Top tips from a top builder….
Alistair McLean
Category: Building

Posted: Tuesday, 8 November 2011 10:42 PM


At least once a month Secret Design Studio reads tips in the press about how a customer should select a builder, often written as a space filler in the homes section of the newspaper.

One of Secret Design Studio’s local builders who seems to be doing good things and going from strength to strength is Ducon Pty Ltd, run by Peter Mason and Roger Gribble.  They are based in Clayton and most of their quality projects are based in the bayside and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and down to Frankston.

Secret Design Studio got Peter Mason’s permission to quote his four top building tips that he has posted on his company’s website  Secret Design Studio really like these tips, as they are from the builder’s perspective, and so often in the press the tips are only written from the consumer’s perspective, without any consideration to the other half of the relationship.

Top tips in selecting a good builder (from a builder) …

  1. Unless you’re after a good dinner party story, (the one about the unreliable shonky horror building experience), DON’T choose the cheapest! We all buy from the same shops and have the same pool of contractors, so the only way to be cheap is to cut corners.


  1. When choosing your builder remember, building is not an exact science. Building is bringing together of many different elements in sometimes trying conditions. At times things don’t go as planned. Choose the builder who you trust can resolve the issues quickly, easily and cost-effectively.


  1. Remember the three keys to an all-round successful project. Time, cost and quality! You can’t build a quality job on time at no cost or a low cost high quality job with little time.


  1. Be part of the project, not in the way of the project. Have regular site meeting with your builder and ask questions. Do your homework. Be ready to answer questions and make decisions. Your builder should prompt you about things that need to be answered ahead of time so both parties can have things in place for every stage. This allows for a much smoother project.

Secret Design Studio would also like to add a few tips of our own;

  1. Different builders have different specialties and experiences.  Some builders work on commercial and industrial, such as factories, offices and warehouses, others work in retail and hospitality, shop fitouts, cafes etc, and others in new homes and renovations.  A builder who may be great at building warehouses, isn’t likely to be as good with a shop fitout due to the different scale and trades required.  It is exactly the same as going to a doctor. You don’t see a dermatologist for a broken leg,or a plastic surgeon for a head cold!  These specialists may be able to help, but it would be more efficient to get the work done by somebody with experience in the area.



  1. Don’t underestimate the skill set of a builder with experience in home renovation, they are the most specialized of builders.   If you are living in the home during a renovation, your builder needs to have excellent communication skills, respect for your family life, and a sense of humor.  A builder who constructs new homes has a much easier job than those who work on renovating homes, who have to contend with matching in to an existing structure and finishes, with an element of the unknown – see point 2 above.



  1. At all costs avoid a “mate’s rates” builder, who is your cousins brother-in-law as too many of these types of jobs end in tears.  Many builders don’t like paperwork, yet there should always be a written contract and professional plans and specifications, so that both the builder and the customer’s expectations match, and are realistic.  The cheap cost proposed at the start often blows out towards the end…