Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not here writing away at my keyboard to inform you builders are either good or bad. If builders didn’t exist, our psychological need for shelter wouldn’t be realised. Not to mention the construction industry accounting for 6.8% of GDP (chain volume, abs, 2008-2009), and according to a Commonwealth Government Productivity and Industry discussion in February 2014 (click here) if the construction industry increase productivity by 0.3% this would result in an increase in GDP by $6.6 billion. I’m also a big fan of the construction industry because in 2010-2011 (abs) it employed an average 1,033,900 people. Our country and the society we live in is heavily contributed to by the Construction Industry and yep, you guessed it – Builders.
We can look at it as a battle between the Jedi Masters and the Sith Lords, the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, Darth Sidious and Jedi Skywalker. Or… we can look a little deeper, past the science fiction and the never-ending good and evil B.S. and find the real crux of the problem.
Can a house really be built properly for $150,000+ in under 12 months?
Properly meaning; complying too all Australian Standards, Building Codes, Regulations, and Industry Standards.
Maybe this whole thing is a chicken and egg sought of problem. Haven’t you guys heard of ying and yang before? Though the Jedi’s were ‘good’, why then were they tearing young children away from their parents and homes just because they had ‘the force’. And if Darth Vadar was so ‘bad’, why’d he save his son?
Sure, I’ll definitely agree that there are builders out there that personify a Dark Mole – I mean Darth Maul. But aren’t Builders people too? And isn’t that the other crux? People are just people, imperfectly perfect… They don’t have amazing acrobatic skills or mind-confusing hand-wavy techniques. I’ve never heard a builder say; ‘These are not the outward facing bricks you are looking for…’ I haven’t seen a Builder’s head office floating in space pretending to be a moon, when really it’s a Death Star.
And like all people, aren’t they constrained by the laws of physics? Which brings me back to my original question; can a house really be built properly for $150,000+ in under 12 months?
Has anyone bothered to find out? I’m sure because their businesses revolve around such a question, builders and their executive management teams would know the answer to that question. And having a firm understanding of economies to scale – thanks to my high school economics teacher – I would guess the answer would be: No, but if you did 50 of them all at the same time, yes.
I know right – SHOCK – HORROR – GASP – you’re not the only one building a house in this exact moment. Just on my street alone, there are about 3 different builds happening. What about your street? Next time you take a walk around your neighbourhood do a count. It might just surprise you.
The reason why I keep repeating this question is because to me it seems like there’s an expectation out there amongst consumers; that quality, at a cheap price, can be achieved within a 12 month time period. It’s fine to have expectations, but you might be shocked to believe the first thing I got taught in Construction School is this little diagram here;
Your house build is represented by a dot that can be placed anywhere in this triangle. But before you dot in your dot, you need to know; if you choose to put your dot in Quality’s corner, then the price will be high and the time will be long. If you want a cheap house and place your dot in the Cost’s corner, be aware that quality will be minimal and time long. If you want your house completed in a month and choose the Time’s corner, price will skyrocket and quality will be a tad shabby.
Of course builders aim to find the middle ground between these three boundaries in order to satisfy customer’s requirements. But you need to have in the back of your mind this understanding. Because whether you have 100% faith in your builder or not, they’re not Jedi Masters and they’re not Sith Lords. They’re just as bound by the laws that govern this universe as you and me.
Most residential builders separate their sales department from operations, I have a whole new blog post coming for the miscommunications and outright disasters this causes. But for now, and because I can hear you all asking; what can I do to ensure I have the right expectations and that the builder understands my requirements?
Simple: Communicate. Have a conversation.
And not one where the builder just presents options and you choose one. Get active, full on interrogate your builder about the triangle above if need be. Only through asking questions and participating in the conversations can we start moving towards a more productive and comprehensive service that benefits not just Builders and the Australian economy, but also the consumers and stakeholders.
I understand that you don’t know what you don’t know, so here are some questions to get the ball rolling;
- Although the house I have chosen is low cost, what potential benefits can you tell me I will gain if I chose the next price level? Will the materials be different? Will the time be shorter?
- How many houses based on this price package have been completed within the time frame you’ve specified?
- What are some delays you foresee in building this house over the next 12 – 18 months?
- What are some typical problems you as a builder might face during the construction of this house, where you may have to pass on costs to me?
- What is your process for remedying defects that arise within the four month defect liability period? And any structural defects that arise within the 6 year warranty period?
- What is the process of hand over? How does your company ensure they have constructed a quality product?
Those are some powerful questions above, and ones you should ask before signing any contract, approving any drawings, or depositing any money. Asking these questions will be like a Jedi Master to a Padawan. Watch them as they do a double take with their heads.
So good luck, and until next time…
Xox Construction Chick