The best builders and renovators in Canberra

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Builder on site

Luke van der Linden, owner of Fresh Renovation & Construction, one of Canberra’s most recommended builders. Photo: Region Media.

Building a new home, or renovating or extending your existing home, is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so using a skilled and reliable builder is essential. They create the place you’ll live in for a long time. They bring your vision to life.

To protect your investment, and keep your stress levels in check, you want to work with an experienced, value-for-money builder who takes pride in their work and has evidence of completing successful projects.

Experienced builders have a wealth of knowledge to draw on and are well positioned to provide suggestions, recommendations and advice in line with your goals, budget and deadline. This includes whether to extend and renovate or knock down and build.

In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a builder, and share where to find the best in Canberra.

Extend and renovate or knock down and build?

The first major decision an experienced builder can assist with is whether to knock down and build, or extend and renovate. More homeowners are seizing the advantages of staying put, in the location they have come to know so well, by increasing the size of their home to suit their lifestyle.

Choosing a builder with a proven track record in extending and renovating is key. They’ll transform your existing structure by increasing living space, improving functionality, maintaining your home’s character and introducing modern elements to enhance its liveability. A renovation specialist will explore opportunities with you and present ideas you might not have thought of.

What makes a great builder?

When you engage a builder, you entrust them with one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make – your home. Having confidence in their ability to do a great job is key to making your project enjoyable, including building new or extending and renovating.

It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a builder:

  • Experience with your chosen building needs. Not all builders will be experienced in what your renovation project demands, so assess their skills and previous work against your priorities. Some specialise in small-scale renovations and extensions, others in major projects. Do your research and ensure your builder can prove they have the right experience. Check out their portfolio of finished projects online.
  • Find a good fit. Extending or renovating your home is a major project, so you’ll want to work with a builder you feel comfortable and confident with. Interview each builder and if you’re not 100 per cent comfortable with ”the fit” or level of trust, move on.
  • References. Ask for references, remembering that a quality builder confident with their experience record will be more than happy to pass on former client details. Take this a step further by asking the builder to provide names for a couple of suppliers and key trades they’ve worked with to test the strength of their relationships. Research reviews online.
  • Strong communications. You want a builder who is friendly, treats you with respect and is a strong communicator. Your renovation specialist should respond to queries quickly, send quotes promptly and keep you informed as your project progresses. With renovations, it is common to face delays, including those caused by unexpected circumstances such as bad weather, but a great builder will keep you informed on changes in deadlines.
  • Comprehensive quote. Seek comprehensive quotes from multiple builders who specialise in renovations to ensure you’re getting a fair price and avoid scope creep. The more detailed and accurate your quote, the more confident you’ll be. Also ask if the builder’s renovation work is backed by warranties.
  • Credentials. Ask builders to confirm they’re properly licensed and insured (including with public liability). Don’t hesitate to ask about their formal qualifications and whether they belong to professional associations or industry bodies. Verify that they’ve completed work similar to what you need done.

The best builders and renovators in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintained a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Homes by Howe

Homes by Howe

Homes by Howe is an award-winning custom home builder. With over 15 years of experience, Homes by Howe has been building brand new homes, performing knock-down-rebuilds, and working on extensions for families all across Canberra.

Homes by Howe recognises that your home is not only your largest asset, but also the place where your memories are made, where you must feel safe and happy. That’s why they strive to ensure that every build is a smooth and stress-free experience. With an up-to-date construction program and direct access to the construction team, Homes by Howe promises reliability and quality every step of the way.

What’s more, their process is all-inclusive. From demolition, pools and landscaping, asbestos removal, contour surveys, to site works, engineering consultations and government fees, Homes by Howe promises to handle everything throughout the construction. Along with transparent pricing and air-tight timelines, you can trust that your home will be built on time and budget.

On Google, ‘Local Guide’ Sam Brunno writes, It was such an amazing and great experience building with what I think is the best builders in Canberra! We absolutely love our custom home, it was done ahead of schedule and the quality is top notch!”

