When undertaking a building or renovation project on your home it’s important to select the right industry professionals to assist you across the board. Whether that’s a building designer, architect, builder, or other trade professionals. One you’ve chosen you professional, how do you make sure you stay on good terms and keep the project running smoothly. We spoke to Nathalie Knight, Director and chief building designer with Brisbane firm The Outside Perspective for some advice and here’s 8 top tips to help you through your project.

A trusting relationship

Like any big financial commitment in your life, when building or renovating you need to trust the people on the other end of the deal. You are parting with a large sum of money in return for a home you may plan to spend the best part of your life enjoying. A good relationship between the builder and client is based on good communication, mutual respect and of course trust. That trust needs to cover finances, reliability, security and decision-making ability.


Before you put pen to paper with your builder, ask them simply how they intend to communicate with you throughout the job and how often. Will there be an expectation to be onsite daily to get updates, or will email communication suffice? Early on, during the quotation stage, make sure you obtain clear documentation and detailed specifications for your project. Poor documentation can often lead to issues later on.

Some builders who are progressive have begun to adopt online project management software, which allows clients to log in and keep updated with the project every step of the way.

Get a recommendation

Research your builder and ask for client testimonials. Start by asking your building designer or architect for recommendations, as they may have good working relationships with reputable companies. Word of mouth is the best recommendation possible, hearing from a happy client who raves about the quality of work and professionalism certainly helps to make your decisions easier. Remember, don’t just choose the cheapest quote.

Sometimes it’s best to just go with your gut instinct when working with a builder. If you don’t click with them from the beginning then they are not the right one for you. Find someone who you trust and communicates well.

Make selections in advance

Don’t delay on decisions regarding selections. Before you enter the quoting phase, have as many choices for exterior and interior fixtures, fittings and finishes selected as possible. This allows the builder to give the most accurate quote based on your preferred inclusions. It also puts all your quoting builder on a level playing field, quoting on the same products and services. Not only is this helpful for quoting purposes, it help eliminate surprise budget blow-outs and reduces time lost onsite when products are not available or delayed.

Be decisive

One key quality for a client to have to get the best out of their builder is to be an efficient decision maker. Being able to tackle any tricky questions, small or big with minimal delay will ensure your site continues moving forward on time and budget. When you approach a job without a clear idea or design in mind and constantly make changes on the fly can cause budget nightmares.

Once a job has started, small decisions like moving a wall or powerpoint might end up affecting subcontractors and timing and availability of other trades. Any delays for one trade can easily throw out the timing and availability of the next subcontractor which can have a snowball effect and can potentially cause significant increases in the project duration and cost

Finances can also play a huge part in a successful client-builder relationship. A good builder will be upfront with their schedule of fee’s and pricing from the beginning and a good client must ensure they pay their invoices on time. If this falls down then so might the schedule. Your builder should be using an approved contract from either the QBCC or Master Builders which clearly outlines the schedule of progress and payments. Withholding money when a stage has been reached can quickly turn the relationship sour.

Don’t interfere

Don’t second guess or questions your builder’s decision to approach a task or construct something a particular way. Remember, they are the experts in construction, and more often than not, the plans and engineering have most probably dictated the construction method.

Too many people looking over your builder’s shoulder, questioning decisions and design will certainly sour the relationship in no time and may cause other issues to occur. For example, conflicting instructions issued from a number of different people (the homeowner, the draftsman or architect) will often lead to errors and results that don’t flow.

Look after your trades

You may be paying them a hefty sum of money for the time and effort, but a bit of bribery goes a long way. Keeping on good terms with your building team is essential, particularly on larger renovation projects that can last a number of months. It can be a simple as getting all the supplies you’re responsible for onsite early or perhaps a more social approach with a beer on a Friday afternoon or including your site supervisor in your morning coffee run on occasion.