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Success Business Magazine Issue 13
  • Posted Monday, 5 May 2014
  • -
  • In Articles

Success Business Magazine Issue 13

The following article is taken from Issue 13 of Success Business Magazine.

Where to begin your building project

Where to start is often the most confusing step. There are a few fundamentals that are necessary to keep the process exciting and effective. The complete process is beyond this article, however I will share with you in the coming editions the sequential path to completing a building project relatively stress free. This article will cover your starting point identifying your scope and budget.

Contact a builder

Calling a reputable builder is a good place to start. Identify a builder through word of mouth, researching the internet, looking at websites and online reviews. Making an appointment on site with your builder provides a good environment to discuss your project. Raising an old building, building in under, extensions and renovations is a speciality in the building industry and choosing a builder you feel comfortable with who has a sound background in this style of construction and remodelling work is important.


The builder should be able to provide you with a rough estimate to try and establish whether the scope is within your budget. For instance if you are raising a building with a view to build in under on a footprint of 100m2 and your budget is $80,000 it is unlikely the project will proceed, and as a part of your initial investigation it is this you are trying to establish. This is called prequalifying. Establishing a budget is about understanding what the market can provide for the money available. You will save a lot of time and frustration by gaining an understanding of this at the outset.


Establish a budget

It is important to understand that renovation work generally per square metre will cost more than a new build where repetitious work such as project homes provides economy of scale. Renovation work requires some artistic licence. It is significantly slower because each piece of each element is cut and built to measure, often working with old materials or splicing new to old. Demolition work is also an expensive factor. Removal and disposal of building material is expensive and concrete can often cost more to remove and dispose of than it costs to put down new.


However this type of project is about value adding to an existing property, providing additional space in an area you are familiar with and love. Renovation work is exciting and is often done alongside established areas of historic and/or architectural value.


For those that don’t know if they will be spending $30,000 or $100,000 for a given project you need to start somewhere. If you are looking under your house and wondering what it would cost to add a few bedrooms, a rumpus room, kitchenette and bathroom etc, I would use a metre rate of approximately $1,600 per square metre to give you a very general estimated starting point to budget from. Naturally this rate can vary significantly depending on whether it’s a turn-key finish (i.e. fully finished as you would expect a new home to be) or not. Bearing in mind the price can vary significantly from this depending on your selection of finish from the detail within the scope. For instance, tiles could vary from $30 square meter to $170. Or the laying of tiles for cushion edge could be $35-$40 a square meter to lay and large rectified edge tiles could be up to $95 square meter to lay. A toilet suite could vary from $170 to $1,200 and the list goes on.


The discussion with your builder is about establishing a budget line and it is always important to establish a budget at the outset and work backwards from that point. The budget will dictate the finish options available to you. I have found owners reluctant to share budget prices because they are afraid the builder will capitalise on what they have available. As much as I understand this concern, in reality it is unrealistic. I would suggest you would put the project out to at least 3 builders for pricing and they will all be bidding for the work. To quote outside market price would simply be a waste of time for any builder. The market is extremely competitive and prices must be sharp to meet the market. I share this reality with you to put your mind at ease as it will make the process a lot smoother from the outset.


Pricing the Project

Another important point for consideration is to be sure each builder that quotes your job has exactly the same information. It is all too often I have seen the cheapest quote win the project on price, but the owners have paid dearly in expensive variations. Most construction drawings are missing much vital information and assumptions are often made by the builder and the owner. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, but in the building game it is expensive. It is important to understand your drawings and the detail so when comparing the prices be sure there is a list of inclusions and exclusions. Your inclusions should be accompanied with a selection list of all third party items such as toilet suite, vanity, kitchen and all associated tapware fittings and fixtures. Often plans will show a vanity and show the need for a toilet suite, bath etc. but there is no detail, so without knowing specifically what is being included could lead to disappointment in the finish - and upgrading retrospectively is rarely cheap.


Sharing some of these tips is all about keeping the project exciting and something to look forward to. If at the outset your vision is exactly what your builder is delivering you will feel good about the process, excited about the finish and be comfortable doing it again in the future. Adding value to your existing property has lots of benefits and I hope that sharing some of the process with you and highlighting things for you to consider can help in some way.