Planning for Your Build

Introduction

Renovating your home is a huge commitment but as house prices skyrocket upgrading your existing home can be a more viable alternative than purchasing a new one. However renovating older houses is more complex than building from scratch and this can lead to an expensive and stressful process. Walls can be crooked, structural elements such as walls, foundations and roof members may be unsound and existing plumbing and drains can be damaged to name just a few potential problems. For this reason it is important to have a good understanding of the process and be confident that your builder does as well.

This guide is designed to explain process involved in renovating your home, demonstrate how we would plan for and manage the job and hopefully contribute towards it being an enjoyable and fulfilling process.

 

Engaging Designers and Obtaining Consent

ARCHITECTS AND BUILDING CONSENT:

Generally Clients will engage a designer (architect or draftsman) to formulate ideas and establish a concept for the build. Once the client is happy with the concept, the designer can then proceed to producing a developed design and working drawings for building consent. He/she may also subcontract other design professionals such as engineers if, for example, any structural work falls outside the scope of the building code and requires specific engineering design. It is important to be satisfied with the design prior to building consent being issued as any significant changes made after this may require an amendment which will result in significant cost and delay.

Building consent usually takes around 4-6 weeks to obtain depending upon the complexity of your job. During this time it is assessed by council and checked for compliance with the building code. It is not unusual for council to request additional information and clarification from the designer during this process. Work cannot proceed until all the relevant consents are obtained and council fees paid in full.

 

OTHER CONSENTS:

May be required before council will process your building consent, eg:

Resource Consent: It may also be necessary to obtain resource consent if your proposed design falls outside the parameters of building controls and district plan, for example infringements of height to boundary or permeable area restrictions.

Watercare Consents: Watercare consents may be required if for example you have limited drainage and need to discharge storm water to the street. Also building in close proximity to any public services which run through your property may require consent.

Auckland Transport consents: Required if you intend to relay you vehicle crossing (driveway from road to your boundary).

 

During the design/consent process prospective builders can be contacted and provided with plans in order to start obtaining estimates or quotes. As new ideas are often introduced as the design is developed, it is important to provide the builders with updated plans as they become available to ensure no pricing omissions are made. The pricing should also be checked once final stamped plans are obtained from council as council may insist upon changes to designs during consent processing.

 

What will the job cost?

Generally people will chose to progress with their building works on a charge up basis under an estimated price or under a fixed price quote.

ESTIMATE:

This is our best idea of price based upon previous experience of other jobs. It is of course subject to an amount of price variation which, in renovations, is common due to the more complex nature of the work. Generally, we will always obtain quotes wherever possible to reduce uncertainty in this area of the work. The benefit of this type of plan is that you are only charged only for the actual hours worked, materials used on the project  and subcontractors engaged plus margins (see our separate terms and conditions for charge up work). You might reasonably need to budget 10-20% (not including variations) to cover costs under an estimate.

We will usually provide a detailed breakdown of costs including detailed labour and materials breakdowns to demonstrate the fact that we have invested considerable time and forethought into providing as accurate an estimate as possible. Invoices are issued fortnightly and tracked against expected outlay at each stage of the job which helps to accurately gauge whether the costs are on par with the estimate. Part of what we do is to try and get you the most competitively priced materials and subtrades while not scrimping on quality.

 

QUOTATION:

This is a fixed price quote which will not vary over the course of the job (except in the case of variations). As all the risk is borne by the builder, a reasonable margin is built into the quote to cover margins, project management and labour/material over runs. The benefit to the client is more financial certainty around the build costs. However operating under a fixed price may result in increased pressure on the builder which has been known to cause errors and shortcuts being taken.

Usually very little in the way of breakdowns of costs are offered. Invoices are issued as progress claims at stages during the job. Depending upon the clients situation, banks may require fixed priced quotes and progress payment schedules as a condition of lending.

Planning for Your Building Work

SCHEDULING:

Once you have selected a builder, it is important to start the planning process in order to minimise delays and increase the efficiency of the work. One of the ways we like to plan for our involvement is to produce a detailed work schedule. This is updated as necessary as the job progresses and is set out to include important aspects such as:

-Commencement dates and duration of the various subtrades

-Dates when builders will be present on site

-Expected delivery dates for key building components

-Dates for mandatory building inspections

-Dates for independent inspections by engineers

-Dates of key decisions required by clients eg internal fitting selections, trim selections, floor finishes, paint colours etc

 

Obviously such a schedule is an estimate of work progression and can be impacted by factors such as weather. However it is a good basis for effective project management and provides a visual estimate of how the job should track that is beneficial for both the client and the builder. In the current building climate, subtrades and materials need to be booked well in advance to avoid delays and creating a detailed schedule is one of the best ways of ensuring this. Mandatory council inspections also need to be anticipated and booked in advance.

