The 10 questions you’ve always wanted to ask a builder

Here, we quiz Troy Jury of Qualified Building Solutions (QBS) on price, timeframes and roof shouts


1 What questions should people ask when phoning a builder about a potential job?
The first question should always be: “Are you licensed and what is your licence number?” Followed by, “Are you available over my ideal timeframe?” Also, it helps to ask the builder for three or four references. It’s a good idea to check references from prior clients on before you even talk.

2 Is there usually negotiation on price after an initial quote?
Always. We prefer to quote the entire job for our client and then supply a breakdown of all the costs. At this point, the client can re-prioritise and negotiate the scope of each individual cost.

3 For what scale of job is a contract needed?
It’s best practice to have a contract no matter how small or big the job. However, if the project is over $30,000 including GST a contract must be used by law. A contract can make all the difference if there is a dispute during the project.

4 How is payment structured?
We require a 10 percent deposit to book the job and secure tradespeople. If at the last minute the client has to pull the pin, our employees could be left without work. We offer a range of payment options, from hourly rates to fixed price or labour only. The payment schedule is usually divided up over the project and a claim is put in either weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

5 What are the benefits of the builder buying supplies?
The builder should have a very tight and trusting relationship with his preferred merchant rep. This is crucial if the builder is supplying materials as he can push for the best price for the client and then add the agreed margin. If the client is set on supplying, they should try to supply through the builder’s rep; this will keep the builder happy as he’ll still be dealing with the usual process and contacts.

6 What are the most common issues builders have with homeowners?
The dreaded word ‘extra’, an important word for builders in terms of what’s in and out of scope, but often tradies, customers and contracts have different interpretations of what it means. It’s important to discuss potential extras and costs.

7 What happens if the project takes longer than originally agreed?
It really comes down to why it’s gone over, eg weather issues or changes to the original plan. The best way to deal with delays is to sit down and have a discussion as to where and why the project has over-run. There should always be a time contingency in the contract to cover unforeseen issues. If a builder causes the delay, most would want to make a nice gesture such as a bottle of wine or a meal out somewhere.

8 What clean-up can homeowners expect?
It’s as easy as leaving the house in the same condition as before you started. Our team will thoroughly dust and put things in rubbish bins. For a new house, we would quote commercial cleaners into the job – this would be called ‘builder’s cleaner’ on the quote.

9 Who was the worst client you’ve ever had?
By far the worst clients I’ve experienced were my own kids. I built them a jungle gym. They were so demanding. They wanted slides, swings, more and more. And the toughest part for me was they were over it within a week after it was finished!

By far the worst clients I've experienced

were my own kids

10 Is it true tradies will work harder if you shout beersies on a Friday?
This is 100 percent true. It’s a good way to show your appreciation, especially if the job is ahead of schedule or the builder has gone out of their way to get a better price. In New Zealand we have a ‘roof shout’ once a roof goes up; the builder puts up a flag as a sign for the client to put on some food and a few beers. The tradition is fading out but we hope to keep it going.

We found Auckland-based Troy Jury, owner and founder of Qualified Building Solutions (QBS), via, an online marketplace where homeowners can post jobs and builders and tradespeople can chase jobs, provide quotes and win work.

Portrait by Angie Humphries.

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