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Choosing the right Perth builder

By Trae Flett

They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. So when my swelling pregnant belly made it perfectly clear that we were fast outgrowing our tiny three bedroom, one bathroom, 100m2 house, the idea of extending rather than moving really appealed to us.

Now I’m not sure if it was a case of “pregnancy brain” but the idea of renovating with a newborn did seem like the easier option (hey, they sleep a lot, don’t they?). It wasn’t just my complete fear of moving house that cemented the decision; like with many people, access to schools and public transport plus our budget all played a part. Where we were had so much going for it including a massive block that we just wouldn’t get if we moved to a new estate.

But if it seemed like moving house was full of hurdles, choosing a great Perth builder felt like navigating a minefield! Because you can’t do much better than a personal recommendation, I took to Twitter to ask for suggestions. After researching the companies put forward by my followers, we sought quotes from our favourite four using plans we had commissioned to ensure the quotes would be for the exact same thing.

Company #1 came and told us that they only worked from their own plans, only used their own design teams and only used their own engineers – elements we had already paid for privately. I found the idea that they could only work from their own plans, not our own professionally drawn up ones that we owned the copyright for, completely ludicrous. What a money grab! Their quote was twice the price of the other companies.

Company #2 had some great ideas and a fairly reasonable quote, however I felt the man always spoke down to us if we asked a question or didn’t understand the “builder’s lingo”. On top of that he only ever spoke to Nicholas and barely even registered that I was there in the two meetings we had with him. I’m a 50% stakeholder in this decision, at least acknowledge my presence.

Company #3 was a one man show who we dealt with through emails only. He gave a great quote but without the backup of a dedicated team or standing arrangements with contractors we felt that it was too big a risk to take. Would we end up waiting weeks for a plumber or electrician? Would we stall at the end of each stage and the whole thing end up taking twelve months? With little kids in the house we wanted the build done as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Company #4 was Perth renovation experts, Exactus. We met with Ralph a number of times and found him to be friendly, knowledgeable and full of good ideas. After he’d left our place to start on our quote, I said to Nicholas “I hope his quote is good because I want him to build our house”. It may seem silly, but it was the little things he’d said and done, like taking off his shoes before he came inside because they were covered in sand from a previous building site; talking to both of us and taking the time to explain things to us but not in a condescending way and even having a conversation with our talkative three year old, ‘Tricky’.

When Ralph came back with an extremely competitive quote it just felt right. After checking that he was licensed (an absolute must!) it didn’t take long for us to ring him up and get the paperwork started! And that, is really when the fun began.

Next up: Contracts and applications and permits, oh my!

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