 

PREPARING THE HOUSE

While some people prefer to move out of the house for the duration of the build, others are happy to remain in the dwelling as work progresses. Obviously this has to be thought about based on the extent of the work, but in most cases the clients are able to remain in their home for the majority of the job, particularly in the case of extensions where only a part of the house is affected. Sometimes it may be necessary to move out for a period of time towards the end of the job, ie when bathrooms and kitchens are temporarily absent and plastering and painting are occurring.

If you opt to remain in the house there are some simple preparations you can make to reduce the impact on yourselves and your preparations:

-Prepare a spare room where items can be stored. Cover with dropsheets as it is not always possible to prevent dust travelling.

-Remove all breakables eg hanging pictures and other artwork from walls as improperly secured items can sometimes fall.

-Remove any display items such as vases and ornaments from surgaces and store safely

-ensure bookshelves are secured to walls and books are potentially packed away to protect them from dust.

We are happy to fit in with the wishes of the client and we can take measures to temporarily secure and weatherproof the house as it becomes necessary.

 

Project Management and Communication

As a builder and project manager I am present on site much of the time. This enables me to keep a firm handle on the state of the work and pre-empt any potential problems before they arise. I like to be present for key parts of the job eg foundations, structural work, weather tightness and inspections and never delegate responsibility of crucial aspects of the work to others. The complexity of some renovations means that poor planning and foresight can have serious implications down the track. Key components of my project management include:

-Scheduling (as detailed above)

-Reviewing plans and specifications before commencement and during works

-Engaging subtrades and ensuring they have the appropriate credentials and insurances

-Ensuring Council compliance (see building compliance below)

-Ensuring Health and Safety compliance

-Effective and frequent communication

-Reviewing pricing, monitoring costs and quantifying extra costs and variations

 

Frequent communication in a large and complicated build is essential. This includes:

-Communication between the client and the builder to plan stages in the job, discuss variations or raise any concerns

-Communication between the builder and the designer to address and design issues, compliance matters or additional plans required.

-Communication between builder and subtrades to pre plan for their involvement, ensure they are carrying out work to the specifications and ensure their safety on site.

-Communication with council to arrange mandatory inspections. Sometimes, as in the case of minor variations, the builder must act as intermediary between council and the designer.

I pride myself on prompt and effective communication to ensure that all parties involved in a build feel well connected. This also means that important decisions or changes are well documented during the process (ie by email) which reduces errors and the potential for disputes. It is also beneficial to have  on-site meetings between the clients and builder at least once a week or fortnight.

 

Building Compliance and Council

 

When you receive your building consent, the folder containing the consent also contains information such as the types of council inspections required and the supporting evidence that needs to accompany the building work. A good builder should always be aware of what council compliance inspections are required at various stages of the work.

It is not uncommon to make minor changes to the design as work progresses. This can be due to the client wanting to make a change or due to design problems requiring changes. In either case, the change needs to be documented by way of a minor variation and supporting documents (product specification, updated plans etc) which a council inspector can then sign off on site. An example might be the adjustment or alteration of an existing non-structural wall or change in configuration of a bathroom. It is important to be well prepared with the appropriate documentation so that it is an easy matter for a council inspector to sign off these on site changes.

More serious changes such as structural changes might require an amendment to your building consent. This is similar to the process for applying for a whole building consent and can cause considerable delays to your job. For this reason it is important to ensure that you have all the concepts fully confirmed prior to consent being issued and that you have full confidence in your designer to produce plans that work in reality as well as on paper.

It is also the builders responsibility to ensure that all subcontractors engaged are appropriately licensed to carry out and warranty their work. At the conclusion of the building work, following a final inspection on site, statements need to be obtained from people such as:

-Builders (LBP record of work)

-Roofers (LBP record of work)

-Blocklayers (LBP record of work)

-Electricians (certificate of compliance)

-Plumbers  (PS3)

-Waterproofers (PS3)

These documents demonstrate that subcontractors work has been carried out to the specification and to the relevant standards of their respective trades. Obtaining this documentation is one of the key ways that the council verifies that the work complies with the building code and enables them to produce a Code Compliance Certificate to prove this.

We are experienced in producing documentation for compliance and ensure that this information is collated as the job progresses rather than at the end to ensure compliance throughout the job.

 

Insurance and Contracts

INSURANCE:

Result construction carries public liability insurance to safeguard against claims resulting from accidental damage to your property or harm to individuals. We also ensure that any subtrades we engage also carry appropriate insurance to cover their involvement in the job.

We also recommend strongly that clients seek the advice of their insurer and obtain insurance specific to their property for the duration of the project, ie Contract Works Insurance.

CONTRACTS:

While contracts have always been wise in any building project, as of January 1 2015 they became mandatory for any projects exceeding $30,000. So it is essential to obtain a contract from your builder which is signed by both parties prior to the commencement of work.

We have draft copies of our contracts available for review upon request.

The above guide should help give you an idea of some of the areas for thought while planning your build and ways you can minimise the impact on yourselves and reduce stress during your build. We can also provide a copy of our terms and conditions which explains in more detail how we charge, details of insurance etc. I am always available to answer any questions relating to the planning and building process.