Every renovation and custom home project is different, so the time to taken to complete any one project varies greatly. So it is important to understand the process and be confident in your builders ability to schedule and organise everything in a timely manner. Without careful planning, it is the same as asking how long is a piece of string!
The best tool for you as an owner is to ensure your builder has a schedule that you have access to, so you can understand when critical stages of the build will be undertaken and completed. Project schedules ensure setbacks, delays and unforeseen things are dealt with and accounted for so they do not unnecessarily extend the completion date on what should be an efficient building project.
Though we understand when building your house, particularly if you need to meet a deadline, you will want to know how long it’s going to take. On average it can take approximately 6 months to complete the build of a new house. However, it can be as little as 4 months or potentially more than 12 months depending on the scale on complexity of the project.
The stages of building a house
Building Approval – this is undertaken either during the design stage, or just prior to construction. A building approval is required from the local authority to ensure the works comply with their codes and standards for building in the area. Basic rules for building requirements, such as set backs and report requirements can be found on the local governments website or asking them over the phone.
Land Preparation – the site will need to be free of trees and grass or shrubs that are within the building area. This is usually the responsibility of the property owner to manage. The builder will usually take care of the groundworks required to cut the block to suit the buildings footings.
Footings Stage – Whether its a concrete slab, piers or stumps this is an important stage of the build. It affects the outcomes for all other trades and is normally closely monitored. During the footing stage, other activities such as any in ground plumbing and initial electrical trenching take place.
Frame Stage– The construction of external and internal wall frames begins. This stage also includes applicable steel beams and posts and the roof trusses.
Lock up – at lock up stage the roof, gutters, temporary downpipes, exterior wall linings (brick or cladding) and exterior doors and windows are completed. The plumber and electrician will also complete their “rough-in” of the cables and pipes for the planned plumbing and electrical points. This is often a stage when the owner will be required to advise on where they want switches, lights, plumbing fixtures placed, unless these are set in the design.
Fix-out – this is the details stage, when you will see interior linings (plasterboard and cornice etc), waterproofing, tiling, interior doors, skirting and architraves, cabinetry, wardrobes and glazing (i.e. shower screens) completed.
Practical Completion – at this final stage all the painting will be completed, followed by the finishing of plumbing fit offs (tapware, gas cookers, hot water systems) and electrical fit off’s (lighting, exhaust fans, ovens, cooktops, wall switches etc) and any other floor coverings to be completed by the builder. Landscaping works can be undertaken by the builder at this stage as well, should they form part of the contract.
The stages of a renovation
The stages of a renovation are basically the same as those for a new build (see above), depending on the extent of works undertaken, but with the following stages added in, where applicable.
Demolition – this is either completed by the builder – where a little more complex, or undertaken by the owner. Disposal of waste materials needs to be taken into account with any demolition. Similarly the appropriate removal of asbestos materials should be undertaken at this stage to avoid any delays to trades.
Engineering Review – often some building materials are hidden from view during the design phase, and if these are structural materials such as beams and posts, an engineer may be required to review if they should remain, be reused, or be replaced to meet current standards.
Plumbing and electrical reconfiguration – where plumbing is to be added in, or relocated there will be further demolition required. Activities such as moving a plumbing waste, where the slab may be cut and a new waste installed at the preferred location. Electricians may find that wiring needs to be replaced, or relocated to facilitate the changes being completed. Examples include the relocation of the meter board or the sub-board, rewiring to meet current standards including adding in hard-wired smoke alarms.
Should I be wary of a builder who says it can be done quicker? Only if they promise to build your home in a much, much quicker time frame than seems practical. This is often just a ploy to get you to sign up, which they will then change the details of later.