Check list for Owner Builder or anyone doing a DIY at home.

Site works and administration:

• Keep diary of all dates once construction starts and all notes of conversations, emails, costs etc with builder in case something needs to be discussed and clarified
• Don’t get builder to do everything just what can’t be completed post build. Save 30% mark-up on items like carpets, floor tiles, wardrobe shelving, paving, painting, fireplaces etc
• Ask for excess sand to be removed from site if not required
• Shop around and compare inclusions between builders, if you want something that isn’t offered by one you may be able to get it included or at least find out the price difference
• Visit builders selection rooms before signing contract to find out what is included and how much it costs
• Ask council/builder for refund of kerb/path damage bond if it has been paid
• Apply for stamp duty refund if built within guidelines and timeframe
• Check you haven’t paid land tax on improved land
• Ask bank how much they value your property once completed
• Find out land value from the Valuer General
• Check builder doesn’t bury any rubbish on site
• Obtain all warranties, instruction manuals, serial numbers for all products installed in the house from the builder
• Ensure copies of your plans and personal details are not dumped into skip
• Make sure contract reflects that the start date is the date that work commences onsite and not the later date after provision of evidence of funding.
• Check that contract only allows for rainy days being claimed before roofing is installed and only if there has been more than 5mm of rain.
• Make sure you know the fall/slope of your land, the flatter your lot the less site costs you’ll incur, most site costs go to cut and fill as well as building retaining walls. Most volume builders won’t build on sites with a fall greater than 3 metres.
• Check the orientation of your block, if the front is north facing then ideally your living areas should be in the front of the house with the bedrooms on the cooler east side, if the rear is north facing, best location for living area is at the back.

House:

• Install frames on open doorways in case you want to install doors later
• If you can’t afford to install a door in certain areas and rooms, install a fastwall lintel so it’s easier and cheaper to install later
• Do any doors come with security locks?
• Ask what locks are keyed-alike so you don’t end up with multiple keys to lock your doors
• Are door stops included and installed?
• Consider installing a secure internal door from garage into house instead of lightweight non-lockable standard door
• Consider rebating external stacker/sliding doors so that the door sill is flush with the concrete slab and there is no ledge
• Check what type of timber the external doors are made of, as cheap timber will warp after being exposed to elements after 12 months, consider using aluminium external doors instead
• Upgrade carpet underlay
• Can skirting boards be laid by builder after handover if organising own flooring installation?
• Check building specifications contract about skirting for tiles, floor tile is sometimes counted as skirting tile and builder will only tile skirting to 200mm, if you want full height skirting you may need to pay extra
• Do you have fly screens and window locks?
• Check all windows open in preferred direction
• Check which windows are fixed and which ones can be opened, important if you want cross air ventilation
• Check location of windows is exactly where you want on final plan before signing off
• Check all windows are the same (sliding/awning) and from the same manufacturer so you don’t have two sets of keys
• Check ceiling height in alfresco is high enough if you want to install a ceiling fan
• Check material used for ceiling roof in alfresco is for outdoors and not indoors
• Think about location of water tanks, clothesline, BBQ, shed, vegie patch, letterbox type
• Perhaps include letterbox in building contract, if you want to build one after handover consider materials and ask builder to leave any leftover bricks behind
• Insulate west wall for radiant heat with glare-shield or something similar, no need to do whole house
• Install or extend eaves
• If you want passive heating/cooling and the rear of your house is north facing, locate veranda/pergola/alfresco to the side and not the back, preferably the west side as extra shading to the house from the sun
• Keep your floor-plan shallow, the sun can’t penetrate more than 4 metres through standard 7 foot windows if you want lots of natural light and you don’t want to install skylights.
• Check the location of the crossover matches the location of the garage for the house you want to build, while you can reverse the floor-plan it may impact negatively on your energy efficiency if your living areas are on the opposite side to where you want them to get the most sun and light.
• Double glaze north facing windows
• Check location of outdoor taps
• Check location of downpipes
• Check location of manhole, in relation to ducted heating if it is too close to all the big ducts then you can’t access any other part of the roof space
 

Electrical:

• Install as many power points and tv points as you can, it’s cheaper now than later
• Install power point in hallways for vacuuming.
• Install power point near cordless phone
• Install power points on internal back walls for external lighting, sensor lights etc
• Consider installing extra power points in garage for second fridge and dryer
• Consider double power point installed in front eaves for Xmas lights
• Consider power point in ceiling cavity can be useful for Christmas lights along roof perimeter
• Consider power points in the floor for table and floor lamps so you don’t have to run extension leads across the floor and behind furniture
• Remember external power point to connect pump for water tanks or along internal wall closest to tanks
• Provision for power and lighting in shed
• Install power points on kitchen island
• Consider power point in broom cupboard if you have rechargeable dust buster or vacuum cleaner
• Install electrical conduit under driveway or path to provide 12 volt electricity for garden lighting
• Check heights of power points also so they suit your needs eg. wall mounted tv
• Install doorbell, important if you have a big house and living areas at rear of house
• Check location of light switches, if installing double doors where none existed originally ensure the light switches aren’t hidden behind doors when opened
• Check that light fixtures also includes the light globes
• Install light and power point in walk-in pantry
• Install outdoor light near clothesline
• Make sure electrical cabling allows for batts insulation to external walls
• Allow extra tv points internet and power points in main living area so you can change orientation of the room and position of the tv
• Consider external lights around perimeter of house so wiring goes through the bricks
• Light switch inside access door from garage into house so you can turn on hall light before entering the house at night
• If not installing ducted heating/cooling install lights in the ceiling cavity with light switch next to manhole opening
• Install household surge protector at meter
• If you have under bench microwave, consider installing an extra power switch at nearest power point so it can be easily switched on/off to save power
• Move electrical switchboard into garage or under stairs in two storey house for easier access
• Install single GPO in meter box for reticulation system
• Install lots of conduits from ceiling cavity into internal wall, you don’t need to connect them all and the electrician can install blank plates ready for future use when needed
• Add a conduit for phone and tv cable for Foxtel installation, if it’s on a cavity wall there is no problem if it isn’t it’s a real pain.
• Install conduits in single brick external walls
• Install junction boxes to run outside lights, 5 downlights under eaves are equivalent to same power usage as two exterior lights
• Consider external light switches in alfresco
• Install junction boxes instead of lights if unsure of light selections
• Consider installing outdoor tv point
 

