Strategies For Home Remodeling Projects In A Tough Economy

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Interior Designer?

Interior designers bring a lot of value to a home renovation or decorating project by helping their clients pinpoint their vision, inspiring them with the possibilities and managing all the details that will bring their dream to life. But how much does it cost to hire one?

The truth is that interior design fees vary — not only by firm but also by the scope of the project and the area where you live. To get a sense of the range, we interviewed 16 interior designers across the country. Here are some basics to know about what interior designers do and the cost of hiring one to work with you.

What Do Interior Designers Do?

Interior designers provide a range of services that take a project from dream to completion. They:

Create design concepts. Designers help their clients by developing a design concept, which includes the style, mood, color and functional goals for the project. They may use a combination of inspiration images and product samples to convey their ideas to you as you settle on a vision.

Create design plans. Next, designers turn that vision into a plan. They may recommend a specific layout for a new kitchen or map out how furniture and accessories will be arranged in a room. Some designers provide detailed 3D drawings of their plans, or they may work with an architect and engineers to produce these drawings. Some states have a certification or licensing process for designers and regulate the scope of structural work that designers may take on. Not all states require certification or licensing for pros working in residential design. However, these credentials can be one way to gauge a pro’s level of experience and knowledge.

Establish a realistic budget and help the client stick with it.

Select and design products, finishes and materials for the project. This can be anything from recommending paint colors to choosing a species of wood for the floor to suggesting specific storage details (lazy Susans or baking sheet storage) for inside your kitchen cabinets. This work is often more involved than selecting ready-made products and materials from retailers. Many designers work with manufacturers to create custom furniture pieces and window treatments for their clients. Often, these manufacturers work only with the trade (not directly with homeowners), so designers are able to select fabrics and custom detailing that make these pieces unique. Similarly, designers may work with cabinetmakers to design customized storage solutions for their clients.

How to Add On to Your Kitchen

A cramped kitchen can make even the most basic cooking and entertaining tasks challenging. If your home’s footprint isn’t quite enough to get the kitchen you crave, it may be time to add on. We caught up with interior designer Summer to get the scoop on time frames, permits and finding the right pro for the (big) job

How to Add More Space to Your Kitchen

The kitchen is often the hub of the home, and having a roomy and thoughtfully designed space is at the top of many homeowners’ wish lists.

Do you need a kitchen addition? If you are tired of living with a cramped kitchen that doesn’t function as it should, you can afford to invest in a new space and you plan to stay in your home long enough to enjoy all the work an addition entails, then a kitchen addition may be a good project for you.

A design pro can work with you to design a new kitchen that blends with your home’s overall architecture and that fits your personal style and your life. “Some of the most dramatic transformations happen when you expand the footprint of a home,”

Whom to hire. An interior designer, kitchen designer, architect or building designer can help see your project through from start to finish, including planning the addition, getting permits, choosing fixtures and finishes, and overseeing installation.

How to Refine Your Renovation Vision to Fit Your Budget

Matching your renovation dreams and dollars can sometimes feel like a challenge. But there’s a lot you can do to get the look you want at the right price. In the first story in this series, we laid out the steps in choosing the pros you will work with and setting an initial budget.

Here we’ll focus on how to work with your professionals to sharpen your renovation vision, understand its realistic cost, and refine the plan to match your budget when necessary.

Create Your Dream Plan

Once you’ve chosen the pro (or pros) who’ll be designing and drafting your renovation plan, you’ll move into a deeper conversation about your vision. To prepare, make a list of the things that are driving you crazy about your house. Collect images of homes that inspire you. Your chosen architect, designer or builder will likely ask you a range of questions about how you use the space and how you live day to day. He or she will also want to get a sense of the materials and styles you prefer.

These initial conversations are invaluable as architects and designers work through the stages of a project, from initial design plans to final drawings and permitted plans. This design-then-revise process is key to creating a plan you love — that also matches your budget. And it’s part of why coming up with a new home or renovation plan takes time

The next step is getting a measured drawing that shows the home’s existing conditions, or an accurate rendering of the house as it stands before renovation. “We measure the whole house and get an electronic copy,”

What to Know About Adding a Porch

When the weather is good it can be nice to get outside, whether dining at an outdoor table or sipping a beverage on a comfy chair as you watch the sun go down. And what better place to enjoy activities like these than from the comfort of your own porch?

Here’s what to know about working with a pro to build a porch on your home — including what to look for in a contractor and how much the project might cost. While it’s probably too late to get your porch built in time to enjoy this summer, now is a great time to get started so your porch will be ready for next spring.

What Is a Porch?

A porch has a floor, a roof and some sort of supports that hold the roof up. The roof is what makes a porch different from a deck — and it’s actually a pretty important distinction because if improperly engineered or installed, a roof could eventually sag or even, under extreme weather circumstances, collapse

Though many people think of a porch as an elevated platform with stairs that lead up to it, a porch doesn’t need to be raised off the ground or have stairs. Porches can have a variety of flooring types. They can be attached to the front, side or back of a home. These days, porches are used for more than just sitting: People equip them with dining tables, fireplaces, ceiling fans and even TVs.

What to Consider Before You Build a Porch

Is a porch allowed on my home? Check with your homeowners association, as not all neighborhood regulations allow porches to be built on existing homes. Associations may forbid adding porches to connected or disconnected townhomes, or other multifamily dwellings. “It’s also a good idea to check with your setbacks and deed restrictions,”

What to Know About Engineered Wood Floors

If you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting floor material with a classic look, you might want to consider engineered wood flooring. This material has the beauty of solid wood and the durability of laminate and can work with most design styles and in many rooms. Here’s what to know to decide whether this flooring choice could be right for your home.

What is engineered wood flooring? Unlike solid wood, engineered wood floors have a top or “wear” layer made of solid wood, which covers a multilayer plywood core. The thickness of the top layer and the core will vary depending on the design and the manufacturer.

In total thickness, engineered wood planks vary from as low-profile as one-quarter inch (6.35 mm) to as thick as three-quarters inch (19 mm, or the traditional thickness of solid-wood flooring). The thickness of the wear layer typically reflects the caliber of the product. The industry norm is 2 to 6 millimeters, with a thicker wear layer generally indicating a more premium product.

How much does engineered wood cost? Engineered wood can be less expensive than solid wood, though premium collections with thick top layers, artistic designs and enhanced durability can have price tags on par with solid wood. Engineered wood flooring materials cost from $3 to $15 per square foot. Installation labor runs $3 to $10 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the layout.

The advantages of engineered wood. Engineered wood flooring is available in a wide range of wood species, including oak, maple, hickory, birch, cherry and walnut, as well as exotic woods like African mahogany and tigerwood. It comes in a variety of widths ranging from slim to wide planks and is offered in specialty looks such as multitone, shown in this photo, or hand-scraped, shown in the previous photo.

Handle The Roof On Your Home Builder Like A Pro With These Tips

What questions should I ask a custom home builder?

The idea of building your own home probably has you dreaming of cabinetry details and window treatments at night. But the stuff of dreams can become a total nightmare when your homebuilder can’t execute on their promises. What’s more, a lack of customization might leave you wanting more.A builder’s prerogative is to woo you with model homes, glowing reviews, and even upgrades. But, before you sign any contract, make sure you ask these crucial questions. Outlining your expectations ahead of time can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

How many years have you been building in the area?

Ideally, you’ll want a builder that’s been performing residential construction in your area for at least five years. This familiarity operating in your area is important. They’ll know how to navigate building codes, inspections, and permits. They’ll know the area’s terrain, landscaping, and property lines. They’ll know a neighborhood’s livability, desirability, and property values. The custom home builder you choose should be a valuable resource to you; especially if you’re building in an area you’re not all that familiar with.

How much experience do you have and how is it relevant to my project?

Experience matters. You’ll want a builder that’s been in the game for awhile. Someone that’s built the type or style of home you want. Someone who answered the first question in a way that assures you they know the city or county you’re building in.

Does this builder work with a dependable, trustworthy, and skilled crew?

A builder is only as good as the crew they’ve assembled for your project. While you may trust the person you’re talking to or the people you meet, you must also ask about the crew they’re bringing to the job. What’s their skillset? Are a few tradesmen? Have they undergone background checks or drug screenings? Are they dependable? Do they show up for work? How well does the builder know their laborers, tradesmen, or subcontractors? How often have they worked with them?

How much can I customize?

Understand the materials your builder plans to use to achieve the look you desire. Image: Norris Architecture But some builders keep costs in line by offering a set number of floorplans and finishes, allowing for just a few cosmetic tweaks along the way. If you’re planning on a custom job, ask the builder if customization is limited to cosmetic choices alone. Some builders allow more extensive customization, like changing floorplans, upgrading finishes, or even designing a home from scratch.

