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How Do I

stay on track
& on time

For those thinking of building or renovating your family home. Let us help you get clear and prepare for what lays ahead both seen and some unforeseen.
Our series of modules are solution based publications founded on over 32 years of experience in residential building.
We have all heard of the 80:20 rule, our information will get you ready.

Dispute Resolution


Many disputes on building sites simply arise from poor communication, documentation and a basic lack of understanding building work practices. 

Even though dispute resolutions and/or arbitration are common in the building industry. It’s always nicer to aim for an amicable solution outside of the courts and legal chambers. 

Recording of Events

Some hints on record keeping to minimise the risk of disputes;

Proper contract documentation in the form of drawings and specifications.

Clearly stated rights and responsibilities of all parties.

A complete record of correspondence and instructions kept on file.

A clear line of communication, it is a good idea to have only one delegated person to deal with the contractor.

Receive quotations and all responses in writing before any extra work commences.

Keep an accurate record of all contract sum adjustments and delays.

Keep a log of events in a diary.

Bottom Line

Put everything in writing, document key events, milestones and discussion. If it cannot do it at that time follow it up with memo to the contractor confirming your understanding of what was agreed to.

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Understanding Contracts

A contract is basically made up of three components, a request, an offer and a consideration, the consideration is also known as the conditions of the contract.

It is always good practice to enter into a formal written agreement with a licensed contractor when undertaking any building work.

A contract should clearly detail to each party their respective scope of works, obligations and responsibilities.


Standard Contracts

Commonly used are standardised forms of contracts, which are published by related building industry associations.

Such as The Plain English Building Contract as published by The Department Of Fair Trade NSW, The Housing Industry Association, The Master Builders Associations, and The Royal Australian Institute of Architects.

Take time to understand the contract before signing. For information on where to obtain these standard contracts ask your Local Council, Architect or relevant State Government Authority.

Choose an appropriate contract and understand it well. If a contractor suggests another standard type contract, obtain a copy and study it well. If there are any areas of uncertainty seek advice.


Owner Builders

For Owner Builders, the terms of payment to sub-contractors including progress claim periods, delays in payments and retention on payments should be included in the sub-contract conditions.


Types of Contracts

The majority of contracts used in residential work are of a lump sum type contract. A lump sum contract is where a total cost is agreed upon for the whole of the works as detailed on relevant drawings and specifications. However, the final amount paid may change due to authorised variations or approved cost adjustments. 

Some standard contracts allow for supervision or inspection by the owner. It gives the owner or their representative a range of duties related to the works, which can include the checking of quality, authorisation of notices, certifying and making payment.

Some standard contracts also allow for the owner to appoint an architect or suitably qualified person to inspect the construction on the owner’s behalf.

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Budgeting and Estimation

It is always good practice to prepare a budget for the proposed works prior to commencement. It will assist you in the attaining of finance and allow you to explore alternative construction of methods to meet your budget.

It is possible to estimate cost by using a square metre basis for the proposed area of new works and values can be fairly accurate. However, this exercise should be attempted with the assistance of a suitably qualified professional or publication.  The internet and even the yellow pages are also a source of information, one can make inquiries to obtain indicative rates or schedules for the various trades. You may even come across a contractor who you feel was quite helpful which may be utilised on your project.

For more indicative costing, one can “breakdown” (as shown below) the project into its various trade components and apply associated rates or schedules which can be obtained from the building industry or related publications. (i.e.; Cordell Building Publications and The Rawlinsons Group).


Cost Break Down Components

Council & Statutory Authority Fees

Architectural & Engineering Design & Documentation

Preliminaries (Includes Supervision & Site  Establishment etc )



Structural Carpentry

Roof Lining

External Wall (Brick Work or Cladding)


Interior Lining (Plaster Board or Render)

Joinery (Doors, Hardware, Stairs, Skirting etc)



Floor Covering

Wall & Floor Tiling



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