Step 1 - Know Exactly What You Want
Once you have made the decision to extend or renovate your home, it's now time to go through all the options as to how you are going to achieve your desired result.
The possibilities are endless..."Do we add a double story?", "Should we knock down this wall?", "Could we add an extra bathroom?"
All these types of questions will need to be answered before you move onto step two of the process. Try not to think about budgets or how much something might cost at this point, your goal here is to try and design something that functions best for you and your family. Spend quality time discussing your options and making some solid decisions so that you can confidently move onto step number two.
Step 2 - Make Contact
Now that you have made the decision of exactly what you want, it's time to call someone...but who?
You have three options. We will go through why each option may be the right choice for you.
1. Contact a Registered Building Practitioner
If you are on a tight budget and are concerned about how much your desired design might cost, contacting a builder may be the best option for you. Though they will not be able to quote on your project at this time, they may be able to give you a rough idea of the costs involved. They may also be able to give you ideas that may be more cost effective for the project. A lot of builders have good ideas about design but not quite as good as architects or draftspersons. They will not be able to draw plans for you but may provide a service that can help you with that.
2. Contact a DraftsPerson
If you think your design is perfect and you think it will fit into your budget then it's best to make contact with a drafts person. A draftsperson will come out and measure up your home and put your design on paper. You don't need a draftsperson to come out for a quote, you can get a quote for their service over the phone and then you just need them to come out to your house to start measuring.
3. Contact an architect
If you want something quite different to the everyday home, perhaps something bold and eye catching, then it's best you contact an architect. Architects are great at designing unique and 'wow factor' spaces, however, keep in mind that quite often these ideas can cost a lot more to build! So, if you are not concerned about your budget and want a creative idea for your home, an architect is the right person for you to call.
Remember, at this point you still have no real idea how much this project is going to cost you. You may have a very rough idea but that's it. It is important to understand that a builder cannot quote a major project without all the plans and documentation. If you wish to proceed and move onto step three, you will now need to invest some money into your project to get these documents underway so you can get quotes.
Step 3 - Get Your Documentation
Here is where we answer the question, what do I need? You have made contact and spoken to the right people, now you need to invest some money into the project to pay for the required documents. Here's exactly what you need to get (in order).
1. Architectural Drawings
The architectural drawings are done by either an architect or a drafts person (this depends on who you decided to contact in step two). The drawings show you what the project is going to look like on paper. You will get a floor plan, elevations, site plan etc.
If you wish you can ask for electrical plans, kitchen plans and/or bathroom plans but this is not required, it just makes quoting easier and more accurate.
2. Soil Test
A soil test is conducted by a soil engineer and is a document that tells you the type of soil your house is on and the strength of it. It also tells the builder how deep to dig any foundations for the project.
The soil engineer dig three holes in three different locations around your house. They will then write a document with all the information required for the builder and structural engineer. It is important that the soil test is done before you contact a structural engineer as the structural engineer needs this document to be able to generate his plan.
3. Structural Engineers Plan
A structural engineer designs everything structurally required for the project. Things like steel work, beam sizes and footing sizes are all itemised on this plan. In my opinion, this plan is the most important plan in any project. The structural engineer does not need to come to your home, they can design their plan just from the architectural plans and soil test report, so make sure you have this all ready and send it through to your engineer so they can proceed with the design.
4. Energy Report
An energy report is quite simple really; it tells you things like the rating your insulation needs to be, and whether or not you need double glazed windows. It's all designed to achieve a 6 star rating that will save you on energy costs while living in your finished home.
These are the four main documents required in order to obtain a full quote from a builder and to be well on your way to getting a building permit.
Step 4 - Send Your Documents and Get Your Quotes
You have your documents and are now ready to contact your builders for quotes. The builders will require all of your documents to be able to give you a full quote.
Be prepared to be a little bit patient in this step as quoting large jobs can take some time. Choose wisely with your builders. Remember, the most expensive person is not necessarily the best, and the cheapest, the worst! It's about who you trust and who you believe will do the best job for you.
Remember, you may have most documents required for a building permit, but you cannot get a building permit without signing up with a builder. So before you move onto step five, you need to make your decision on who is going to build your project and put pen to paper.
Step 5 - Get Your Building Permit
Now it's time for you to send through the documents you obtained in step three to a private building surveyor for your building permit. A building surveyor is someone who can issue you with a building permit. They also conduct all the on site building inspections during the construction period. Once the project is finished the building surveyor also issues you with an occupancy certificate to say that the house is fit to live in.
You need to be aware that the building surveyor may ask for extra documentation or information required for a building permit depending on the type of area you live in. The items obtained in step three are the main items required but may not be all.
Step 6 - Dig Holes and Hammer Nails
Congratulations, you are now ready to start changing your home. Remember, building can be stressful but try to enjoy it as much as you can. The reward is at the end. You will be able to enjoy your newly renovated home for many more years to come. Good luck and happy building!