The value of renovation projects across the country has recently increased by 7% to $748 million, the highest level recorded since April 2016.
This shows the increased potential profits for builders in the renovation space. Here, James Hardie ambassador and founder of FutureFlip, Neil Hipwell shares his tips for builders to win over potential clients and deliver work that will turn those clients into advocates for your brand.
“Your relationship with clients has a defining effect on the overall renovation experience and result. Ensure there is a clear understanding of responsibilities and expectations at every point in the process,” says Neil. “As builders we need to protect the client’s best interests, manage our trades seamlessly and ensure the highest quality control on every part of the job,” he adds.
- Prepare background information
Clients have a lot of questions and your ability to answer them will influence how confident they are in you and your services. Make sure you are fully licensed and insured. Prepare information about your experience, including how long you have been in business and the type of projects you’ve worked on. If possible, have at least three recent finished builds which showcase your expertise that you can direct clients to.
- Have clear contracts
It can be easy to underestimate our knowledge of the building process, so it’s important to make every step as easy to understand for the client as possible. Start with detailed fixed prices or cost price contracts. Master Builders Association has a range of examples to use as a guide. Be clear and outline each item from the project in the contract. Specify any variations during the process, such as change in materials so that all involved parties are aware of the change in cost. To avoid any misunderstandings or issues, ensure all communication is included in print.
- Importance of a brief
Clients will often have many ideas for their renovation, so it is important to work with them to develop a strong brief for clarity and aligned expectations. The brief should include a vision board capturing the desired look, as well as the functional elements of the home. This will help you counsel the client on options they may not have considered to better suit their needs. For example, Linea™ Weatherboards are ideal for people who like the look of timber, but premium fibre cement boards have the added benefit of being resistant to warping, flaking and damage from moisture and fire, meaning residents can enjoy their home without worrying about continual maintenance.
- Communication is key
Keep up communications with the client throughout the project to build the relationship and identify and resolve any problems early on. Be prepared to answer questions about the build early on, as retrospective changes to the work can be time consuming and change the cost. Confirm the preferred method of communication and inform the client of your standard turnaround time for responding to messages or questions. Whenever possible, meet on-site so you can explain technical details of any issues clearly.
- Create word of mouth
A good referral can earn you new work, and no one is better placed to recommend you than a happy client. This makes it important to finish projects on a good note, so ensure all loose ends are tied off before you hand over the home.
A comprehensive inspection list should be agreed upon with the client so you can rectify any issues. Refer to this and the brief during a walk-through of the home to confirm the client is happy with the renovation and be available to answer any follow ups has once the project is closed. When they are completely happy with the work, ask them to be a case study to showcase to new prospects.
Find out more tips on home renovation with the James Hardie Home Renovation Guide. What’s more, Neil has created two videos with more business advice for builders. These feature the Design Ideas section of www.jameshardie.com.au, which offers inspiration and info on residential and commercial builds, compliance issues and trends from Hamptons to modern looks.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics