Frequently Ask Questions about Renovations
What is a building consent?
A building consent is a legal written authority document which is approved only by your local Council to carry out building work at a specific work site, that it complies with the Building Code provided it is completed in accordance with the plans and specifications submitted with the building consent application.
Why do I need a building consent?
You are required under the Building Act 2004 to carry out building work with a building consent. However, there are minor building works that do not require a building consent. Basically carrying out building work without consent is illegal, so you need to have a building consent from Council to avoid legal complications and insurance covers.
How long does it take to get a building consent?
The time it takes to get a building consent depends on the complexity of your building work and whether or not you have provided the Council with required information. The legal time frame for processing building consents is 20 working days. The processing of building consents involves several aspects such as planning, designing, engineering, plumbing, etc. So be aware that the building clock may stop on more than one occasion, if that is the case the Council will send you another letter requiring more information about your project.
Don’t all builders have the same skills and qualifications?
This is not true, not all builders have the same qualifications as others in the industry. Check to see if they are part of the Master Builders Australia or Registered Master Builders Federation (RMBF). Please note that if they are not, it does not necessarily mean they are poor builders. They could be excellent builders who are not members of either organisation. Also what guarantees, if any, are offered with the job and are they prepared to make time to come back to do any work that is unsatisfactory.
What is the recommended number of building companies I should get quotes from?
You can get as many quotes as you want from different companies, but usually 3 – 5 is enough. Although price is a fundamental factor on your renovation project, don’t simply choose a building company because they were the cheapest; they might cut corners to finish your project. You should ask each building company why their prices are higher or lower than other company quotes.
At what stage do I get a builder in for my project?
Typically builders will talk to you once plans and designs are finalised, but at The Bathroom Renovators we can discuss with you about your project before anything has even been written on paper. We will help you throughout your entire renovation project process, and we mean it! We can help you pre-plan, plan, design, build, select products and inspect your project.
What exactly do I need to discuss with my Builder or Architectural Designer about my project?
Everything you want in your renovation project! Its that easy. It is important that you know exactly what you want from your project, and the information you provide to your builder and architectural designer needs to be very detailed. By doing so you give them a starting point to create and build your dream renovation the way you want. We listen to exactly what you want this way we can give you expert advice to what is feasible and not.
Important: It is essential that the first thing you discuss with your builder and designer is the BUDGET. The budget you have set for your project will weigh heavily on the outcome of your renovation, so please talk to your builder and designer with what you can actually do in your renovation from your set budget.
What contracts are available between me and my builder?
There are three available contracts between you and your builder when renovating your project and they are:
Full Contracts can make your life easier: one price that covers the bulk of the work (add-ons, such as kitchens, tiles and tiling, door furniture and tapware may not be included) and the builder will manage subcontractors working and timing and there is one person to go to if there are any problems.
A Full Contract and the price includes:
- All materials
- Subcontractors and their prices
- Getting consents
- Liaison with the designer/architect
- Arranging inspections
- Managing the whole building project
Labour-Only Contracts means the builder is only responsible for the actual labour work on your project and you manage the rest of the process. The concern with this contract is that you become responsible for the project, including consents, supervising the building work, organising subcontractors and materials and the Health and Safety Plan. If you are considering this contract to save money you must keep in mind it is a very demanding job and requires a lot of time.
Managed Labour-Only Contracts are partway between a full contract and a labour-only contract. Under this agreement the builder manages the day-to-day building and you are responsible for pricing the project, getting the quotes and organising the materials and subcontractors. The builder may do some of this, depending what you’ve both agreed in the contract. People choose this option to save money by doing some of the work themselves, but it can be a huge time commitment.
What are the warranties?
These warranties apply to all contracts for building work involving household units, whether written or verbal. They also apply to the sale of one or more household units by a residential property developer. It is not possible to contract out of them.
- The building work will be done properly, proficiently, and in agreement with the plans and specifications.
- All the materials used will be suitable and, unless otherwise stated in the contract, new.
- The building work will be consistent with the Building Act and the Building Code.
- The building work will be carried out with rational care and skill and completed within the time stated, or a reasonable time if no time is specified.
- The household unit will be suitable for occupation at the end of the work.
- If the contract states any particular outcome and the owner relies on the skill and judgment of the contractor to achieve it, the building work and the materials will be fit for purpose and be of a nature and quality suitable to achieve that result.
When can I start the work?
Once you acquire the building consent needed for your project then you can start the building work immediately. Also make sure architectural plans are well planned out with every specification written in detail, another note to mention is that the building contract must contain who is responsible for each task of the building process.
How do I keep my project within budget?
The recommended way to keep your project within budget is to enter into a Full Contract with your builder, where there is a written set price – and it is the responsibility of the builder to keep within the budget, however if issues arise then the contract needs to be amended.
What happens when changes to the plans or specified materials have to be made once work has started?
Changes by the builder
In the specifications there will be detailed instructions about what products the builder is to install. Sometimes the builder or one of the subcontractors may have to make a substitution because that brand wasn’t available when needed. You will want at least the equivalent in quality to be installed. In your contract with the builder you should have conditions that prohibits the builder making any variations or alterations to the contract without your consent or direct written instruction.
Be aware that a modification to the building consent may be required.
When you ask for changes
During the building process you might change your mind about something in the renovation plan. Talk to your designer, project manager or builder to help decide if the variation is really necessary and how much it will cost. It could require a new or rewritten building consent. Or it could turn out that it can’t be done anyway – it may be too far into the building process to start moving walls or inserting soundproofing products between floors. But you won’t know unless you ask, and let them justify to you why it cannot be done.
Try to avoid these as much as possible as changes are likely you more money and time.
Do I get a guarantee?
All buildings get a standard comprehensive 10 Year Building Workmanship and Warranty. As The Bathroom Renovators is part of the Certified Builders Association of Australia we offer you a Builtin Australia Ltd for a ten-year written guarantee when undertaking to build a new home. You are not required to apply for the guarantee, but can offer to do so, for alterations and additions. If a contract is not completed for some reason, Builtin Australia Ltd will encourage the builder to remedy the problem and, if necessary, appoint another Certified Builder to do so, and the written guarantee will cover or contribute significantly to the cost.
How do I pay my builder?
When building progress starts the funds are advanced by progress payments to your builder. This ensures that you are only paying your builder for the work they have done at that time of the project stage. It’s really important that you never owe more than the house is worth at each stage of building.