3 Tudawalli Place
Chapman ACT 2611
Fresh Renovation and Construction

Fresh Renovation and Construction

FRESH Renovation and Construction is a trusted renovation specialist. Owned and operated by local builder, Luke van der Linden, the FRESH Renovation team specialises in extensions and large-scale renovations across the capital.

With incredible attention to detail and nearly 20 years’ experience in the industry, FRESH has earned a reputation for crafting quality, flawless renovations that retain the character of a home while creating harmonious additions and extensions. Each project undertaken transforms a house into a beautiful and unique place to live.

Based in Curtin, FRESH Renovation and Construction works with each client from project conception to completion, providing advice and recommendations on the most efficient, economical and practical ways to achieve their ultimate vision. They deliver renovation and extension projects on time and within budget, going to great lengths to keep clients informed at every step.

With so many years in the industry, FRESH has established an extensive network of trusted contractors, trades, draftspeople and architects to ensure each project is seamless. FRESH Renovation only works with partners who match the quality and style of their services. There are no unknown or untested parties on any FRESH project.

FRESH Renovations believes renovating or extending is a practical alternative to a knock-down rebuild. Maximising existing structures can reduce time and save upwards of $200,000. It’s also a more sustainable choice, with less wasted involved when compared to demolition.

The FRESH team is passionate about restoration work for its value in keeping the unique characters of a home and crafting exceptional and tailor-made spaces, enabling clients to remain in the area they love.

On RiotACT, satisfied customer Heather Mann says, “Luke and his team from Fresh Renovation and Construction recently completed some work for us at our property. We very highly recommend them, they were very professional, polite and completed the work to a very high standard.”

Hardwood Projects

Hardwood Projects

Hardwood Projects provides high-end carpentry and high-quality timber joinery and furniture services. Indeed, Hardwood Projects is Canberra’s only company qualified in all three areas of expertise.

With diverse knowledge and extensive experience, Hardwood Projects provides excellent value for all design and build projects. Hardwood Projects specialises in one-off custom hardwood carpentry and even has an in-house steel fabricator.

Hardwood Projects has an eye for design and detail. The team is creative and offers furniture-grade carpentry service with value-for-money 100 per cent guaranteed.

Owner and Director Luke has 17 years’ experience in the industry and puts his heart and soul into every project. The team at Hardwood Projects is professional, passionate and punctual. Service is friendly, approachable and reliable, on projects large and small.

On Facebook, Katie Ley wrote, “A perfectionist that is professional and personable. Quality work that is always done right the first time.”

Facelift Renovations and Construction

Facelift Renovations and Construction

Facelift Renovations and Construction have built a stellar reputation for their repair, renovation, and rebuild services. Operation across both residential and commercial markets, they have been breathing new life into the region’s properties for over seven years.

Boasting a team of highly skilled and fully certified trade professionals, Facelift Renovations and Construction specialise in delivering premium turn-key solutions for clients. From design, product selection, implementation, and handover they do the heavy lifting for you. Their all-encompassing capability extends across all core construction facets from electrical, to plumbing, joinery, and tiling.

With a focus on quality client outcomes, Facelift Renovations and Construction ensure each project is finished to exemplary standards. Clear communication, timely trades, and utmost efficiency are all hallmarks of their offering. For this team, projects are only considered complete once clients are completely satisfied with their delivery. Add to this their aftercare warranty for added peace of mind. For the renovation of your dreams Facelift Renovation and Construction are an excellent choice.

Tradies standing in front of Parliament house

Facelift Renovations and Construction are one of Canberra’s most recommended renovation and construction companies . Photo: Holly Williams.

Lucinda Cooper shared this review on Google, “We absolutely love our newly renovated bathroom, ensuite and laundry. The tiling looks totally amazing! The Facelift team were extremely easy to work with, and their attention to detail was impeccable. We would recommend Facelift for any tiling services or home renovation!”

Natura Homes

Natura Homes is a custom luxury home builder in Canberra. Its team is up-to-date with the latest eco-friendly home solutions, including hybrid solar systems, swimming pools, airtight/low energy, home automation systems and more.

