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Selecting A Builder

Selecting A Builder

Finding the right builder to suit your job is not always easy. A lot of people work on the referral method, but this can be complicated if no-one you know has done the kind of building project you want to do.

To help you find builders in your area, we have a number of builders listed who build homes that will add value and last well into the future. To find a Future-Proof Builder, click here.

Another resource is the Registered Master Builders Federation. They represent New Zealand’s premier building and construction companies and have 1800+ member companies: or you can have a look at the Register of Licensed Building Practitioners.

Things to consider when selecting a builder:

  • You need to make sure the builder you choose is properly qualified, and has experience in the type of building or renovating you are doing.
  • Ensure you get on well with your builder. You will be spending the next couple of months with them either in your home (when undertaking a renovation) or even longer with a new home.

Questions to ask your builder:

  • Can you see examples of their work?
  • What other jobs have they got on at the moment (you need to be sure your builder has the time to dedicate to your project)
  • Discuss the type of contract, what work was not included in their submission and why?
  • What is the expected duration of construction?
  • What happens if there is a work defect?
  • Who cleans the site?
  • How often will there be site meetings and where?
  • Do they have the required insurance?

Engaging Your Builder

When engaging in a contract with your builder, there are different types of contracts you should be aware of:

A full contract

This is the most common contract, the builder looks after the job from the beginning to the agreed end. You determine when the end is, for example when everything is complete or perhaps when it is ready for painting. The builder supplies all materials and arranges subcontractors.

A labour-only contract

This is where you manage all the paper work, subcontractors, materials, and the builder. Unless you have a thorough understanding of the building industry or are planning to manage your project as a full time job, think carefully before taking this option as it can be extremely time consuming and stressful.

A managed labour contract

This is where you manage purchasing the materials, subcontractors, etc and the builder manages the day to day running of the project – it is important to be very clear about who is responsible for what and when to avoid any disruptions and delays. Always seek independent legal advice when entering into a contract.

IMPORTANT: Get a written contract from your builder, including details of their guarantee, insurance, health and safety plans, and payment schedules.

It is a good idea to keep copies of your contract for your own reference and for subsequent purchasers, so that if something goes wrong later on there is a paper trail to work out who is responsible. This is particularly useful for the person who buys your house and doesn’t know who to contact when the house develops problems at a later date due to poor workmanship. The warranties may still be able to be invoked, depending on how much time has passed.


It is good practice to invite tenders from at least three builders. Be open about this. Honesty is always the best policy, and if builders know there is competition for the job, it may help you get a sharper price.

If you are managing the job yourself and are unsure of what the costs should be, consider getting an initial estimate from a quantity surveyor (QS). To find a QS, check out the New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

For a thorough outline of the tendering process, including how to accurately price up your project, inviting and evaluating tenders, and explaining different types of pricing, have a look at Consumer Build.


To make changes to a contract, you can rule out by hand what you want to delete and write in the changes. You and the builder will both have to initial the changes. Be careful of what effect the changes might have on other clauses. Clauses in a contract are often interrelated. Finally, make sure that changing the contract won’t affect any guarantees. If you have any doubts seek legal advice.


A building contract will often specify the types and amount of insurance cover required. It is essential that for all building work that insurance cover is taken out to indemnify the builder and building owner against loss resulting from:

  • Accidental damage to the building (builder’s all-risks policy)
  • Accidental damage to existing buildings during alterations (extension of existing household policy)
  • Accidental damage to adjoining property (public liability)
  • Injury to other persons (public liability)
  • Theft of materials, tools, fittings and appliances

View more guides

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Selecting A Builder

Finding the right builder to suit your job is not always easy. A lot of... Read more.

Building Your Home

Once you have fulfilled all legal requirements by obtaining all necessary consents and insurances are... Read more.

Taking Possession of Your New Home

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