Crisis in construction: This is how builders find a reliable construction company

There is a crisis in construction: A lack of building materials and skilled workers is causing problems for the companies.

Crisis in construction: This is how builders find a reliable construction company

There is a crisis in construction: A lack of building materials and skilled workers is causing problems for the companies. Above all, private building prospects notice that it is no longer so easy to find a construction company.

If you want to have a house built these days, you have to bring a lot of time and patience with you. The search for a suitable construction company is becoming more difficult than ever. A lack of skilled workers, material bottlenecks and drastic price increases are causing problems for the industry.

"Accordingly, many companies are reluctant to respond to inquiries, especially in the private sector," says Peter Burk, construction consultant and specialist book author. "Building turnkey houses is worthwhile for them, especially in larger residential complexes. One or two-family houses are therefore often at the end of the queue." Nevertheless, you shouldn't go to just any company in an emergency - after all, it's about nothing less than your future home. These are the tips:

1. Get several offers anyway

It is therefore important to obtain several offers, even if the selection is limited. And you should appear confident. "Builders are not petitioners. They give their good money and are entitled to a solid, defect-free house at the agreed price," says Florian Becker, managing director of the builders' protection association in Berlin.

A serious offer for building a house includes a detailed price with the additional costs for desired special services and the credits for personal work, broken down by material and wage share. Florian Becker advises that builders should request the complete construction and service description and the contract with payment plan. The floor plans with dimensions and information on the living space are also important. The bank also needs all of these documents to check the financing.

2. Check that the online rating is up-to-date

"Many builders look first on the Internet, which is okay in principle," says Heiko Püttcher, managing director of the association for quality control in construction. "But they should also check whether user reviews of these companies are up to date."

Because in the current market situation, many things can change quickly. According to Püttcher, material difficulties and staff shortages also caused problems for companies that previously had a good reputation.

The danger of catching a construction company that does not have good tradesmen partners is great today. Then there is a risk of technical errors, such as defects in important static elements, which cost the builder dearly.

3. View reference objects personally

If a shortlist has emerged, builders should look at reference objects from the companies. "But be careful: If the company only proposes a single construction project as a reference, this does not necessarily have to reflect the actual quality of their work," says construction expert Heiko Püttcher.

There are cases where companies pay residents to tell lots of good things about the construction process, even though that may not be true. "Builders should always have several objects named. If the company is not prepared to do this, the alarm bells must ring," says Püttcher.

4. Ask about completion insurance

Good construction companies have completion insurance to cover themselves if the company goes bankrupt. "Builders should inquire about it, because these policies say a lot about the seriousness of the company," explains Heiko Püttcher. "The insurance companies check the companies thoroughly. If there are signs of impending insolvency, they don't get this insurance protection."

5. Call in experts

Once a suitable offer has been found, builders should not allow themselves to be pressured into making hasty decisions and have the contract reviewed by independent experts.

There are several associations of experts in Germany, such as the builders' protection association, the association of private builders, the association for quality control in construction and the consumer centers. The chambers of architects in the federal states also provide experts.

Other associations in this area are the Federal Association of Publicly Appointed, Sworn and Qualified Experts, the Federal Association of German Experts and Specialist Experts and the Federal Association of Independent Experts. Many of the organizations have an expert search function on their websites.

Building consultant Peter Burk believes that signing a construction contract on your own as a layman is like flying blind. The turbulence that can occur is too great. "It may be that the property does not match the house." Or a high overpayment of the sections will be specified in the contract. Or the company lacks technical expertise. "After all, everyone in Germany is entitled to set up a construction company."

6. Demand binding conditions

An expert tip: According to Florian Becker, it has proven useful to send the future contract partner written questions and negotiation requests with the help of the independent expert after evaluating the building offer and to request binding statements on them.

The price offers in particular currently require detailed negotiations because many materials are becoming more expensive or very difficult to obtain. The risks of material shortages and price increases are usually already factored into contracts that are currently being concluded.

"It is very important to insist on a fixed completion date," advises Heiko Püttcher. It must be stipulated when the project is to be completed and what happens if this deadline is not met. "If the company doesn't get involved, it might not be the right thing after all."

(This article was first published on Monday, May 16, 2022.)


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