Archive for July 21, 2014

Before Hiring a Building Contractor

5 Things to Know Before Hiring a Building Contractor


Thinking about hiring a contractor usually sends uncomfortable chills up your spine. So much can go wrong – and we’ve all heard stories about how prices can skyrocket and/or the hired contractor disappears before the job is done. So much can happen that it’s imperative you know what you’re doing before letting a contractor “fix up” your world.


It used to be that anyone can tag a metal sign on the side of his truck, print up some business cards and pass himself off as a “contractor.” He may also have a good or expensive ad that you see and assume that he does quality work. Unless you dig deep to find out the credentials and integrity of the contractor, you might have a disaster on your hands.


The best way to find a reputable contractor is through friends, co-workers and neighbours. If your neighbour is having a job done such as renovations or repairs, make it a point to go over and chat with one of the workers or the contractor. You can also chat with the neighbour about how pleased they are with the job, both during and after the work.


Other than great references from those you know, here are five tips you may want to know about before you proceed with a home improvement job that can cost you a ton if it goes wrong.


  1. Know exactly what you want. You’re the only one who can accurately convey to the prospective house builder what the scope of your job will be. Spend time assessing the project, write down or print out pictures of what it will look like when finished.


Floor plans for new homes

Floor plans for new homes – image renjith krishnan

Always specify the grade of features you require – such as brand names for appliances or the specific type of floor covering you’re expecting. Then, when you get an itemised quote, everything you specified should be addressed.


If you don’t have any clue about how to proceed with a design idea or to convey your desires, it may be a good idea to meet with a design consultant to lead you in a direction that will be clear for the contractor to follow.


  1. License and Insurance. All professional contractors should be licensed and insured — and should provide proof of both.


  1. The contractor should be up-to-date on his public liability insurance. If not, delete them from your list quickly and decisively. For Master Builders, they are required to carry this form of insurance so be sure to check it out. Also look for building forms that are members of the Master Builders Association.


You can think of their honesty and business integrity as suspect if the contractor can’t provide proof of both license and insurance. And, you may be held responsible if one of the workers is hurt on your property and the contractor has no insurance.


  1. Get several bids. Most people consider that three bids are the minimum amount to seeking a good contractor, but more is better in this case. Six bids will definitely show you a pattern about the difference in contractors and the way they quote and do business.


You’ll get to know a lot about the contractor by the way the bids are presented, including how professional he is, the quality of work that varies from contractor to contractor and the rates.


You may be tempted to go with the bargain price for the work needed, but the work may be questionable. A higher bid might indicate higher quality work, but not necessarily. Also look for a contract that has fixed prices. Many firms will bid low to get the job and then add on lots of other costs during the project. Make sure that any additional costs are agreed by you in writing before the builder commits to them.


  1. Investigate before signing a contract. Put on your detective hat before hiring a contractor to come on your property and start making extensive changes. Be sure you know and have seen the company name, address and have seen the license and insurance information.


If the contractor has references to offer, be sure you check out their work habits and work history. How long has he been in business and were the jobs he did satisfactory to the client?


Their customer services should have been professional up to this point too. Were your phone calls returned promptly and appointments met? Do the contractor and workers look professional? Pay attention to the details.


  1. Receive an itemised quote. Without that document, you’re in dark about what the contractor will do. You also won’t have a clear understanding of the prices involved in materials and labour.


An itemised quote means that the contractor will have less chance of “padding” the quote with unnecessary expenses and sky-high material and labour costs.


A building contractor’s reputation is their best form of advertisement. You can either use friends and other people you know to check him out or look at online. There are some rating sites but they might also get reviews posted about them too.


After reading all of this you may be a bit nervous about hiring a building company but if you follow those guidelines you should be able to find good house builders in Auckland quite easily. Be sure to include Repair & Restore on your short-list. They have some great references from some well known clients.

How to Choose a Building Contractor

How to Choose a Building Contractor

Your home is probably the largest financial outlay you will make during your life. If you are thinking of a home building or renovation project make sure you hire builders who you can trust and you know to be reliable. There are many building firms out there competing for your business, many of which claim they are the best to do your job and that you can rely on them. Alas, not all building contractors can be relied upon so picking a poor builder might cost you too much money, wasted time plus heaps of distress. The information below can help you find a good house builder.

New house in Auckland

New house in Auckland – image Bill Longshaw

Ask for references. Any reputable general contractor will be able to provide you with some references of other happy clients. Call these references to get the inside scoop on the general contractor in question. In addition to finding out how well the job was completed, you should also make an effort to learn as much as you can about the contractor’s timeliness (was the project completed as scheduled?), reliability (did the contractor and construction team show up to work as planned?), resourcefulness (were a variety of building materials and price point options provided?), and communication (was the contractor easy to talk to and open to suggestions?).

