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  1. #1
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    Default Renovations from start to finish Part A

    For no real reason I have decided to start tracking our renovations on the forum, from start to finish. I have been posting pits and pieces of our internal work, but I figure I can get heaps of good advice if I start posting info about the work we are undertaking outside. I'll add photos as we go.

    Getting up to speed. We are currently getting quotes from builders for the complete job, however we have decided in the last few days to do it as owner builders. Originally we were going to go with a fixed price contract because which bank wouldn't lend money to owner builders, however we have since found that we are getting very high quotes from the builders and have figured out that there are other banks around. We are using a mortgage broker who is chasing up banks who will lend what we need to owner builders.

    The process so far. We spent some 12 months looking at options regarding purchasing a new house, demolishing this one, adding on etc. I think we had around 15 or 16 different options. In the end we have settled on adding on because we got the house at such a good price $88,000 and 2 years later it (as is) it is probably worth around $200,000. Now, we figure that including added value of the addition, we could theortically spend around $200,000 and not over capitalise. However we want to avoid the trap of spending the money that we are capable of spending and only spend what we have to. There are also of course a myriad of life style choices which come with this house as well.

    Once we decided on the addition, we then looked at what to do - go up, go sideways or go back. We decided on building over our driveway( sideways), because the drive runs the length of the house, is relatively useless space, we have rear lane access and we can design the house to match the existing.

    With our layout already in mind we went to a draftee who took about a week or so (very quick) to come up with plans which we then took to the council.

    To be continued.............
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

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  3. #2
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    Default Photos of house as is.

    These are the photos the place prior to construction, so as it is at the moment. I have cleared some trees down the driveway, we got a lopper in for that, after council approval. The lopper cost around $600 for 2 big trees and stump grinding about 6 stumps. He also left us a couple of cubes of mulch for our front garden. I was happy to do the lopping myself, but swmbo and common sense prevailed given my prediliction for having stuff land on our house. Basically he's insured and I'm not!!

    I also cleared a car port and concrete the length of the driveway and along the back of the house(to date I used about nine 5 cubic metre bins - at about $150 each).

    I have also included a photo of my labourer - angry little bastard that he is.

    To be continued ................
    Last edited by Wood Butcher; 7th October 2007 at 11:14 PM.
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  4. #3
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    Default The drawings Part B

    After we talked to way too many people (relatives have no place in deciding house plans ), we started looking for architects. Now it turns out that, and you can apply this principle to everybody you need to use in your home construction, that architects are way too busy and generally not interested in additions and renovations, so we broadened our search towards draftspeople . And I would suggest running with a draftee who uses CAD rather than drawing (assuming they still exist) because we have been able to go back with a myriad of changes which he makes on the spot for us.

    Aside from the normal elevations and site plans we also required a Shadow Plan, to appease our neighbour (more about that under council approval).

    I have included the drawings of the existing and new plans to provide some perspective on the project. You may notice that the extension is only 3000mm wide, which is really at the lower end of the scale on room sizes. We were bound by the boundary which was only 3850 away, and this complicated things for us. Our application to the council was therefore for what is called a Zero Lot Line (building on the boundary) but more about that later.

    The drawings (9 pages in all) cost $700 which I thought was pretty reasonable

    To be continued ............
    Last edited by Wood Butcher; 7th October 2007 at 11:14 PM.
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  5. #4
    Join Date
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    Location
    Blackburn, Vic
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    55
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    Default

    That's a really good idea.

    Basically you are using the forum as a kind of Blog site.

    Maybe we could have a separate forum for individual projects where each person could take out a thread allowing them to track their projects. Others could see what they are doing and add comments and you would then have a dated history of what you were up to.

    How about it, admins?

    I've been thinking about the same thing, so thanks for the extra inspiration.

    Simon
    They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. They're not laughing now.
    Bob Monkhouse

  6. #5
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    Default Council Approval Part C

    Everyone has horror stories regarding local councils and approvals etc, however so far I have found the processs relatively straight forward. My only advice is to always provide an amicable avenue for everyone (neighbours, council, subbies etc) to approach you through. If I start a big antagonistic letter writing campaign, I am only going to create heartache for myself. So my approach (as with most things anyway) is to maintain face to face contact with all parties.

