Repairs — they’ll cost more in the long run

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Leaving a quick fi x job for another day can just lead to more problems, according to Master Build Services (MBS) Ltd manager Bruce Richardson. Many of the claims presented to Mr Richardson and his team at Master Build Services could have been easily prevented if simple repairs had been made when faults or damage were originally noticed. 

Addressing problems as they arise is important, will save time and money, and prevent any bad feeling between builders and home owners in the long run. It will also provide assurances to both parties that the property is in prime condition. 

“If an issue arises it is generally cheaper for the builder to get back and attend to it as soon as possible. 

The longer simple repair jobs are left, the more expensive eventual repair jobs can be,” Mr Richardson says. “This can result in clients getting more despondent and looking for other issues that may or may not exist as a result.” 

This was the case for a property north of Auckland in which some minor issues around cracking in the cladding of the property arose towards the completion of the building contract. Although the potential issue was noted at the time, it was deemed by the builder to not be an immediate problem. 

However, over time this cracking led to considerable deterioration in the building’s exterior. Consequently, three years later, Master Build Services had to engage a building consultant to review the issue at considerable cost and then engage a builder to have the home fully re-clad. 

In this particular case, repairing the original problem would have cost the builder approximately $10,000. Three years later, the cost of these repairs had escalated to around $200,000.Unfortunately, in some cases builders put off responding to owners’ requests to attend to a particular issue. 

Some believe the issue is not their responsibility, while others hope it will go away. “Owners can be remarkably forgiving when it comes to small issues, but if you ignore them they can become dissatisfied and look for other avenues through which to address their unhappiness, whether through Master Build Services, legal action or the media,” Mr Richardson says. 

“We recommend that builders get into the habit of doing a final walk through with their client at the completion of any building contract. “This enables both parties to identify potential issues the owner may have with defects, or general maintenance which can be rectified at that stage. 

From our experience most small-to-medium size builders do not make this common practice,” he says. Master Build Services recommends that builders have processes in place to deal with any issues that do arise. “It’s important to continue after-sales communications. 

With communication open, issues that may be acceptable within industry standards (ie, aesthetic as opposed to structural) can easily be explained to the home owner. “Open communication with the client is essential. Many costly issues come about through a breakdown in communication, when clients choose to get legal advice or other third party intervention, solely because communication with their builder has ceased.” 

This breakdown in communication can also be detrimental to the builder’s reputation and any affiliated brands attached to it. “It is the old saying — when things are done right people tell one or two of their friends, but if things go wrong they tell 10 or more people,” Mr Richardson says. 

Those who want further information are free to contact Master Build Services Ltd on 0800 269 119.