7 things you must know before building, extending or renovating your home.

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  • Author Tony Gronowski
  • Published February 1, 2024
  • Word count 1,199

Whether it’s a custom new home, extension or renovation, any construction project carries risk and as the homeowner, while the risk is yours, your builder is the person you are relying on to mitigate it for you. For the best possible experience and outcome, you will need to work together as a team, so it pays to get on board and learn as much as you can about what construction projects need in order to come in on time, what causes blowouts and what you should expect to see from your builder right from the start. When you’ve got these covered, you know the job is in two sets of very good hands. Keep reading to find out more.

  1. Know your budget and be clear about it with your builder.

First and foremost, it is vital that you are very sure of your budget. It sets the parameters within which you have to build your home and there isn’t much that can compete with the stress of budget blowouts and the domino effect on your project from running out of funds.

A quality builder will know how to manage your budget to maximise your return on investment so it’s essential that you are transparent about it right from the start. Homeowners often feel that if they downplay their budget to their builder that the quote will come in lower and they will save money on their build. However, this is not the case. Budgets are about making the most of what you’ve got. When your builder knows exactly what he’s got to work with you will get a quote that provides the best possible, quality outcome, investing wisely in every aspect without cutting corners.

  1. Council approvals and the building code.

It is always best to keep within the building code during the planning stage of your project. This will save you an enormous amount of heartache, time and money in the long run, streamlining your construction project. If you try to slide a DA through council that contains elements outside of the building code, be ready to spend weeks and weeks toing and froing with documents and details sorting it out to meet council’s requirements. Given that you can expect to add up to 6 months or even a year waiting around to finalise the approvals, it’s not worth what you thought you might gain.

  1. Be careful of where you cut costs.

In building it is true that you absolutely get what you pay for. It is the practise of cutting corners that gets homeowners into trouble (whether that be because the homeowner wanted to go cheap or the builder was the dodgy instigator of the infraction). Every day you have to live with what you end up with and so it’s the final outcome that you need to weigh up. Are you willing to spend years and years living with something that gnaws at your side or will you spend a little bit more for years of being happy?

  1. Include your builder early in the design stage.

It’s so common that its almost become folklore...families get their plans all done, council approval is achieved, the vibe is high and anticipation is rising...only to then be told by your builder that you don’t have the budget to see it through. It’s crushing and we’ve seen it destroy a family’s resolve to progress too many times.

Engage your builder early, right from the design stage, to sideswipe this crash. Often, we receive a preliminary plan from the Architect or Designer and for a few hundred dollars can give you an estimate of what that design will cost to build. Then, we talk to our draftsman to see what can be done to make it work within your budget. In this way, you are still able to realise the dream.

  1. When you can and can’t live in your home.

Your ability to continue living in your home during a renovation or extension will depend on the size and type of the build, along with your budget.

There are some cases where you can continue to live on the ground floor during a first floor addition, however, there are additional costs associated with working around your family that can slow the build down, such as keeping your home habitable. You and your builder will need to weigh up the pros and cons as the cost of moving out for the duration can be offset by a quicker build time.

  1. Learn how to read quotes.

Some builders will give you a ballpark figure to complete your project - a semi-guesstimate amount that rarely reflects the final cost. On the other end of the spectrum, and depending on the degree of information you are able to provide your builder, is a highly detailed fixed price quote and specification. You can also expect to see a range of variants in between.

The critical thing to know is how to compare apples with oranges with melons. To do that is to be aware that not everything is always included in your quote and not all prices are fixed. There are often a range of unknowns, yet to be properly accounted for and, therefore, are provisionally summed or simply left out. For example, you won’t know what slab type you need until a soil test is completed. Has the quote accounted for a driveway, water tank, excavation, council fees and more? Be particularly wary of a quote that looks too good to be true as some builders take advantage of the unknowns to present you with a deflated price to win the job, which will inevitably go up as the build progresses.

  1. Understand the real cost of building.

It is important to be realistic about what building really costs at the outset because trying to save money by cutting corners in the beginning, will cost you more in the end, every time. Extensions and renovations are typically going to cost you more than building a project home from the ground up, for example. There are additional costs and extra time required when working with an existing structure such as taking care of demolition. In addition, once elements of your home are unearthed or moved, there can be a domino effect where one thing leads to another. For example, if a wall needs to be removed, flooring needs to be replaced, and in some cases, you will need to replace the flooring in the entire area in order to get a match. It’s a juggling act that your builder must know how to manage.

Specialising in new homes, renovations and granny flats in Sydney’s North-West Hills District, TG Building is proudly locally owned and run, working hand in hand with our commitment to personal service and attention to detail. As a small, family-owned and run company, TG Building can manage your entire build, from beginning to end. We can help with design and building approvals, full construction, right up to the necessary finishing touches. Don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your project directly today. - Tony Gronowski

Expert home extension and second storey addition builders, we partner with you to create your dream home.


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