    The first part of the council approval is for a development application (DA), this basically outlines what our concepts are and gives the council a broad brush idea of what we are trying to achieve. The second step, which we haven't got to yet is a construction certificate, which tells the council exactly how the building will be made. So the council can make sure we aren't building it with paper mache!!

    When we originally approached the council we asked about building to within 500mm of the boundary. And we were advised that we could either apply for a wall which was 1200mm from the boundary (which would make the internal rooms too small) or on the boundary (which would give us heaps of room inside, but it meant we could only build a parapet wall with a box gutter - a 3300mm high wall with the gutter on the inside, a rather ugly set-up and not within keeping our original idea of matching the existing house).

    So we figured we had no choice but to apply to build on the boundary (a Zero Lot Line). Now we have 8 neighbours who were sent plans of the proposal by the council and had none of them objected we would have been ready to roll. However our nearest neighbour kicked up a fuss, with good reason, and we subsequently arranged an on site meeting between the 2 owners from next door, 5 council staff and myself. Aside from little bits and pieces, the neighbour suggested why dont we build to the width of the gutter (about 450mm). I said what a grand idea and the council agreed and we ended up with a house which is 600mm in from the boundary.

    Being 600mm in still has some other ramifications, as it is still classed as a Zero Lot Line (because it is within the 1200mm) we need to build a fire rated wall (masonry construction with cement sheeting under the eaves), there are no windows allowed along the length of the boundary which is within the 1200mm, although we did get concession for some glass bricks about 1800mm up in the middle room.

    One little tid bit, is that when you get written material from the council, don't panic if it doesn't make sense. As with any bureacracy they tend to use way too many words to say not much at all, so it may take a little to figure out what they are actually saying. I find I can get a translation from just ringing someone at the council ( I have rung 3 different people before I could find someone who could things in layman terms), or the other way is to apply the 3 Cooper principle, which of course works for clarifying most things as well.

    So now we have our approved DA and can start getting quotes from builders

    The approval process from the council cost $420 and is inclusive of the DA and the complying construction certificate.

    To be continued..........
    Last edited by namtrak; 9th March 2005 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Costing FYI
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  7. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by simon c
    .... as a kind of Blog site.....
    That's a neat way of looking at it - I write a blog to stop getting in the blog...

    And in the vein of all good blogs, there is a bloody dog yapping up the road which is tied up to a post with about a foot of chain and has been yapping since 8am!!!! Owners are pathetic.....
    Last edited by namtrak; 9th March 2005 at 12:28 PM. Reason: My gramma is worse than my smelling
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  8. #7
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    Default Building Quotes Part D

    This is the easiest part so far - not!!!!!!

    When we originally approached the bank for broad brush approval they advised us that we would need a licenced builder and a fixed price contract to get the job done. Now I know at least half a dozen builders who work as subbies, and whilst not licenced builders they would all do a great job. Unfortunately the bank stipulates that we must use a fixed price contract, home warranty insurance (for jobs over $12,000) and a licenced builder. So....

    We start going through the phone book, there are 78 builders listed in our yellow pages and I reckon we have rung all them once and some of them twice.

    "Gidday, my name is Mick I'm looking for a builder to put in a quote on a job. It's rendered brick veneer, about 10 squares, we also need a kitchen refurbished and a ensuite"

    "I can look at it in 9 months"

    "I can put a quote in in about 2 months"

    "I'm busy through to 2006''

    "Catch up with me on my job site and I'll look at the plans here"

    "Too busy, but try ......"

    Ad In Finitum......

    We ended up with 9 builders who came and looked at the job, and I reckon we got 5 usable quotes.

    And this is where things get interesting. Our first quote was for $248,000. Which if we are generous and allow $28,000 for the kitchen (Im providing benchtops) and the ensuite, comes in at around $22,000 a square!!! This is roughly how builders look at the cost of a job. A square is 10 feet by 10 feet, so this addition (including verandah) is roughly 95 sqm or about 10 squares (not a biggie in the scheme of things). As a comparison we can get a brand new 4 bedroom house, 20 square house, heating, cooling - all the fruit, built for around $185,000 or about $9,000 a square.

    The next quote $218,000 and the next $200,000 (with a note saying this is how much my quote is, but I am too busy to build your house!!) Get the picture.

