Should I speak to a builder before drawing up my plans?

Short Answer:


Long Answer:

I want to tell you two stories. In one story, my client is struggling to move through the process of planning a renovation and in the other, it’s smooth sailing.


Client Number One

Let me tell you about a client I’m currently working with on a significant-scale weatherboard house renovation. The renovation includes a beautiful facade lift, a couple of separate extensions and the entire inside gutted and redone. 

They were a little unsure about the process, which is understandable considering they’d never built or renovated before. Or at the very least, didn’t know of any builders to talk before going ahead with expensive drawings.

So they went to a town planning and draftsman who wrote down what they wanted to do. Getting what you want is fantastic; however, not everyone has unlimited amounts of cash to spend. So, they are stuck with thousands of dollars worth of plans and permits, but they can’t afford to build it at the moment.

These clients have three options:

  1. They will need to go back to the bank to find more money
  2. Not build at all
  3. Spend more time and money redrawing the plans and resubmitting the changes to the council 

None of which are incredible options.


Client Number Two

On the flip side, here’s an example of a well thought out renovation for a lovely couple in Melbourne. They knew they wanted to have more space and were considering spending about $100,000 on renovation work. They tried to reconfigure the house so they could turn their top storey from a pokey two bedroom, one bathroom to an expansive two-bedroom, two bathrooms. 

They booked a consultation, and they told me their plans for what they wanted to achieve for 100,000k. I kindly informed them that it wasn’t possible to have an extension done within their budget. We came up with some different solutions for moving a couple of walls around and viola they got what they wanted and well within budget. I think they even had some money left over for a trip to Bali for two weeks. So that is the power of professional advice. 

I find that it’s beneficial to work with your builder before starting, tell him your budget and use your builders’ expert advice on:

  • How much you want to spend and;
  • What you want to achieve with your renovation

Yes, it might cost you a couple of hundred bucks to get a professional builder out to give you advice, but the chances are that you’ll save money in the end. I don’t know one other profession that doesn’t charge for their time consulting with clients. Think of doctors, lawyers, physios, chiros, counsellors, the list goes on for so many professional industries. You want your builder to be professional considering you’re spending big bucks creating your new home. You want a trusted team of professionals that can get the job done defect-free, on time, within budget and without a hiccup. Well, it all starts with the initial consultation.

You’ll be using their knowledge and be shortcutting the process by benefitting from your builders’ many years of experience building for people just like you.


What’s Next? 

Consult a professional builder for advice before you engage with a draftsperson, architect or town planner. 

For those of you who don’t know what a town planner is. They are typically a team of professionals that understand the council regulations and can apply on your behalf to the council to get your permits through for your extension or significant renovation. My town planners have draftsman, land surveyors and people who put applications into your local council.


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