The team of experts at Natura Homes, which includes interior designers, architects, building biologists and engineers, is big on sustainability and the use of healthy materials, ensuring they build luxury homes that are efficient and comfortable.

Natura Homes provides personalised service every step of the way and guarantees superior quality and high levels of client satisfaction. This starts with the first appointment (free of charge), to handover and through the company’s unique 24-week maintenance period.

Satisfied customer Anthony Pesec said on Google, “Natura Homes renovated my residential rental property. Their advice was invaluable, and they were very patient with my slow decision making! All work was done in a professional manner with care to cause as little disturbance to the occupying tenant (who is delighted with the results). All in all, I'm extremely happy with the finished product and will confidently recommend Natura to my friends and family.”

Take a look at our articles on the best bathroom renovation companies, best kitchen renovation companies and best architects in Canberra for more information on how you can maximise your building project.

If you’re interested in organising your building project yourself, check out our articles on the best joiners, the best bricklayers, best flooring specialists, best house painters, best landscapers and best fencing contractors in Canberra.

To explore smart-home options, check out our article on the best home automation system installers in the region. And, to make your new house a home, check out our article on the best furniture stores that Canberra has to offer.

Your experience with builders and renovators in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any Canberra builders? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right builder or renovator?

The type of renovator or builder you choose will likely be influenced by the size and complexity of your project. You’ll certainly need one who is fully licensed, insured and experienced. Other factors are experience with your type and scale of project, how long they’ve been in business and testimonials from customers. You’ll also want someone you’re comfortable working with.

Where should I start looking for a builder or renovator?

A great starting point is a professional association such as the Master Builders Association (ACT). Check the ''Find a builder'' section on its website. Also research online for names and ask your architect if you’re using one. Real estate agents you know may have insights and so might friends or colleagues with first-hand experience.

What can I expect from my builder or renovator?

Definitely expect a professional approach and strong communications so you’re clear on project steps and kept up to date. You can expect your builder or renovator to meet deadlines, unless there are extenuating circumstances you’re informed about, or unforeseen circumstances that can impact on a project (including crazy weather).

Should I get more than one quote?

It’s wise to get more than one quote, especially if you’re project is big and/or going to cost a lot. When seeking quotes, do so in a consistent way so you can compare apples with apples.

How much do builders and renovators charge?

This depends on many factors, including the type, size and timing of your project, as well as its location. Also, different builders and renovators have different skills and levels of experience that can impact on costs. The best approach is to meet a builder or renovator and work through your project. Then ask for detailed and itemised quotes so you can see what they’re charging for.

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Jonathan Pickering11:26 am 18 Jul 22

I’d like to support the recommendation for Fresh Renovation and Construction. Luke and his team did a great job renovating our house.
Luke put a lot of effort into submitting a thorough and competitive quote. His carpenters and tradespeople worked well together and their work was of a high standard. The build took place during a challenging period, with the second Canberra lockdown happening at the start of the project, and having to contend with supply delays across the industry. Even so, Luke worked hard to keep the project on schedule and brought it all together in good time. Luke was on site just about every day and made himself available to answer any questions we had, and he had a knack for coming up with constructive and practical solutions. The team were always courteous and kept the site tidy, which helped a lot while we were still living at home during the earlier stages of the build. We’d definitely recommend Fresh if you’re considering getting your place renovated or extended.

Andrea Sheather4:48 pm 10 Mar 22

L&J Designs and AES Homes. Jayde and Lisa (L&J Designs) and AES Homes (Adam) did an absolutely amazing job for us. We renovated 2 bathroom, laundry, master bedroom and walk in wardrobe. Our old laundry was horrible, with just a sink, an angled wall and two doors. Now I have the lots of storage, a beautiful sink and bench, plenty of cupboards and it works so well. They turned a tiny main bathroom into a luxury bathroom with spa, two sinks, niches, shower and spa (including TV). The walk in wardrobe is brilliant and the Ensuite just fantastic. They drew up plans, designed and scoped everything out and worked closely with our builder AES Homes (Adam). They all made the whole process so streamlined and we ended up with a fantastic result. Would highly recommend L&J Designs and AES Homes

SALT Renovations! Recommended by a work colleague and they proved to be absolutely fantastic. Punctual; professional; quality work; and courteous. Their subbies were fantastic also. Ollie dealt with us personally and assigned a work manager to be our liaison who visited almost daily to check on progress by the tradies and to see if we had any concerns that they could rectify. We would use SALT Renovations again in a hearbeat!