    So we sit down and have a confab about what we do.

    First decision is to remove the kitchen and the ensuite from the quotes. We think the builders are worried about blowouts on these sort of items so they are building in higher margins on the kitchen and the ensuite. We realise we still need to get them done, but we can probably get a more competitive price direct from installers for those components. It will also give me time to argue my case with SWMBO for me doing them myself!!

    Second decision is we call those builders that are still interested and ask them not to include the kitchen, ensuite, wiring or plumbing in their quotes. We have a sparkie who is helping me rewire our existing house, and plumber who is a friend of the family. We are now reduced to 4 usable quotes. (Only 1 has come in so far)

    Third decision, is based on a meeting with our mortgage broker. He suggested that whilst we could get around $200,000 the repayments are going to be pretty high and we needed to consider our lifestyle choices
    He suggests we try a different bank whom he is confident will come to the party for a much reduced loan to an owner builder. It is entirely understandable why banks are gun shy, about lending large sums to owner builders. I would hate to have to go back to the bank and say that money was great but now we need to put the walls up!!

    So we decide to bite the bullet and become owner builders. Given that we already have access to a plumber and sparkie (and I can do the plastering, painting, tiling and floor sanding), we now need to find a brickie and a carpenter who can guide us through the balance of the process. We are confident that we can knock prices down on most of the materials, with my good looks and swmbo's negotiation skills (or is that the other way around). With us becoming owner builders it also brings back into the game, some of the subbies I know locally who are more than proficient.

    We are now enrolling in a one-day Owner Builder course (a state government requirement), and I am about to advise the council that we have altered the process. I also need (and I'm sort of dreading this one - might cost me a six pack) to contact the 4 remaining builders and talk to them about where we are going and if they are still interested in providing quotes, for albiet much reduced work loads.

    To be continued...........
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  9. #8
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    Lightbulb Electricity into the house Part E

    This bit didn't start off as part of the addition but it has sort of worked it's way in.

    Originally we were going to leave our electricity where it is coming into the house on the North side (to the right in the piccies), however the box is very old and our sparkie has suggested we renew it. He also originally suggested we move the box to wall on the new addition (the South side) because Country Energy (the local authority) will require us to move the incoming wire as it currently crosses the neighbours property (this is a big no no). And whilst they are happy with the status quo, Country Energy has said that they will require us to move it as part of any renovations.

    So everything was going along swimmingly until the sparkie realised that the distance between the boundary and the wall on the new bit was only 600mm. Which means it would be illegal to place a box there. Given that the door on the box has a 600mm swing and that should something explode there, a person has nowhere to back away to!! Therefore we are now replacing the switch box in it's existing position, but to sidestep the power over the neighbour we are putting up a 3 metre high pole (+1200 into the ground!) at the front of our house and running the power underground to the switch box. This means once I finish typing this and a little plastering I have I will be back into hand trenching a 600mm deep trench from the house to the pole (about 4m). I am hand trenching cause it's not that far and also I am very near our water mains and Telstra cable (gas mains is on the other side of the house thankfully)

    Between the cost of the pole, new switch box, sparkies time, Country Energy fee and bits and pieces, this costs around $1400

    To be continued............
    Last edited by namtrak; 9th March 2005 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Darn those costs FYI
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  10. #9
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    Default

    Oviously way too much time on your hands.

    You should be out ther doing the work yourself.

    Al :confused:

  11. #10
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    Procrastination
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  12. #11
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    Default

    As one very obnoxious Oz says, COME ON!!!!


    Al

  13. #12
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    Default

    An interesting read - having gone hrough the exact same process a couple of years ago it brought back many memories.

    A couple of points - I totally agree with the "go with the draftsman" approach. we found a lot of builders we spoke to won't do work designed by architects. "They don't think about how the thing is going to be built" - now I know this is a generalisation, however I have 2 friends who all had extensions designed by architects and then went and got quotes, and the cost had blown out - went back to see a draftsman and got what they wanted pretty quickly.

    Second, the costings look about right - we were advised to allow around $2500/sqm for extensions/renovations and about $1000-1500/sqm for new buildings.
    Builders quoting for renovations build in a LOT of slack... you know what it's like, you pull th egyprock off a wall only to find problemX which couldn't be seen before..... so you pay dearly for that fixed price quote.