Is your model home upgraded (and what comes standard)?

Don’t sign on the dotted line until you get a clear answer of which features in the model home have been upgraded. Builders want to show off their best work, so some model homes might have upgraded cabinetry, appliances, and even lighting packages that aren’t included in the base price of the floorplan.

How many homes do you generally build in a year? How many can you handle?

In addition to knowing how many years the builder has been in business, these questions will help you get a sense about the builder’s skills and capabilities. The numbers will likely vary from year to year, but the builder should be able to give you an average or average range of homes they generally build in a year.

Asking them how many they can handle just gives you some insight into their team’s capabilities. Depending on the answer you get, you’ll be able to get a sense of how transparent the builder is about their work and how well they know their team. A builder who answers too vaguely or indicates that there is no limit is not being transparent or upfront with you and may not have a clear idea of their capabilities and limits.

Do you have client references I can call?

You’ll want to make sure you get a few references from the custom home builder you’re meeting with. It’s expected that anyone you call as a reference will provide positive feedback. Speaking with previous clients will give you a chance to get a client-side, real-life view of what it’s like working with the builder you met with. Asking about things that surprised them, things they didn’t expect, and any challenges that came up during their project will give you valuable insights to what your experience with the builder could be.

Can I show your construction contract to my lawyer before signing it?

Does the builder’s construction contract give a clear guideline for your building process? Is it thorough enough to cover the worst of problems? Does it include insurance, change order procedures, warranties, construction time, disputes, financing, builder’s liabilities, budgets, specifications of construction, and allowances?

Are you licensed & insured?

This should be a quick question with a no hesitation answer, but you may be surprised. If you are using a lender to finance the construction, they’ll require the builder to provide proof of their licensing and insurance, but if you’re not financing, make sure you receive confirmation. On insurance, it’s important to confirm the builder is not only carrying General Liability and Worker’s Compensation coverage but is also providing Builders Risk, which is equivalent to Property Insurance during construction.

What’s your warranty, and how do you handle issues?

Any reputable builder will have a 1-year warranty, and some will even have a 10-year structural warranty. What you want to understand with this question is, how does the builder handle borderline warranty items? What happens if an issue comes up in month 14? Is it’s time up, or will he help you out? This is typically a great question to ask past customers as well.

Can I trust you?

Not a question that you might ask a builder directly, but more of something that you need to observe and make a decision for yourself. The bottom line, you can’t underestimate how important it is to like, trust and respect your builder. Building a custom home is a long term relationship that continues beyond the home’s construction for at least the 1-year warranty period. Regardless of how excellent their reputation is in the area if there is any reason you are uncomfortable, why would you trust that builder with one of your most important investments?

Things To Consider When Planning For Home Remodeling

Things You Need to Know Before Remodeling

1. Understand the Potential Return on Investment

If your main goal of remodeling is to increase the value of your home so that you have the highest return when you sell, then you should do return on investment (ROI) research. Remodeling projects that are low maintenance, good quality, and aren’t too costly have the highest ROI. Sorry, but hiring a contractor to build the swankiest kitchen you see on Pinterest won’t give you a high return on investment.

According to HouseLogic, mid-range kitchen remodel projects will give you a nice ROI of 81.8%. Mid-range remodel projects have beat out high end remodels every year. A typical mid-range kitchen remodel would consist of new floors, refacing cabinets, new countertops, and new appliances.

2. Research Your Neighborhood

Just because you have the funds to remodel your home with the best features doesn’t mean you should. Home values are driven by the surrounding local market and there’s usually a ceiling to the potential selling price of homes in a neighborhood. For example, if homes nearby typically sell for $250,000 at best, then you don’t want to put more than $50,000 worth of upgrades into a home you bought for $200,000. Ask an experienced Realtor® about current home values in your neighborhood.

3. Check Local Building Permits

Depending on the details of your remodel, you may need a building permit. You’ll probably need one if your remodel involves something large like changing the footprint of your house, building an addition, or altering a load bearing wall. If you’re simply refacing cabinets and putting in a new countertop, you won’t need one. It’s smart to call your local government’s building or engineering department to double check.