Personally knowing the team at Mastro 5 Design, they work hard to deliver quality builds and always put their clients satisfaction as a priority. Great service from start to end.

Steve Anderson1:54 pm 07 Jul 21

Unlike one of your commentators we had an appalling experience with Build Professional some time ago. A complete shambles from start to finish, no quality control, poor communication, shoddy work – many things had to be re-done. Couldn’t even build a planter box square – I had to point out to them it was way out of square (they didn’t even notice) and have it knocked down and re-built.

Xinglong Fan9:55 pm 11 Jun 21

Avoid Prostyle Building Group. Very poor work ethic and unprofessional.

Stay away from Confident Building. Very dishonest builder. He will find ways to add variations to rip off the poor customers. Also very poor quality of work.

Fresh Renovation is top notch – skilled, hardworking craftsmen, great communication, organised and professional, great knowledge and commitment to quality. Highly recommend

Heather Mann9:37 am 05 Jun 20

Luke and his team from Fresh Renovation and Construction recently completed some work for us at our property. We very highly recommend them, they were very professional, polite and completed the work to a very high standard.

Avoid. InsideOut Enterprises. Absolutely poor quality of work . Despite being advised by Access Canberra to complete potentially deadly fall hazards, InsideOut did not give a stuff. Happy to show anyone their handiwok.

I used Fresh Renovations for an old extension that was knocked down and rebuilt beautifully. The quality of their work was outstanding as is their work ethic and attitude. Luke suggested options I had not thought of with sound knowledge, professionalism and attention to detail.

Status living. We did a knock down rebuild and they were fantastic throughout the whole process. Our finished product is amazing and couldn’t be happier

Rachel Mills10:19 am 25 May 20

We have recently used Fresh Renovations for our home renovations. Our experience was an extremely positive one, Luke was very professional, reliable, honest and holds himself and his team to an exceptionally high standard of workmanship. Our build was on time, in budget and was stress free. Luke was very knowledge and his advice and guidance allowed us to end up with a home that is not only beautiful but also environmentally friendly.

Just thought I’d mention the guys at NDA Projects – they’re brothers working in the Canberra region (I believe they’re building out in Googong at the moment). Each of them specialise in a specific area, they’re really friendly and have been an absolute pleasure! They have a site https://ndaprojects.com.au/ but I’d suggest talking to Alex – his phone number is on that site as well

Another shout out for NDA Projects. Alex, Nick and the crew just finished adding a new room and double garage to our house. They’ve done a fantastic job working with us the function and style we wanted. If I ever need to build or renovate again I’ll be giving them a call.

AlwaysCheckYourBuilder10:33 am 12 Aug 15

Please everyone, there a few ways to check out a prospective builder before you sign anything.
Always do a free licence check, actually ring their references and ask questions like “did the costs exceed the original quote?” “How much longer than expected before the project was finished?” and always do a background check. Free licence check and background reports can be accessed through http://www.alwayscheckyourbuilder.com.au
The website has some pretty good contract advice for buyers too.
(and yes I am one of the researchers at the site)

Hi everyone,
My name is Ryan, I am a young builder and qualified electrician. I have been involved in the canberra building world for quite a while. In canberra we really do lack reliable builders that will produce good qualty workmanship.
I have teamed up with another young local builder to create a company different from the rest. Together we want to produce extremely high quality results. We focus a lot of energy on the secondry dwelling (granny flat) construction and home modification for disabled familys. There is a real need for a more sustainable and energy efficient aproach to building in canberra, CoHouse uses a form of insulated pannel whenever possible as it is extremely good insulation and very strong. Together with energy efficiant electrical products we have been able to produce secondary dwellings with up to a 8 star energy rating.
Because we are such a new company we are trying to keep the cost down for the client as much as possible to show you our quality of work.
please feel free to email us on info@cohouse.com.au
regards, Ryan

These guys are really good, http://www.mastro5design.com.au/
Ask for Pietro, 0413 133 362
They do everything and I would highly recommend them. They did some work on our house a while back. Really good bunch of guys, easy to deal with, reliable, honest and well priced.
They specialise in solar passive heating for new homes which ticks your energy efficient criteria.

