How To Choose The Right Building Contractor

How To Choose The Right Building Contractor

So you want to build a second storey renovation but don’t want to end up with a cowboy builder or one who does a runner mid-project? It’s not a light decision when it comes to deciding on the best building contractor- so how do you make an informed choice? There is a big difference between a good builder and a rotten one that is likely to lead you to cause you much frustration and a burden on your wallet. Here are five key areas that can guide you into choosing the right building contractor for your second storey addition (aka first floor addition).


There’s no point looking for someone to build your second storey renovation, if you are unsure what additions you are looking for. Too many homeowners can get side-tracked by the logistics of finding the right builder without first answering the most important question- What type of house do you want?

By having a reasonable vision of what you are after in your second storey like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to be added; the positioning of the staircase; and whether you want a facelift for the exterior- you are able to set up a brief to guide your discussions with prospective builders.


Many heartaches can be avoided when you are embark on getting a second storey addition (aka first floor addition) if you set up a budget early on. Your budget should be realistic with a margin built in for the unexpected. If you set up a realistic budget for your renovation, then you are setting an important criterion for your brief in which to assess quotes from builders. You will be able to instantly cross out any proposals that don’t fit your budget requirements with minimal fuss. Having a good idea of how much you want to spend on your project, will assist prospective builders in knowing the goal posts and whether they are suitable or not to meet your design requirements.


Sometimes getting a sense of the working history of your builder won’t be available simply by asking questions- you need to also do your research like whether your builder has previously declared bankruptcy (this is a red-flag) or whether your proposed builder has any current or past building complaints by checking the NSW Fair Trading Complaints Register.

If you have never dealt with a builder before, there are some basic questions you should ask before you make any commitment to their services. First off, you want to make sure that you are only using a licensed builder, as anything less will put you at risk of defective work and creating a liability for yourself to resolve down the track. NSW allows you to search for licensed builders here.

You also want to make sure that the builder has appropriate insurances in place – such as Home Indemnity so that you are protected against financial loss in the case of a builder being unable to complete a project due to illness, death or becoming insolvent.


Second storey renovations are not straight forward exercises. You need to engage the services of an experienced builder, preferably one that specialises in second storey additions (aka first floor additions) so that you are getting the best value for your money and gaining the benefit of builders that have come across many building challenges, so they can make your dream home a reality.

Not only will an expert be able to assist you in navigating restrictions set by council regulations, they’ll also be able to provide solutions to important design questions such as:

  • What is the best second storey configuration so that space is maximised?
  • How high your second storey ceiling can go?
  • How do you maximise natural light to add extra aesthetic appeal?
  • What architectural plans will maximise views?

Extending upwards does add extra weight to the existing house and an experienced builder will particularly come in handy if you have an older home to see if your older style slab home is structurally fit to manage the extra weight.


Once you are satisfied that your builder has the experience to build your second storey renovation- you then need to source from the builder client testimonials. Ask any homeowner who has experienced a second storey renovation knows that at the end of the day it’s not just the finished product that counts- client satisfaction is also based on whether the project was finished on time, was built close to the initial quote and that there were clear communications with the builder and the homeowners on the stages and status of the project.

Don’t just take people’s word for it though- see for yourself. The right builder will make the time to sit down and chat through your second storey addition (aka first floor addition) vision. You should get a good feel from a builder if they are professional and knowledge base by asking them questions for yourself- like how long does the typically project take to complete and examples of their past work.

At Keystone, we know how apprehensive it can be when you are deciding on a builder for your second storey renovation. That’s why we encourage you to come and chat with us to workshop your dream build to see whether we are the right fit for the project. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

How To Choose The Right Building Contractor