4. Take Pinterest With a Grain of Salt

Pinterest is great for getting ideas (and wasting time). Just remember that the most pinned and re-pinned pictures of dream bathrooms are most likely from luxury homes. So don’t make a poor financial move just so you can share a cute picture.

5. Leave Room In Your Budget

Like Stephen King novels, most remodeling projects will come with an unexpected twist. If $10,000 is the most you can spend, then budget something closer to $8,000 so that you have some wiggle room.

6. Understand Where Your Money is Going

According to Home Advisor, labor counts for about 30-35 percent of the cost, while material products will take up 65-70 percent. When it comes to kitchen remodels, most of your money will be going towards new cabinets if that’s a part of your plan. If you’re the handy type, you can save a LOT of money by doing all or part of the labor yourself.

How to Keep Track of Your Remodel Project

1. Become a list writer. Making lists is key when it comes to project management. It’s the only way to properly organize your thoughts and prevent any details from being forgotten.

The most important list is your scope of work, or specifications, document. This is basically a detailed list of everything to be done, from start to finish. If you’re dealing with one main builder who’s organizing all the work, then you’ll need to make sure he or she gets a copy, so the goals are clear and all the information is provided.

2. Make sure you’re all on the same page. If you’re coordinating separate professionals and subcontractors (cabinetmaker, plumber, electrician), then it would be worth indicating who’s responsible for each task. Give a complete copy of the specifications to all of them, so they’re all aware of what everyone is doing. Discuss the specifications with your subcontractors since they may be able to provide help and advice. A schedule is also useful, so you can keep track of progress and everyone knows who’s going to be on-site on which day.

3. Create subsections. In addition to your main specifications, it’s a good idea to have sublists for each separate element of your design. For example, your main specifications may say “install 6 x recessed LED downlights in ceiling,” but your lighting specifications will detail where they are to be positioned, the type of bulb, the hardware finish and so on. The more information you provide, the more accurate your quote should be and the less likely it will be for mistakes or misunderstandings to occur. It will also minimize any unexpected costs.

4. Plan everything ahead. Finalize your design before starting any work, rather than trying to do it as you go along. The process will be much more enjoyable without constant deadlines presenting themselves, and if you haven’t planned, you may find your options restricted based on work that’s already taken place.

5. Never assume. You know the saying. When writing your specifications or drawing your plans, never assume that someone else will know what you want unless you explicitly state it. Include every tiny detail, no matter how picky it may seem. As well as avoiding mistakes, it also prevents any disputes over what is and isn’t included in the quote.

Things Not to Do When Remodeling your Home

In most homeowners life there will come a time when remodeling and upgrading your current amenities will be a way of life. Whether you are wanting to add space to your rooms, upgrade materials, or because your home needs more functionality, taking on a remodeling job could be in your near future. Before you get started, there are several factors to consider.  While your favorite home and gardens show may make it look easy in a few days – here are 10 things not to do when taking on your remodeling home job.

Don’t assume you know how to do every home remodeling project:

Every DIY remodeling project isn’t considered equal. Before you decide which project to begin first at your home, determine what skill set and experience you have to execute your project. Many home projects will involve more expertise than others. While you may think all you need to do to replace a lighting fixture is detach the current fixture – you may forget that turning off the electricity to that circuit and other necessary requirements are necessary. Do your homework!

Don’t enlist friends and family to help you if they aren’t experienced:

In order to save money many homeowners think of hiring or asking their friends and family to help. This can lead to costly mistakes, injury, and damage to important elements in your home. While friends and family can be used for moving belongings, furniture, cleaning and other household “chores” – only let experienced family and friends assist with your home renovation.

Never assume that your budget won’t go over your estimation:

While you may have done your homework on how much your materials, labor, and miscellaneous remodeling components will cost, there always should be a budget for going over budget. Many remodeling projects will involve unforeseen circumstances that will not be conveyed until the project starts. Opening up walls can often lead to electrical, structural or plumbing surprises. Remodeling older homes can often unveil mold, pipes leaking or rotting and deteriorating wood. Keeping this in mind, create a lower budget than you think you will need, just in case.

Don’t risk your safety to get a home remodeling project done quicker or for cheaper

You may think this is self-explanatory but hospital emergency rooms around the world are filled with home improvement accident injury victims that could have been prevented. When working on high areas ensure you have the proper scaffolding, ladders, extension poles, and fall-protection safety wear to execute your job safely. If you are unfamiliar around high power tools, working around electricity and other technical portions of your home, hire a professional for your remodeling project.

