So that day has finally come, you are building your dream home or giving your current one a new lease of life. It’s time to choose the balustrade that is perfect for you and your home! This is an exciting process for a homeowner but it can also be an overwhelming process. What designs are available? What supplier will I use? How do I know if they’re reputable? Will the balustrade meet the safety regulations? These are just a few of the questions that you will ask yourself. Unfortunately, Perth’s balustrade industry has its fair share of inexperienced, non-compliant and dodgy contractors, that can ruin this experience for you and leave the homeowner to suffer the consequences.
The balustrading is a crucial part of your home to get right the first time, because;
It contributes to the value and aesthetics of your home.
It is an expensive mistake to fix if it is done wrong. Also, if it is deemed non-compliant, the homeowner may be held liable.
It is something you will live with, potentially, for the lifetime of your current property, so it needs to be of high quality.
The main purpose of a balustrade is safety in the home, and this is compromised if it is not done right.
Below is a list of tips to help you in choosing the best balustrade supplier for your building/renovating needs;
1. Do your research on the company
Research the company online first; look at their website/social media, Google them and read their reviews and testimonials, look at photos of their work online- you can tell if a company is professional by their website and online presence. How long have the company been in operation? How much experience do they have? Visit their showroom and view their products- this also gives you a chance to speak to them and establish their extent of knowledge and experience. Ask them what builders they regularly do work with to establish if they are trusted by reputable builders. Are they based in Perth? This is important for after sales service. Ask friends and family if they know of them. If you are going through a builder, ask the builders opinion on them.
2. Seek testimonials and recommendations
Any reputable balustrade company should have no issues with providing you with testimonials or recommendations of their work. They may also have their testimonials on their marketing material, i.e. website, brochures.
3. Look for accreditations, qualifications and affiliations
Ensure that your balustrade contractor and their installers have the appropriate qualifications and accreditations necessary for the job. A reputable balustrade company will have no problem providing you with these details.
4. Get 2-3 quotes, but don’t base your decision on price alone
Most people shop around and get a couple of quotes before making a purchase decision. However, be careful of very cheap quotes, as too often, this can mean the balustrade contractor is either inexperienced and doesn’t understand your job or they are manufacturing/importing inferior and sometimes non-compliant products. Balustrading is one product where the cheapest is not always the best, you also need it to be high quality and comply with safety standards. Balustrading is a costly investment, but remember it is adding value to your home, so the investment is worthwhile. You wouldn’t buy a cheap, unreliable car that will cost you money in constant repairs, so why use a cheap, inferior quality balustrade on your home? And the repercussions of using cheap, non-compliant balustrade may end up costing more than the initial cost saving.
5. Research their balustrading products
Where are their products made? There are a lot of problems with the cheaper Chinese imports not meeting Australian BCA codes and being of inferior quality. For example, some Chinese glass is known to explode under heat, such as when it is exposed to lengthy periods of sunshine. Do they conduct regular independent product quality testing? Do their products comply with BCA codes and Australian Standards? Are they made to withstand the harsh Australian climate? Do they offer product and installation warranties? Can they produce the design you are looking for? Are their products custom made or set panel sizes?
6. Get an on-site consultation and measure
These are usually free and should happen before the balustrade goes into production. During the consultation, your balustrade contractor should explain the process to you, identify your needs and come up with the best solution to suit your taste and budget.
7. Make sure a valid contract is in place
To protect yourself, ensure there is a contract in place before any work is done, including information on designs you have agreed on, price and payment information, warranties etc.
8. What is the extent of their knowledge of balustrading, Australian Standards and BCA Codes
By speaking with your balustrade contractor, you will get an idea of their experience and knowledge of balustrading as they will be able to explain the whole process to you and answer any queries you might have. Beware of contractors that are vague and try to just rush you into a decision, as they are probably inexperienced and/or lack knowledge of your project.
Using a reputable contractor/builder versus Do-It-Yourself
Hypothetically, you could undertake such a project on your own, but this project is not to be underestimated, and is a lot more complicated than the average do-it-yourself flat-packed drawers from Ikea. There is a lot of careful measuring and drilling to be done, as well as selecting the best quality materials (i.e. glass, stainless steel, aluminium), and making sure the installed balustrade complies with stringent Australian safety standards and BCA codes; all of which is second nature to an experienced contractor. We would always recommend making that extra investment and employing a reputable balustrade contractor or going through your builder; saving you hassle, time and money wasted on mistakes or non-compliant balustrades. Using a reputable balustrade company or builder also gives you the extra security of product and installation warranties, along with the peace of mind that your balustrade is installed right and is safe for use.