Are you researching what to do and where to start for an upcoming building project? Here’s a quick walk through of the building process from start to finish. Designed to help those of you trying to navigate the building process. Work out where to start, what’s involved and who to talk to.
Step 1: Do your research
Know what work you can and can’t do, to help firm up your ideas. Start by calling the local council and have your Lot number and Property ID from your rates notice ready. They can advise your boundary set-backs (the distance the building must be from the boundary) plus, they may be able to advise where power, water and sewage amenities come into your property. Call before you dig is also a great place to start and it’s free. For more information about doing your building research click here
Step 2: Work out your budget
Decide what you want to achieve and what you are willing to spend. Depending on the block, age of the house or past build quality, there may be hidden costs before you get out of the ground, or repair to old or inadequate past work. Then ask yourself what level of finishes and quality do you want? For more information about working out your building budget click here
Step 3. Apply for council relaxation
Usually you can build up to 4m away from the boundary line. Roughly work out where you can build to, and if that’s not enough space, consider applying for relaxed boundary. A building certifier will apply for building approval, and if needed, it’s usually best that they apply for the relaxation – although you can apply for this yourself. Click here for more detailed information about council relaxations
Step 4. Obtain working plans
Working plans have specifications the builder can use to price your project and of course follow, for the build. You can either go to a building designer or an architect. Who you choose really depends on the level of design instruction you desire (do you want colours, door handles, interiors etc specified, or do you just want the basic building), and of course your budget. Building designers start from $2000 and design the basic building, architects from $10,000 + and can design the entire plan, colours and interiors. To learn more about getting working plans please click here.
Step 5. Get any required engineering
If your block slopes greater than 15% you’ll need a slope analysis and a soil test to assess if the ground is stable, and to determine foundation requirements. Retaining walls, reinforced concrete columns, suspended slabs are some examples where engineering is required. Your builder will advise if you need engineering. To read more about engineering and whether you need it click here.
Step 6. Appoint a builder
You may wish to appoint a builder before this point but it’s not necessary. Ask around for honest experiences and results, look for third party reviews, full licensing, insurances and check their portfolio. There’s more to compare than price and not all quotes are itemised the same way. Items can be left out to win the job or hidden inside multiple Provisional Sums. It’s easy to get caught in a game of price but what starts out cheap, can end up costing much more with cost variations. It pays to do some research, so you understand how to read and compare quotes and make an informed decision. To read more about finding builders please click here
Step 7. Sign a contract
Builders will use their preferred industry association contract which outlines the projects amount, specifications and payment plan. Ward Builders uses HIA contracts and others may use Master Builders. Although fixed, Provisional Sums and Prime Coast items can increase the contract price, if you are shopping around be cautious and question more than 4 Provisional Sums. Click here for more information on these terms. Or to learn more about building contracts click here.
Step 8. Apply for building approval
A new building, or a change to the buildings’ foot print requires building approval and to do this you need to engage a registered accredited Certifier. They’ll assess whether the proposed work complies with the Building Act 1975 and associated standards. If it does, they will issue a building permit. Once you have approval and building commences, there may be stages that the certifier needs to inspect and approve. Failure to get these inspections may mean you cannot get your Form 21 and occupancy certificate. For information about building approvals please click here.
Step 9. Completion
Once the building is completed, the certifier will conduct their final inspection and issue a Form 21. You’ll receive a final invoice for Practical Completion from the builder. You will need to write down any defects so that the builder can address them – if you haven’t already addressed them during the build. Once all of this is addressed and resolved, the builder will handover. This is where the builder’s insurance ends, and your home insurance begins. To read more about practical completion and what to expect please click here.