Can I get a Relative or Friend to help build our new house?

Lauren O'Grady
February 10, 2022

We get it. Building a home is expensive. As soon as you receive the quote from your builder you start looking at ways to save money on the build. Then, you think about your brother or best friend who is a plumber or painter and you think they can do it for free or at ‘mates rate’. You’ve heard horror stories from other people that have chosen this path but you think, “We’ve known these people for ages, it’s not going to happen to us”. Take my word for it, it can and it will happen.

When we first started building family homes we wanted to make our clients happy so we allowed them to use their own trades for painting, electrical or plumbing and let me tell you it never worked out well for either us the client or the friend/relative. Therefore, we put a stop to it on our projects.

Let me explain the reasons why…..


These friends/relatives (more than likely) have full time jobs, therefore when it comes to your home you are the last on their priority list. They believe they can do the work after hours or on free weekends and if something comes up they will push your project back to suit them. Therefore, your builder’s project schedule is completely messed up by your family/friend dragging their feet. Your builder has a contractual agreement with you to build your home in a certain time frame and he/she can’t do that if an integral trade isn’t completing their work on time. This causes anger and frustration by the builder and the owner.


I don’t need to explain the importance of Communication on a job site again do I??

Many people underestimate the importance of trades communicating together on a project. For example, the plumber needs to let the cabinet maker know that there is a Sparkling water Zip Tap going in the kitchen that requires a special vent in a cupboard. The lines of communication on site are endless and when your builder excludes a certain trade from their scope of works this communication is completely broken. It then comes down to the owner’s responsibility to do the communication and in our experience this never happens or they don’t understand the importance of it. This leads to expensive mistakes being made on the project.


If you choose to have a friend/relative complete some of your build your builder will remove this scope of works from their Insurance.

An example of when this can become undone is if you get your friend/relative to install your Sparking Water Zip Tap and due to the lack of communication it’s installed without a required cupboard vent. Fast forward 6months and the Co2 cylinder under the zip tap explodes causing a lot of damage to the kitchen. Who is responsible? Is it the friend/relative? If so, how comfortable do you think you’ll feel asking them for compensation? They have helped you out by completing their works either free or at 'mates rates' and now you’re asking them to pay for the damage their workmanship (or lack of it) has caused. Could be a very awkward and upsetting conversation for everyone involved...

When you choose to use your family/friends to help in your project it puts a lot of pressure on the Builder and Owner relationship. The Builder blames the Owner for the lack of communication and the Owner blames the builder/trades for their lack of communication. It goes around and around in circles and unfortunately no one is the winner. We’ve seen families not speak to each other ever again, friendships at breaking point or even builders walk away from a project.

We understand your need to save costs during building but to what personal expense?

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