renovation & extension FAQ’s

To assist you with starting your renovation or extension journey, we’ve jotted down the following frequently asked questions people ask us before starting their home improvement project.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 1. How do I start the renovation or extension process?”]Take the time to review the Housing Industry Association [Australia] (HIA) website about renovating and browse their kitchen and bathroom Renovation Guides; plus, start filling in a design brief like this kitchen one for each room you want to renovate.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 2. Should I get lots of quotes?”]Most people feel that they should get multiple quotes (called ‘going to tender’) for their project to ensure they are getting the best price possible, however unless you can ensure that you are getting a true ‘apples for apples’ comparison this process is wasted.  To get a true comparative pricing it is important to supply a fully detailed set of drawings and specifications to each registered builder (go to at least 3) and be sure to give exactly the same brief to each.

That said, going to tender means a high cost of drawing and specification preparation beforehand so there is a lot to be said in finding a builder you feel comfortable with early in the piece and spending time working with them on the design and specifications side of things.  This makes it a more seamless, cost effective process for all concerned.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 3. How do I choose a builder?”]We recommend you choose your builder very early to utilise their experience and expertise to get things done correctly from the start.  Before committing to a builder, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I comfortable with them?
  • Do I feel I can trust them?
  • Have they been friendly and helpful?
  • Do they answer my questions thoroughly?
  • Has there been reliable communication so far?
  • Do I feel they have understood what I want?
  • Are they punctual?

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[accordion-item title=”+ 4. When can you start?”]I know – you’re excited and keen to start NOW!   However a systematic approach has to be applied to the process so it’s likely the works can’t start tomorrow.  There are, however, ways for your builder to get a jump start like beginning work on the paperwork and approvals straight away and then commence site work on your project in as little as a couple of weeks.  Of course, if you have a particular time frame you would like to work to, most builders will do their best to accommodate it, depending on their workload.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 5. How long will my renovation or extension take?”]Well, that depends on the size and complexity of the renovation.  As a guide, an average bathroom takes 2-4 weeks and an average kitchen takes 1-3 weeks from commencement on site.  Outdoor areas such as decks and pergolas are weather dependent and assuming there is good weather we estimate approximately 10-14 days from commencement on site.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 6. Do I need Council approval or a building permit?”]Most people aren’t aware that in 1998 the Queensland Government introduced private certification for general building approvals, which alleviated the necessity for local government involvement for approvals of extensions, renovations and new builds.  This expedited the approval process and the lengthy delays widely associated with the local Council building approval process in the past.  When discussing your proposed renovations, your builder can advise you what jobs may need to go through Council and usually they will do this step as part of your renovation or extension package through their network of private certifiers.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 7. Will we be able to live in our home while the renovations are happening?”]Yes, but some areas may be unusable for the duration of work like a bathroom or kitchen so your builder should assist you with a work-around if that’s the case.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 8. How much will it cost?”]Every renovation or extension is different and bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas vary in size and style so it’s best to contact your builder for an estimate once they’ve determined your needs.  Before you meet with them make sure you:

  • Know your budget – make sure it’s realistic and make sure you tell them what it is because most builders are up to date and well informed of new and alternative products that may actually reduce construction costs.  This  may allow you to spend the balance on furnishings or finishing touches that you thought were out of your price range.
  • Don’t overcapitalise.  Make sure that the renovation or extension adds value to the house, choosing quality over price.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 9. Can I choose my tiles, benchtops, appliances, etc?”]Of course!  It’s your home so it should reflect your taste and style.  Most builders will guide you through the selection process or direct you to one of their trusted and knowledgeable suppliers who can advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of the products you are considering.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 10. Can I purchase my own products?”]Yes, but please ensure all your products are high quality and compatible with the planned renovations and ensure your products are delivered as per the building schedule to ensure there are no delays.  It is always advisable to discuss these purchases with your builder before you buy to ensure they comply with Australian Standards (be aware that some overseas items purchased through the internet are not always compliant) and that they also match the specifications of the design brief.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 11. Do I need to organise my own Trades?”]Builders generally have a wide network of trades available to seamlessly complete your renovation.  This includes electricians, plumbers, tilers, landscapers and so on.  However, if you already have a preferred Tradie you are welcome to use them but they will be your responsibility to manage, which includes scheduling, payment, insurance, and waste removal.  Plus, should your Tradie delay, damage, cause contractual issues or adversely affect the renovation work you might be responsible for the consequences including any financial fallout.

And a word of caution, we’ve found through experience that one should avoid using a friend or relative to undertake these type of works as it is a proven recipe for disaster.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 12. Do I have to be home during the renovation?”]Not if you don’t want to be – it’s up to you. Some people like to have their renovation or extension done while they’re on holidays and others like to be stay around and in the vast majority of cases it is possible to safely and practically stay at home and shift around from room to room as the renovation progresses.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 13. Can I have extra work done?”]Of course you can.  Builders and tradespeople are happy to quote you for any additional work you would like done but keep in mind that costs are likely to be lower if the work can be carried out while they are already on site rather than done at a later date.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 14. Will it be messy?”]Any type of building work will involve a bit of compromise, mess and rubbish but the aim is to minimise the impact of this on you.  Where required plastic cover should be installed in all walkways for the duration of the renovation; and as a minimum you would expect a tidy up and vacuum of the internal parts of the building site at the end of each work day, and removal of all building rubbish and waste from site at the end of the job.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 15. What is the difference between product and public liability insurance?”]The significant difference between the two is that public liability insurance provides cover for occurrences that happen whilst your works are actually being carried out and products liability provides cover for occurrences that happen after the works have been completed and handed over.

Your builder should have both types of insurance covering your project.

For a residential project, as well as these insurances it is mandatory for a builder to take out  Home Warranty Insurance through Queensland Building & Construction Commission (QBCC).  This is a separate insurance to cover the owner against contractors or builders unable to come back and repair defects because they have ceased operating.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 16. Do I have to have insurance?”]In short, no.  But you do need to sight the Certificate of Currency of your builder’s Product Insurance and Public Liability (it should be included in the contract) to ensure it is both valid for the duration of the project and to a value of not less than $15M.  If the policy expires during the life of the project make a note that your are to receive a copy of thenew Certificate just prior to the expiry of the existing one, otherwise works should be halted until it is produced.

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[accordion-item title=”+ 17. What about appropriate licenses?”]You can visit the Queensland Building & Construction Commission (QBCC) to ensure your builder has the appropriate building license to undertake your project, and ensure that they only engage qualified, licensed* and insured trades people.

*some works to the value of $3300 do not require a QBCC license but Larian only engages experienced experts in their field in these cases.

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Can’t find the answer you’re looking for?  Contact us and ask your question.

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