Future Building Company. Have done a number of things around our place and also for our parents in law. Well priced, reliable and quality projects.

Check out http://www.beforeyoubuild.net.au . They can conduct due diligence on your intended builder before you sign a contract with them.

And he’s done energy efficient homes before… He knows what’s involved!

Look in to Exceptional Constructions. They did a fantastic job for us. V friendly. V honest. Pleasure to have around and trustworthy. We had an unexpectedly very positive experience!

Hi Mate,

If you are looking for sustainable, energy efficient? new home that does not look like the third house on the street I would reckon that you look into Mud Bricks as well – http://www.yourhome.gov.au/materials/mud-brick? . The houses made of mud bricks have a character of its own and have other benefits like Sound insulation?, ?Fire and vermin resistance? etc. Had visited one of my dads friends house in Nowra which was built using Mud Bricks , they had the personalised hand prints of the little kids. Apparently they are called Personalised mud bricks. The mob who did was http://www.mogomudbricks.com.au/? . When the money is saved up for the next house, I will surely be using Mud Bricks.

My 2 cents.

McGreggor said :

I would like to encourage you to touch base with Laros Technoligies if efficiency is a high priority

The most efficient building is one that is designed like an Esky, airtight and insulated. Thermal mass isn’t so much of a concern if you meet those first two requirements. Then include heat recovery ventilation and heat pumps and you have a world class home in terms of efficiency

If you havent heard of the concern of Passive House I strongly encourage you to learn of it so you have a full picture (it is much more than solar passive design!).

It is a voluntary building standard that far exceeds what section J of the building code merits.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house

Disclaimer – I have just started working at Laros Technoligies, we provide Passive House certified products and can assist on the design work as consultants.

ps thank you for the comment 66rainhailorshine99

Good suggestion that a person building a house learns about energy efficient building first.

The advantage of thermal mass (with insulation) is that you don’t need heat recovery ventilation and heat pumps. I live in a house that doesn’t need that. I have no air-conditioning and rarely heat. The mass keeps the temperature comfortably stable year round. The mass, as a side effect, also makes for a quieter house. The major disadvantage is that it can be hard to get a mobile phone signal.

I would like to encourage you to touch base with Laros Technoligies if efficiency is a high priority

The most efficient building is one that is designed like an Esky, airtight and insulated. Thermal mass isn’t so much of a concern if you meet those first two requirements. Then include heat recovery ventilation and heat pumps and you have a world class home in terms of efficiency

If you havent heard of the concern of Passive House I strongly encourage you to learn of it so you have a full picture (it is much more than solar passive design!). It is a voluntary building standard that far exceeds what section J of the building code merits.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house

Disclaimer – I have just started working at Laros Technoligies, we provide Passive House certified products and can assist on the design work as consultants.

ps thank you for the comment 66rainhailorshine99

oh no, recommend you dont buy a block before investigating and quoting builders. we did and it was a disaster. lowest quote in canberra was 600k for a 12 square solar passive house, this was build cost only the land was 400k total required was 1million. needless to say we sold the block as quickly as we could and purchased existing for half the price for the twice the size one double the size land. new builds are waaayyy over priced in canberra.

You can’t go past Classic Constructions. I know they’re working on a home at the moment using Laros technologies, triple glazed windows, double wrapping system and more. They design homes from scratch and can deliver the best energy efficient options to suit any budget.