Budget-friendly DIY home improvement projects

1. Clean your vinyl siding

2. Repaint the front door and update exterior accents

3. Apply removable wallpaper

4. Paint your walls

5. Refresh your cabinets

Remodeling Design Considerations

When you first begin to consider a home remodel, whether it’s a whole home renovation or a kitchen or bath transformation, cost and timeline are the most common concerns. However, there are some critical remodeling considerations that can be avoided with some careful planning.

Here are the top ten remodeling design considerations:


Whether you’ve purchased a home with lots of potential or have decided to give your existing home a facelift, it can be tempting to use trends and fads to influence your design. However, these in-today-out-tomorrow style statements often don’t age well. To make the most of your remodeling investment, keep structural, architectural, and key materials (such as floors, counters, and cabinets) timeless in design.


One of the most costly mistakes can be avoided by adequate planning and committing to a budget as well as to design and material selections. While there may be some minor modifications that occur with any home remodeling project, having a detailed plan in place can keep your project moving forward with minimal delays and without breaking your budget.


Pesky problems such as tight spaces, troublesome doorways, and lack of access are common symptoms of design challenges. Understanding how you plan to use the space is the first step in defining the design and recommended changes.


Beyond the obvious needs to renovate, such as updating to a more current or personal style, one of the most common complaints about lackluster rooms is the need for additional counter and storage space.


While lighting workspaces and primping areas are common sources for lighting, windows also provide an excellent source of both light and heat, especially during cold winter months.


Merge moisture, improper ventilation, and overpowering smells and it’s the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, and lasting odors. This is why ventilation is an absolute must in kitchens and bathrooms alike. Not only does ventilation draw out undesirable smells, but it also keeps the humidity level at bay. The end result is that your home will look and smell fresh, and the ventilation will protect your investment by ensuring that your home isn’t overtaken by mold, mildew, and rot that erode material stability.

Three Types Of Home Builder

How to Choose the Right Home Builder

Selecting the right home building firm for your needs and for the type of new home you seek is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your home buying process. Fortunately, there are some proven ways to speed up the research and selection process and to help ensure that you find a quality builder who’s a good match to construct your new home

Define Your Needs

While some builders construct a broad range of homes, many builders also specialize in a specific type of home, price range, or style. For example, not many firms build starter homes for first-time buyers and also multi-million dollar homes for affluent custom home buyers. The building materials, trade contractors and even the building process itself can differ greatly by type and price of home. Look for a fit here. Then, be ready to make sacrifices, as it isn’t always easy finding a home that meets all the criteria to be your dream home. In fact, a 2016 report from Bank of America found that 95 percent of first-time buyers are already willing to make sacrifices in order to make homeownership a reality.

Experience Counts

Every home building firm (including the most experienced and well-regarded companies today) once built their first home. And many new home building firms were started by experienced veterans of other builders. Don’t overly discount a new firm – especially if their team includes seasoned pros – but do look for strong experience overall and in the type of home you seek.

Are Past Homebuyers Satisfied?

Many builders offer customer references and referrals. If not, ask. And in either case, follow up. A few great questions to ask: Would you buy another home from this builder? Or recommend them to close friends or family? And don’t forget to ask for the key reasons why a past home buyer would or would not recommend a builder.

Is the Builder Licensed and Insured?

Not every state or area requires builders to be licensed, but make sure that you work with a licensed builder in such areas. Ask about the insurance that the builder and his or her trade contractors carry. Make sure that they and you are covered during the building process.

Tips for Choosing and Working With a Builder

You may have heard horror stories about problems with builders, budgets spiraling out of control and sites left half-finished. But the reality is that the vast majority of builders are both professional and capable, and you can do a great deal to avoid bad experiences simply through the way you choose, manage and communicate with them. Here’s why it’s worth laying the foundations for a good relationship with your builder — and how to do it well.

Don’t approach a builder too soon. It may seem logical if you’re thinking of having construction work done to start by approaching a builder, but don’t be too hasty. Builders are generally good at pricing once they know exactly what’s wanted, but asking for a price before you have any drawings or detailed information about the project is as good as inviting them to tell you simply what they think you want to hear.