Online research. You can find a lot of very valuable information about most general contractors with just a simple online search. Sites like Yelp and Google Places allow customers to post their reviews of businesses, and there is perhaps no better indicator of a builder’s quality than word of mouth.

Licensing and insurance. Any contractor you choose to do business with should be licensed to work in your area, and insured for at least the amount of the value of your project. Don’t be afraid to ask the general contractor directly for proof of both. In some cases, this may be your only protection in the case that the worst does happen and you must seek compensation for shoddy or unfinished work.

  1. It is important that you interview a number of general contractors before settling on the one for the job. Prepare a list of questions to ask and then sit face to face with each contractor to discuss your project and your questions. Following a consultation, a building contractor should be able to provide you with a job estimate. You can compare estimates, as well as the information you get during interviews, to choose the right general contractor for your project.

Most people who want house renovations or a builder to construct a brand new home rely upon what the builder says about themselves. This is risky for any homeowner so to reduce those risks and increase your chances of a happy house renovation project or building a new home, contact a builder who has very public references and testimonials.

New Built Homes Are A Great Option

New Built Homes Are A Great Option


When people are trying to get great looking new homes, they may not realise the challenges they are going to face. However, most of these challenges are easy to overcome if people know why the new built houses are such a great option rather than settling for one of the standard floor plans that has already been laid out for people to buy. Without this information, people may think that new custom-designed houses are nothing more than an overpriced option but if you read below you will see why it can make sense to consider custom new houses.


New homes building company

New homes building company – image photostock

The first reason the custom built houses are such a great option is the ability of the owner to be specific about the features that they want to have inside the home. By knowing about these features added into the home, people will be able to enjoy the house simply because it has what they want to have. Without this people may get the basic floor plan and this could be a nice thing, but it would not have the particular personal features that the family wants to have. Custom-design floor plans for new homes give a family exactly what they want and know the house will suit their needs perfectly.


A second reason the new built houses are such a great option is these are generally going to have a higher level of quality to them. Older homes do not conform to the current Building Code standards in New Zealand. Instead they were made to traditional building standard so they are normally going to have the walls and insulation materials. In a new built house, the wood for the framing will be treated properly, the walls will have decent insulation built into the cavities and electrical or plumbing work will be up to the latest safety standards.


Something else people will enjoy with the new homes is the ability to design not just a personal floor plan but also the exterior for new home designs can be unique too. Since the total design is unique, people do not have to be concerned about the house looking like any of the other homes in the neighbourhood. This is important to many people with the increasing commoditisation of the world, one of ways people can express themselves is through the design of their home. Increasingly new home builders are creating sub-divisions with houses that all look very similar or even the same. This reduces their building costs but does not allow for personalisation of the home itself.


Finally with a new home people are going to see the value of the house is typically higher than that of older homes. The reason the value is higher is not just because of all the new features that people can specify in the home, but also because of the way the standard of the construction on the house.


However, do be careful with some of the things you might want to specify in your new house design. You may feel a 40 foot lounge is a grand statement but other people may think it is too big which may make it a challenge to sell the house. Your taste does not always mean good design sense. Be guided by the house builder and the architect in your desires for personal features in the house design. You are paying for their experience so use it and do not be dogmatic about your own opinions.


Auckland builder

Auckland builder – image

If you have been looking to move for a while but have not been able to find a house that suits your family or that you like the look of then maybe having a new home built may be the solution.


The next big task is to find a home building company in Auckland. This is one of the very best according to their customer testimonials such as this video. If you want more information about them, this is their website



Auckland builder for House Renovations

Key Points to Consider During House Renovation


House renovation projects can be quite challenging especially if you want to do it all yourself. However, home improvement entails a number of projects which should be done professionally if the desired results are to be achieved. These projects may range from the flooring, fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom, lighting and roofing among others and it is paramount to ensure that quality is enhanced in all stages of the renovation. The basic steps below will go a long way in making your project a success and pocket friendly experience.


Create some room:

It is always advisable to begin your house renovation projects by removing unnecessary items or old stuff that may be lingering around. By doing this, you will be able to have an enhanced vision of what exactly needs to be restored and where as well. Either way, you still will have to create room before the inception of the project, so why not start immediately? There are numerous ways of achieving this such as garage sales for instance which will also come in handy financially speaking.


Create a budget and task list:

One of the best ways of creating a budget and comprehensive plan is through making a list of what will need to be renovated in your home. The list should also include the most basic of items both interior and exterior so as to determine the returns your investment (ROI) will yield over a while. ROI is always of paramount importance especially to the home owners planning to sell in the near future.


Too often people undertake major renovations with a view to on-selling when the project is completed but do not do the maths to see if they will be able to recover their costs. In fact, people frequently over-capitalise their property. In their min a new kitchen and the extra bedroom will make the home much more desirable and go all out to make the house extension as good as possible only to discover that the extra rooms do not match the market price in their area. Not all suburbs are priced for four bedroom houses.

