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Building Your Home

Building Your Home

Once you have fulfilled all legal requirements by obtaining all necessary consents and insurances are in place, you are ready to start.

Building Project Elements

Site

Site Preparation

Initially the site is cleared before the groundwork can commence. Sediment controls are put in place on sloping sites to stop earth falling onto the road or into drains and waterways. The groundwork may involve digging up the area and replacing the soil with a more suitable material for supporting the foundations. It may also involve grading and forming the land to suit both the house and the landscaping. Security fencing will be erected and will remain so throughout the construction period. The houses dimensions and positions are marked out on the ground with a string line for the perimeter of construction so the foundations can be laid. The floor is poured and the footprint of your home takes shape. Also at this stage, the establishment of services (water, electricity, stormwater, sewerage and gas) takes place.

 

Footings and Floor Construction

Factors that influence the type of footings used are:

  • Weight of the building
  • Wall construction type and height
  • Soil type
  • Slope of the block
  • Budget
  • Drainage requirement

The main types of footings are:

  • Strip footings – a small strip of concrete placed in a trench and reinforced with steel, supporting the load of the exterior walls, any interior walls that are load bearing, or supports slabs such as a bathroom
  • Concrete pad footings – simple and cost effective, used for the vertical support and the transfer of the building loads to the ground. Holes are dug into the ground and fitted with reinforcement and then filled with concrete mix to ground level. Concrete pad footings are used to support timber-framed houses
  • Pole construction – is the most economical way to construct footings on a sloping site, but an engineer’s details will be required as consideration needs to be given to the spacing of the poles, the correct height and depth of the poles, and whether the poles are to be timber or steel
  • Timber Piles – a cost effective method, timber piles are hammered deep into the ground for the full length (6000mm) or until they hit bedrock

Types of floor structures:

  • Pier and beam construction – most commonly used, the piers sit directly onto the concrete pad footings with the bearers resting on top of the piers and usually running the direction of the longest walls. Joists are then laid in the opposite direction and are often clad in chipboard before the final floor is installed at the end of the construction process
  • Concrete slabs – reinforced raft slab is the simplest, most common slab construction available. Trenches are dug along the perimeter of external walls and load bearing walls, reinforcement bars are laid, and moisture protection, drainage and sewerage pipes are positioned. Form work for the slab is laid and concrete poured that covers the entire floor area

 

Structure

Once the foundation is set and floor structures are in place, the walls are erected directly on top of the chipboard or slab. Walls act as load bearing support for the roof, provide space for the openings such as doors and windows, enclose the house and seal it from the weather. Types of framing include:

  • Timber and steel – the most common type of house wall framing is timber or steel, which are usually pre-made to order
  • Post and beam – steel or timber, are used when building elements are to be exposed
  • Solid masonry – this includes double brick, core filled concrete block and natural stone used both as load bearing structures and outside cladding surfaces. All masonry walls require damp proofing to stop rising damp creeping up surfaces

Enclosure

There are many different roof shapes. The most common are:

  • Hip and gable
  • Flat (they appear flat but they have some pitch for water run off)
  • Skillioned – a flat roof that has a significant pitch
  • Butterfly – two skillioned roofs with box gutter in the middle

This stage finishes the outside of the home and protects the inside from the elements. From the outside, at least, your home looks almost done. When selecting your façade and roof covering, consider the maintenance costs and requirements, and how long the product will last. Remember that the cheapest product out of the box will not necessarily be the least expensive over the long term.

When the roof, windows, and doors are installed, the exterior walls and roof is clad and the building can be secured – this is the lock up stage.

Interior

Insulation is then added to the exterior walls and the roof – although some products will air seal and insulate in one step. The quality of insulation material can make a big difference in energy bills too, so it pays to get it right. Righthouse are a Future-Proof Building professional partner who are experienced in this area.

Once everything behind the walls is complete, the flooring, gib, tiles and cabinetry are installed, and the home is painted. This is the longest phase, for good reason. Unlike the mechanical rough-in step, subcontractors in the interior finish steps usually cannot do work at the same time.

Services

Once the interior of the house is properly protected from the elements it is time to fit the services: plumbing, gas, electrical and other systems are to be installed. There will be many different trades people onsite performing a number of functions and installing a number of systems. Some considerations for the services and systems you may want to install are:

  • Stormwater: Stormwater drainage disposes of roof water, surface water and underground water. This is usually deposited into one onsite stormwater drain that channels the water into the main stormwater system. Depending on where you are building, some councils require the installation of a stormwater retention tank, which will control and slow the rate at which water enters the main stormwater system in wet weather. Many councils also encourage homeowners to plant a rain garden.
  • Sanitary plumbing: Sanitary plumbing links the house drainage system to taps, basins, baths, showers, laundry tubs, sinks and toilets.
  • Main sewer and house drainage: Wastewater is commonly discharged into sewer mains for offsite treatment. The house drainage system connects sanitary pipes to the invert (where onsite sewage pipes meet the main council pipe).
  • Grey water: The process of collecting water from washing machines, showers and basins, to be used on gardens. If you wish to include a grey water system, you need to make this decision early in the design so the appropriate plumbing can be laid and a dedicated storage tank installed.
  • Hot water system: Main considerations are the capacity of the system, how much energy they use (they are the single biggest contributor to the household greenhouse gas emissions). Consideration needs to be given to whether you wish to use gas or electricity.
  • Electrical: Electrical installation occurs in two parts:
    • Rough in – as the house structures are put in place and before the walls are sealed, the electrician lays the wiring between the points of supply and the outlets according to the electrical diagram.
    • Fix out – when the cladding is complete, the outlets are fixed according to the specification, the colour and style.

Landscaping

This step can occur any time after the exterior finishes are complete but it is usually done concurrently with interior finishes. When landscaping, select native plants that do not require much water and make sure that there are plenty of trees to act as a wind break to shade the home in the summer. Also consider using pervious surfaces for your paths and driveways to allow rainwater to filter directly into the soil.

The following landscaping work requires a building consent:

  • Building decks over 1m
  • Retaining walls above 1.5m in height
  • Retain driveways or structures regardless of height
  • Plumbing and drainage that is not routine maintenance
  • Construction/installation of swimming pools and spas
  • Construction of fences constructed from concrete/block work/steel or above 2m in height
  • Garages and garden sheds over 10 sqm
  • Installation of any roof, wall or free-standing communication aerials

Progress Payments

Building payments are generally broken down into 5 installments:

1. Site works and foundation, permits and fees, architects: 15%

2. Wall and roof framing, roof installed: 20%

3. Internal and external lining, plumbing and electrical: 30%

4. Room fit out and finish kitchen and bathrooms, floor and wall coverings: 25%

5. Retentions: 10% (Retentions are usually 5-10% of the price of the job. This is held back until the job is complete. For example, when the builder has finished you will carry out a site inspection to ensure everything is okay, any defects are noted (this is called a snagging list) and the builder will be given the opportunity to correct the faults within a set time. If the builder does not do this and another company needs to be brought in to complete the job they are paid from the retention money).

Keeping a close eye on your budget is integral at all stages of the build project. There are many quotes and suppliers involved with price adjustments taking place on a daily basis. As you work through the construction process try to quantify your spend with your estimated costings from before your building commenced.

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