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Living with renovation

The builder needs a good working environment so the job can progress without problems or delays. You want as few inconveniences and disruptions to your daily routine as possible.

Many of the responsibilities of both the builder and the homeowner have already been spelled out in the contract. Before the work starts, sit down with your builder and discuss everyone’s expectations and responsibilities in detail. Good communication is key to a good renovation experience and a satisfying result.

Before the work begins

  • Discuss the builder’s requirements for the work, including access to electricity and water on a regular basis, delivery and storage of building materials, and disposal of wastes.
  • Determine the rules of the house for the work crew. Clarify access to bathroom facilities and eating areas, as well as kitchen privileges, if any, and also which parts of the house are off limits. Set out your smoking policy and if you permit music in the work area.
  • Verify that council permits and approvals have been obtained as needed. The contract may stipulate that your builder will do this; however, the ultimate responsibility rests with you as the homeowner.

Builder responsibilities

  • Your builder will make every effort to avoid disruptions and minimise the impact on your household. For instance, additions will be built and partially finished before the connecting wall is removed. Temporary hook-ups for water and electricity will allow you to continue your daily cooking and cleaning routines.
  • To keep you informed, your builder will name a contact person for your project, usually the site supervisor or the builder personally, who will stay in touch with you throughout the project. You will get regular updates on the progress of the work and be told when to expect tradespeople and when you will be needed for decisions. This person will also be available on short notice to respond to any questions or concerns that you have.
  • Your builder is responsible for meeting deadlines. The contract should clearly outline the project schedule and deadlines to which your builder will work. If the work gets off-track for unforeseen reasons, your builder will discuss the situation with you immediately and find ways to correct it. Your builder will follow up any extension of time claims in writing.
  • Daily clean-up is part of the service. Professional builders leave a clean work site at the end of each day. Be sure to discuss your expectations.

Homeowner responsibilities

  • Clear work areas of furniture, curtain and artwork or other important items. Protect your valuables by placing them in an area where no work is going on, or out of the home, and cover anything that might be harmed by dust.
  • Restrain your pets and children to ensure they do not interrupt the builder and are out of harm’s way.
  • Make early product selections. The contract may stipulate that you select and/or provide specific items such as flooring, lighting equipment, tiles and kitchen cabinets. Have these items available for your builder when needed to ensure the smooth progress of the work.
  • Keep changes to a minimum. Most builders are willing to accommodate changes to the original plan as you go along. However, changes may result in a cost increase or a time delay so make sure to discuss the implications with your builder. Variation documents are amendments to the contract and must be signed by both parties. Major changes will also mean new approvals from council and/or your building certifier.
  • Be available for your builder. Invariably, you will be asked to make a number of smaller decisions as the work progresses. Make sure that your builder can reach you on short notice. At the same time, while it is acceptable to monitor the progress of the works, remember your builder is a licensed professional. Continual interruption or stoppages may cause delays and possible cost increases.
  • Discuss your concerns as they arise. Bring any concerns and questions to your builder’s attention immediately; don’t wait for ‘the right moment’.
  • Provide payment as agreed upon in the payment schedule set up in the contract.
  • Accept the unpredictable. Foul weather, unavailable products, unforeseen complications are all part of the renovation experience and will be dealt with by your builder in a professional manner.

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