Consider the scope of the project. Find the right kind of building company for your project. The kind of contractor suitable for a luxury retail project has to be highly organized, usually with multiple managers, a well-organized back office, and teams that can operate around the clock and produce exceptionally high-quality work at speed. Such contractors tend to be expensive and for most people would be too much for a kitchen addition or an attic conversion.

Establish whether you need a specialist or just a general builder. A really good general builder is suitable unless the work in question is unusual. For example, a good general builder is perfectly capable of converting an attic or building out a basement. You can, of course, go to a loft or basement company, and they, too, may do a great job. The most important thing is to find someone who will do good work for the right price

Aim for one point of responsibility. Rather than using one general contractor, it may seem wise to try to save money by directly engaging separate tradespeople, such as plasterers, electricians and carpenters.

How to Choose the Right Custom Builder for You

Congratulations! You’re taking the first steps toward building your own custom home. You’ve probably been thinking about your dream home for quite a while. Maybe even spent a few late nights perusing Houzz to get ideas. You may have already chosen the perfect lot or sketched out ideas for a floor plan. Wherever you are in this research phase, we are thrilled that you’ve found us. We make it our mission to provide as many helpful resources to people like you who are embarking upon this exciting custom homebuilding journey.

In this post, we hope to make an incredibly important decision a little less daunting for you. Selecting the right custom homebuilder is absolutely the most impactful decision you will make along the road to your dream home. Choose well and you will have a true partner and advocate. With the right builder you will avoid the all-too-familiar construction horror story and instead end up with a high-quality dream home as well as an enjoyable, smooth, and creatively fulfilling experience for you and your family.

When to choose your builder

The best time to choose your builder is either before you begin the design phase with an architect or very soon after engaging an architect. Bringing a builder on board early in the design phase will ensure that your home’s design and your desired budget stay aligned throughout the process. Actually, a good custom builder will do much more than that during this architectural design phase

Beginning your search

First, you should know that in the state of Texas anyone can be a builder. There are no licenses or certifications required by law here like there are in most other states. Because of this very low barrier to entry, there are hundreds of homebuilders in and around Houston, some better than others.

Dig deep in your research

Now for the fun part. Time to narrow down your list to your top two or three choices. You will want to do this by digging deep with online research AND by reaching out to them through their website or by phone.

most important factors when choosing a builder for your new home

Price and budget

There are specialist builders for first-time buyer homes, mid-range project homes, top-end custom designs, and for the very high budget there are luxury builders.

Reputation and references

Many clients want the perceived security of a household name, with the company’s volume of completed homes guiding their choice. It is very important to read reviews and speak to past or current clients before you sign. A good builder will have no issue with letting you speak to customers and they should be able to supply good, verifiable references.

Financial stability

In today’s highly competitive market, builders are cutting prices to keep busy. That looks good on paper, but cut prices are not sustainable in the long term because every business needs to make money to remain stable into the future.

Home style and preferences

Many builders specialise in certain styles. If you are building a complicated, undercroft three-storey home, don’t choose a small-project home builder who specialises in single-storey display homes. They probably won’t have the staff or trades to move onto a complex construction.


Most builders have a favourite area where their pricing is most competitive, so it’s wise to choose a builder that has a good sample of homes built in your proposed area.

How to choose the right builder for you

When you decide to build your next home, rather than buy it, there’s one thing you simply have to get right: choosing the builder.

Picking the right builder has the potential to make or break the entire experience for you, so it’s something you don’t want to rush.

Check their folio

You’ve no doubt got some idea about the type and style of home you’re hoping to build, so it’s important to find a builder whose skills best align with your plans. Paxino says this part of the process is usually easy, as most builders will have their projects displayed on their websites, or they will be able to provide you with a catalogue of homes they’ve built previously.

Find or ask for references

Some of the best information to assist you in selecting your builder can be gleaned by speaking to people who’ve dealt with them before. “You might be skeptical about who they’re going suggest – whether it’s their brother or someone they know,” Paxino says.

Go the extra mile

You’re going to be paying your builder hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of dollars to construct your home, so a few hours spent doing some extra reconnaissance will be more than worth your while. There’s nothing to stop you knocking on the door of people whose homes have been built by your prospective builder and asking for their opinion. There’s every chance this will be the best and most honest information you’ll receive.

Let’s talk costs

There’s no point in gathering building quotes first, Paxino says, because many of the builders may not be appropriate for your project. So do your research first, narrow the field, and only then start asking for prices from the builders who’ve made your cut. And remember: cheapest isn’t always best