    Another avenue is to go with a time and materials quote, but you need to manage the builder then to ensure no cost overrun.......

  14. #13
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    Default Owner Builders Part F

    So now that we have received our fixed quotes from builders and believe that the prices seem very high, we have gone back to the banks whom have now agreed to lend a lesser amount for us to become owner builders.

    Thankfully my SWMBO has agreed to do the day long course at TAFE which is required by the Dept of Fair Trading (I could think of nothing worse)

    My first step has been to create a spreadsheet of all expenditure. I broke the spreadsheet into 4 components.

    Building Materials: iron, bricks, cement etc

    Add-in Materials: windows, doors, taps etc

    Labour: Sparkie, Plumber, Subbies etc

    Sundries: Insurance, Fees

    I then broke each item down into it's base unit (kg, litre, sqm, lineal metre etc) and it price per unit (I tried to overestimate a little here) and finally I calculated how much I would need for each item.

    I have included a copy of these estimates as PDF documents - feel free to provide comment. Also take note that between today and when we actually finish building I reckon these estimates will change quite a bit. If I remember I will post a copy of the actual expenditure at the end of the process (June 2020 - when the Apes will rule the Planet. Mental Note: build tire swing in lounge room to accommodate future leaders)

    This has given me a place to start working with.

    I have now gone to 5 building supply companies (Bunnings, Dahlsens, Home Hardware, Timber-it, Roofing Centre), plus numerous door, cabinet, window suppliers with a copy of my job list (less the costings) and a copy of the plans.(Although I didnt need to get my own copies as each of the suppliers offered to make copies - save enough for a cuppa and scone here). Most have said it will take about a week for them to come back with their quotes. They have also indicated that there is roughly a 3 to 6 week wait on materials coming in.

    I am also getting quotes from companies further afield, in particular Fowles in Melbourne. And also for individual items such as glass bricks, windows and doors etc. I am largely doing this to cross check the quotes I get, and I would probably only get the materials from further afield if there is a substantial cost saving.

    Out biggest single expense will be labour for the subbies. I have 2 mates who have put their hand up and are very competent. They have offered to do the job at $25 per hour. So I calculated the labour charge at $75 per hour for 500 hours (12 weeks).

    A side effect of the cost process, has been, that I can now give SWMBO a distinct budget for each of the Add-in items and she can pick them up as she sees things that she likes. Rather than draggin me around to check out taps, the sit-a-bility of a dunny, tiles, ad nauseum.... For example, she has a budget of $90 for a tap, $500 for a basin, etc

    We have also been led to believe that we will only need to take out Home Warranty Insurance if we plan to sell the house in under 6 years. Depending on the cost of the insurance we may make that commitment and forgo the added expenditure.

    I guess it is easy to say now, but in hindsight, we should have done this costing exercise before we even went to the builders. It would have given us a much greater understanding of the quotes we were getting.

    Cost estimates:

    Building Materials: $35,380
    Add-ins: $21,475
    Labour: $53,000
    Sundries: $4,500
    Failsafe 20%: $22,871

    Total: $137,226

    The cheapest quote we have so far from a builder is $218,000

    Aside from time, this process has cost us about $20 so far. Petrol and photocopying.

    To be continued............procrastination

    NB for those that may be interested the Kitchen Cabinets in the add-in items who as $300 they should be $3000 (so add another $2700 plus 20% onto the total)
    Last edited by Wood Butcher; 7th October 2007 at 11:14 PM.
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

  15. #14
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    Received our Owner Builder course in the mail last night. Cost $95. Study at home and complete a 4 page 'exam' (half is multiple choice). It's approved by Fair Trading, which is all I care about.

    Going through similar process at the moment myself, only for an entire house. We're going with a kit home (2 actually), which is not an option for you, but will save us a heap. We are building a 39 square house and it will cost about $160,000.
    "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

  16. #15
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    Default

    Yeh, probably the way to go if it was a new home $4,000 a square for a kit home as opposed to about $9,000 a square for a package. And 39 squares is pretty big!!! Our house when we're finished will be about 18 squares - your gonna need a scooter to get around!
    There was a young boy called Wyatt
    Who was awfully quiet
    And then one day
    He faded away
    Because he overused White


    Floorsanding in Canberra and Albury.....

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