Classic Constructions recently completed (June 2019) my new home at Denman Prospect. If you would like to know about my experience with this builder then feel free to email me at trehan28@outlook.com

MrPC said :

You mentioned Jigsaw Constructions. They’re pretty much the gold standard for energy efficiency in Canberra, but that’s not saying much.

Unfortunately they’re too popular for their own good. Expect to wait a year to even get to the front of their queue.

Whoever you choose, the house will be compromised by Canberra’s tiny and poorly orientated blocks and our byzantine planning regulations. At least in other towns the blocks are big enough that you can tilt the house off-square so that you get a long wall of windows facing as close to solar north (about 12 degrees west of magnetic north) as is possible. Here your postage stamp sized lot forces you to build the house at a suboptimal angle, unless you paid extra for a block that’s well oriented.

“You mentioned Jigsaw Constructions. They’re pretty much the gold standard for energy efficiency in Canberra”

I had a quick look at their site, but I couldn’t find what their internal walls are made from. Do you know? They need to have mass, such as concrete or brick to be really effective. Orientation and good insulation alone are not enough. In fact, they say on their site, “It is standard procedure for Jigsaw houses to use efficient electric appliances for space heating (small radiator panels)” If you need these heating panels your house is not built to high energy efficient levels. A house that is, and there are houses in Canberra that don’t need in built heating, don’t need “small radiator panels”.

Their are building firms and architects that do energy efficient houses in Canberra. See my previous post for examples. Do your research on what a truly energy efficient home is for a Canberra climate. Learn what makes a good double glazed window for example, and what many builders supply as standard might be the cheapest (and worse) that they can call a double glazed window. Check the gap between the glass, whether the frame has thermal breaks, type of glass, etc. Choose your own windows; don’t take the builders word for it (without proof) that they work well enough. A bad aluminium double glazed window without thermal breaks is no better than a single glazed wooden framed window for example. Check what the internal walls are made from, the insulation, etc.
Then after your house is designed correctly and built correctly from the right materials, look forward to needed no cooling, and most winter days no heating.

You mentioned Jigsaw Constructions. They’re pretty much the gold standard for energy efficiency in Canberra, but that’s not saying much.

Unfortunately they’re too popular for their own good. Expect to wait a year to even get to the front of their queue.

Whoever you choose, the house will be compromised by Canberra’s tiny and poorly orientated blocks and our byzantine planning regulations. At least in other towns the blocks are big enough that you can tilt the house off-square so that you get a long wall of windows facing as close to solar north (about 12 degrees west of magnetic north) as is possible. Here your postage stamp sized lot forces you to build the house at a suboptimal angle, unless you paid extra for a block that’s well oriented.

“We are looking to build a sustainable, energy efficient”

If you are looking to build this, in Canberra the house needs to have plenty of internal mass (Concrete/brick/stone, etc internal walls and floor), large north facing windows to all main rooms (such as lounge, dining and bedrooms). If a builder’s designs don’t have this, they are not building an energy efficient design for Canberra.
Doing a quick internet search, none of the homes mentioned here so far by you or others appear to be of energy efficient design.
Here’s one firm that does solar design. Not cheap though. Note the size of north facing windows. http://strineenvironments.com.au/
Perhaps speak to TT Architecture as well, and there would be others too I imagine. An energy efficient design in Canberra means no air conditioning is needed in summer and almost no heating in winter, if any, is needed. Any house failing this, is not really energy efficient, only maybe less worse than the average house.

Nick Rowe at NJR Homes is fantastic. His attention to detail, vision, passion and knowledge is something that is missing with a lot of other builders.

Empire Homes are amazing! We built with them a couple of years ago and they also did an extension for a friend- cannot be faulted. Ian is fully qualified carpenter, as well as the builder, so he’s he knows his stuff. He was there every day, overseeing the entire process and kept us informed. We’ve seen friends homes built by the big companies and the quality doesn’t even compare to our home – and Ian never had to come back to fix anything! I think being a smaller company, the communication is a lot more open, they never seem bothered by our contstant questions.

Hi Namci, now I am looking for a builder. how could you know this one is a good one before making your decision.
when did you build your new house with Empire Homes? How long did the construction take to complete?

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