8 things to look for in a trustworthy builder

Lauren O'Grady
July 17, 2020

Trust. It's a very important aspect when building or renovating your home. How do you know if you can trust a builder before you sign a contract? It’s the million-dollar question people ask themselves when looking for someone to build their dream home. A builder may seem lovely and engaging and advertise their business with lots of glossy pictures of completed homes, but can they really be trusted?

All you have to do is watch an episode of A Current Affair and there will be a story about a dodgy builder – someone who has built a home that’s either incomplete or below standard and who refuses to take responsibility and fix their mistakes, leaving the owners high and dry. It’s no wonder the public don’t trust builders…

Here at L. O’Grady Constructions, we’ve been in the industry for 15 years and during that time we’ve heard our fair share of nightmare construction stories. This frustrates us to no end. As a company, we can sleep at night knowing our work is of the highest standard. We don’t take short cuts when building and we strive to make the process an enjoyable experience for our clients.  

So, when we hear people say “they never want to build again” or “we hated every minute of our build or renovation” we feel let down by an industry we love.

So, how do we change this?

It needs to start from the top. Many builders need training on how to run a business. What you’ll find with many low-quality builders is that they are great at their craft, but terrible at managing their books or knowing what their bottom line is as a business – for example, what they need to do to make a profit.

You want your builder to make a profit, because a profitable business is a sustainable business and a sustainable business is long-term. When builders aren’t making a profit, they may take shortcuts on your project. They’ll buy cheap materials, won’t follow processes and may rush elements of construction, which leads to substandard quality and an unhappy customer.

So, what makes a trustworthy builder? Here are 8 things to look out:

1. Find a professional

Someone who looks professional and clean, who takes their building business seriously, who takes the time to listen to clients and who provides excellent service and communication.

2. Long-term relationships

Ask the builder how long their trades and subcontractors have been working for them. Sub-contractors won’t work for unorganised, late payers or rude builders, therefore if they have had the same group of sub-contractors for a while, it’s generally a good indication that they are good are scheduling, making payments on time and delivering excellent results.

3. Speak to past clients

Ask your builders’ references how the builder conducted themselves on site, what the communication was like during the project, if they felt heard and if they would build with them again.

4. An expert in their field

Find a builder who will educate, guide you and listen to your needs and wants. Are they open and willing to chat to you at the preliminary stages of building or even before land is purchased? A high-quality builder, though busy, should be able to help with any questions before you start construction.

5. Processes and systems

You should always endeavor to engage a builder with processes and systems in place. This will ensure communication during the build, regular on-site updates and a guarantee that they can and will deliver your project on time and within budget.

6. Do they charge for quotes?

Quotes take time to put together and the more time and effort your builder puts into your quote, the more likely this is to be feasible and realistic. At L. O’Grady, our proposals are approximately 20-30 pages long, stating every detail of what will be in the home.

Builders who charge for quotes are more likely to have researched your project in depth and take you and it seriously. When getting a quote, you should be looking for an expert, someone who is going to put the time and effort into guaranteeing that the number you’re quoted at the beginning is the same (or very close) as what you’ll pay in the end. Find out more about building quotes in our blog.

7. Budget transparency

Open communication is paramount. You don’t want to spend time and money sourcing quotes for your project if the plans you have produced don’t reflect the budget you are working towards. If this is the case, a good builder will take the time to educate you and advise ways to get the plans and specifications to reflect your intended budget.

8. Communication skills

Does the builder get back to you when they say they will? Do they keep you up to date on your proposals during the quoting stage? If they don’t do any of this, it can be a clear indication of what they will be like during the construction phase, so run a mile!


There are some builders out there who give the construction industry a bad name, but these should not taint the entire industries reputation. We hope this blog has armed you with some great ways to have conversations with potential builders, so you can find a trustworthy builder to help bring your project to life. Good luck!

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