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.
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.”
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!”
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.
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!”
Bringing each client’s vision to life, from start to finish, is Building 61’s commitment, backed by high-quality results.
Building 61 – one of Canberra’s best builders and renovators – has a long list of loyal customers. With extensive experience, the reliable, professional team of trades at Building61 handles superior home renovations and extensions. The team handles decks of all shapes and sizes and innovative outdoor areas. Building 61 also excels at efficient and effective office fit-outs.
The team at Building 61 has around 60 years’ collective experience. Each member – hand-picked for their strengths and capabilities – is fully trained, undertakes continuous development, and is dedicated to ensuring Building 61’s high standards are met 100 per cent of the time.
Key to Building 61’s success is ongoings communications, with clients kept up-to-date every step of the way. The professional team is on hand to provide advice, answer questions and address any issues that may arise.
Building 61 stands behind its meticulous work, knowing it covers off on all the details, from planning, through implementation and to the final result.
On Google, Rory Walker wrote, “We used Building61 for a recent renovation … Great communication with Guy and the team and we are so happy with the final product. Would recommend them to anyone after quality work.”
Canberra-based NJR Homes creates customised new homes, and knock-down rebuilds. Managing Director Nick Rowe is a qualified carpenter with over 20 years in the residential building industry. NJR Homes only uses local trades and suppliers who are closely supervised to ensure top quality work on all projects.
A major plus is NJR Homes’ attention to detail and clear, step-by-step communications throughout design and build. NJR Homes collaborates with every client, so the final product meets all expectations. Customised service and attention to detail ensure client ideas are brought to life. Nick and his team value high-quality craftsmanship and provide clients the freedom to make their home exactly how they want it, including products and finishes.
NJR Homes begins each project with a detailed discussion with the client, followed by a documented, comprehensive quote including the full scope of works. NJR Homes then provides a Master Builders ACT-approved Home Building Contract, followed by a written schedule detailing critical project stages.
Erin Barry. On Google, Erin Barry wrote “We cant recommend Nick Highly Enough. The entire building process, from design to completion, was smooth, fast and friendly."
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.