Consider the pain points:

Every home owner’s desire is to create a stress free environment which is conducive for every member of the family. This can be achieved by identifying the pain points around your home and working on them immediately. Pain points are to bluntly put, those areas or aspects in your home that you just can’t stand. The pain points may range from the colour of paint in your kid’s bedroom or the lack of enough space in your bathroom or kitchen. Regardless of the ROI, doing this will significantly enhance the comfort of each member of your family besides reducing stress around the home which is paramount.


Consider the time and tasks:

It is always essential to consider the amount of time and effort each project will take. This will help you determine which projects you can DIY and those that will require professional aid. Considering the amount of time each project will consume will also help you plan ahead especially if you will need to relocate your family for a while for those major home renovation projects.


All that being said, home renovation need not be a daunting and expensive affair. By following the above steps, you are guaranteed to get the most out of your projects as well as creating a conducive environment which is delightful for every family member.


The above are relatively easy renovation projects that most DIY handy-men can do for themselves. However, for those who have major home renovation projects, it would be advisable to get professional help.


House renovation builder

House renovation builder – image marin

Replacing a few cupboards is one thing. Knocking down and building walls, especially load-bearing and external walls, is a completely different kettle of fish. This is even more of an issue if you are currently living n the house. The disruption can take weeks and often extend into months if it is done part-time. Then you have to consider plumbing and electrical wiring. These days, insurance companies can be very difficult if new wiring does not have professional sign-off.


A final thought is the quality of the finish of the various jobs. A professional house renovations company will have experts with years of experience in electrical work, plumbing, building, kitchen installation, and decorating. If you are thinking of doing the job yourself, you are effectively trying to be all of these experts with very little experience. To be fair to yourself, your family and to make your house easier to sell, hire a house renovations company.


If you are in Auckland, these guys are some of the best renovations specialists.



Original Materials and Techniques For Villa Renovations

Good Builders Respect the Original Materials and Techniques For Villa Renovations

Old villas were meant to last for generations and were properties that were always proudly handed over to the next generation. Their basic designs made for healthy

villa renovations Auckland

Villa renovations Auckland
– image keyhug

homes that used environmentally friendly materials although that was not an issue at the time. So if you are looking at a villa renovation project, then the following might help.

It is almost certain that in an old home you will find wool insulation, well-seasoned timber and building products salvaged from other properties. They will have integrity in the composition of the home, which will adapt to any change in lifestyle. Old homes are also likely to have around them well maintained landscapes known more for their natural beauty and than one that has a manicured and artificial appearance. All this has led to many people preferring to live in old homes, if they are lucky to buy them or in some cases inherit them from ancestors. Time does leave its ravages on older homes, and this is why at times you may feel the need to restore an old home to pristine condition.

The materials and structures in an old home need to be restored or repaired with a lot of care. That is why you need to get in an experienced specialist builder for the restoration of villas and old homes. They must be people who are used to traditional methods of conservation. This includes being adept in using lime plasters, mortars, old woods and all material that give any restored home the breathable quality that older constructions always had. A builder entrusted with the task of restoring an old Auckland villa will first carry out a thorough inspection of the home, the materials used, repairs needed and other problems that may be affecting the home. Existing homes in the area, which belong to that era, may also be visited to understand the styles and materials. Every building has its own particular design element that gives it a particular charm, and any restoration undertaken, will always be done in such a way that this is never lost. However, if you choose a renovation company in Auckland that has worked on numerous villa restorations, then they will be able to advise you about your home.

Restoration of old homes will require repairs to stone walls, replacing wooden weatherboards, repairs to windows and doors, replacing roofs and many other actions to make the home livable once again.

Bungalow and villa renovation

Bungalow and villa renovation – image istock

A major problem that restorers of old homes encounter is dealing with dampness. Old buildings were mainly solid walled structures and built with materials that could breathe. This meant that dampness was one thing that could never be completely eliminated. When such walls heat up the air within their pores goes out of the wall, and when the reverse happens, air gets drawn in. When this air is damp, the air may get cooled below dew point and form droplets of water. This is why any attempt at restoration that uses coatings that seal in the water, will then allow it to build up within the wall, which in turn will damage the coatings, whether they are paint or plasters. A more practical way of dealing with dampness is to study its origin and prevent it from occurring. A check on ground levels outside the building quite often brings about an obvious solution. The problem can also come from vegetation near walls or trees that create shade and prevent the wall from drying up in the sun. A check can also be made of roofs to ensure that drains, spouting and gutters are working properly.

A good builder who restores an old home has to study the materials from which it has been made and understand them. They will never suggest cement render or any of the new-fangled epoxy and other chemical based plasters that stop walls of old house from breathing. In the case of woodwork, any restoration will continue with the practice in use by older craftsmen and depend on fine craftsmanship to deal with any repairs, instead of using glues, adhesives and other fasteners.

One of Auckland’s top villa restoration companies is Repair & Restore. Check out their website for more details.