Services:

• For ducted vacuuming measure the distance between ducts on the plans to ensure the hoses are long enough to reach the entire house or invest in a longer hose
• Provision for water tap in fridge recess for future proofing
• Alternatively don’t install water tap behind fridge, install it inside kitchen cupboards instead and just cut a hole for the water line later, installing tap behind the fridge might not leave enough depth for the fridge to fit in the recess
• Check site for closest gas point, water point and phone conduit, builder will use the closest path to connect these services which may not be what you want/expect.
• Insulate cold water pipe and hot water pipe.
• Provision for split air conditioners if installing later, think about location in relation to external walls
• If installing a split system air conditioner, run a separate circuit from the indoor unit to a junction box on external wall for the outdoor unit and an interconnecting cable between the two units.
• Install capped water point and power points to the roof if you intend on getting evaporative cooling installed later
• If installing evaporative cooling, run in the PVC drainpipe for excess water in brick cavity at pre-lay
• Consider exhaust fan in the laundry or openable window
• Check the location of ceiling vents for heating and cooling in bedrooms so they aren’t directly above °Kcupants heads when beds are moved in
• Provision for grey-water collection from laundry, baths and showers if not connecting straight away
• Consider zoned heating so bedrooms and living areas are on separate lines
• Lay a 4” PVC pipe under driveway before it’s laid so water pipe can be laid for reticulated water to front garden
• Consider floor drainage holes in laundry, bathroom and kitchen. Makes cleaning easier and handy if appliances flood/leak.
• Check drainage for backyard, ensure drains connected to downpipes
• Install extra outdoor taps for backyard as garden hose is often not long enough to reach entire space
• Install outdoor gas point
• Pre lay any stormwater pipes under paving, paths and driveways, saves digging up later
• Consider pre-laying the toilet vent PVC pipe in the wall cavity so is not visible other than outlet through roof
• Install hot water system as close as possible to kitchen as that is where you use small amounts of hot water the most
 

Kitchen:

• Check size of fridge recess as most Korean fridges Samsung, LG etc are 900mm wide which is standard width of recess, ask to increase to 1000mm to cover all brands.
• Check dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, fridge, microwave spaces will fit the models you want
• Check height of rangehood so you don’t hit your head when cooking over stove
• Check depth of fridge recess
• Get adjustable shelves in kitchen cupboards for different sized items
 

Bathroom:

• Think about window size in bathrooms, big windows make bathrooms feel cold
• Obscure windows on toilets/bathrooms
• Check which way shower doors open and stipulate door opening direction in contract for all doors (entry, pantry, wardrobes, shower, internal)
• Ask for tiles to be cleaned and sealed in wet areas so grout doesn’t stain, especially around toilet bowls
• Check location of taps in shower so you don’t have to retract arm through the water after turning hot water on
• Wall mount bathroom taps saves water pooling around taps and easier to clean
• Consider installing an open shower recess instead of shower cabinet
• Consider nib walls between shower recess and vanity
• Think about where you want a medicine cabinet?
• Do you want privacy locks in bathrooms?
 

Bedroom:

• Think about sliding doors for built in robes, not just for saving space but also so you’re not restricted on placement of furniture
• Delete all shelving for walk in robes and built in robes if sourcing own shelving after handover and ensure clothes rails aren’t installed as well
• Check line of sight when people walk in front door and master suite door is open
 

Laundry:

• Check that laundry trough has bypass drain
• Consider pull out or pull-down ironing board in laundry for quick ironing jobs
• Drying cupboard in laundry, install heating duct in cupboard to dry clothes
• Lots of linen cupboard space
• Ventilation in the laundry and a sliding entry door, easier when sorting through clothes
 

Living Areas:

• Check measurements of furniture, allow 12mm for render on walls and don’t forget floor coverings as well when calculating width/height for recesses, alcoves etc
• Ask for wider openings to passageways than the standard, makes it easier to move furniture without having to pull them apart, scratch or bump into corners
• At framing stage, take photos of walls in all rooms before Gyprock goes on so you know location of studs and noggins for later
• Remember curtains and carpet reduce echo in large open plan areas
• Install sound insulation in internal walls
• If you love hanging lots of pictures, photos etc get builder to install an extra row of nogging so you have a solid row of wood to hang from instead of plasterboard
• Consider installing doors to close off open plan areas, provides greater flexibility when kids get older
 

Garage:

• Consider installing manhole in garage so tradesman can do all the work from inside the garage and not the house
• Check height of garage door in case it needs to be raised for 4WD vehicles and hatchbacks
• Consider workshop/storeroom on side of garage, allows extra room for opening car doors, storing bicycles rather than paying for shed later
• Ensure driveway is cut into the gutter where it joins the road so car doesn’t touch the bottom when pulling into driveway

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