirs to gauge the product they deliver (our pm was a slightly grumpy guy but was focused on doing a good job)
- pay special consideration to things like earthworks, retaining walls, service connections, consent requirements, council developer contributions and budget for these both in terms of time and cost
- allow a contingency as you may well need it and you don't want to run out of money 90% of the way through
- consider getting some items done directly eg. supply your own light fittings, floor coverings, fireplace, concrete/paving, fencing etc - as there can be a fair mark up on these - however be careful if you do go down this path and make sure they don't impact the main house build adversely, as this can result in additional costs to the builder and you
- always pay on a progress payment basis ie. and only for work done - agree these percentages upfront as part of the contract eg. key milestones slab down / frame up / roof on etc
- do not EVER hand over large sums of cash for tasks that have NOT been completed
- inspect the site on a regular basis - take photos - if something doesn't look right - contact your builder and discuss it
- if you have a clue re building, great - if you don't, take a friend / family member to the site on a regular basis who does as an independent check - its about giving you comfort and keeping the builder honest
- ensure that the builder is responsible for obtaining the CCC and do not release the final payment until this is secured
- ensure you read the contract re the conditions for taking occupancy - eg. std contracts state that you cant occupy the house until the final payment is made


right - lots of blah blah there - but hopefully something is of use : )

cheers and good luck

ed

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