Working Out

Working Out


If you’re planning a new outdoor structure or home renovation, read on

Australians love nothing more than a good home renovation, and one of the most popular home renovation projects is the creation of an indoor-outdoor entertainment area. This might take the form of a new deck, patio, pergola or gazebo. It might also involve some building work on the home — typically the opening of the back of the house to create a real sense of connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces. To get the balance just right and avoid costly mistakes, there’s much to consider before the first pergola post is sunk or decking board nailed into place.

Being prepared
- The first thing to do is closely examine your budget. Keep in mind that you may need to pay for more than just the cost of building and fitting out the new structure. With bigger or more complex projects, you may also have to pay for site works (such as removing old concrete, rock or trees), plants and the landscape designer or architect fees.

- A well-planned and well-built outdoor living structure will boost the resale value of your property. If you haven’t yet saved what you need, look into what financing options are available to fund your renovation or new outdoor building project.

- Explore all your options. Devour magazines, visit display centres, check out display homes — anything to give you ideas on design, materials and décor. When a special feature catches your eye, make a note of it.

Planning stage
– Before choosing a builder or contractor and signing a contract, ask for references and to see examples of their work. And ensure the builder or contractor is properly licensed.

- Ensure the contract takes the form of a recognised building contract and before signing anything make sure you know exactly what is included in the price and that this is clearly stated in the contract. As work gets underway, ensure any amendments or alterations are agreed to in writing and signed by all parties.

- Ensure the proper home warranty and public liability insurances are taken out. This is the builder’s responsibility but check to see everything is in place. Also ensure that relevant paperwork has been submitted and approved, such as a Development Application or Construction Certificate. Again, this is your builder’s responsibility but it’s good to check.

- Before approving the final plan, check it thoroughly so you understand exactly what is being built and what will be involved. Ensure any amendments or alterations are reflected in your plans and specifications.

Construction phase
– Get your site manager’s contact number and give them yours. Also, either you or your partner should make regular site visits, even if you both work, to monitor progress and discuss issues that arise during the building process.

- If any changes are made during the construction process, these should always be in writing and signed by all parties.

- Always have a notebook with you so you can keep a record of all discussions with your builder or contractor and make progress notes. When you receive a claim for a progress payment (which usually only happens on major projects), double-check that the work has reached the appropriate stage.

- When you receive the claim for final payment, check every aspect of the structure or renovation to ensure you are happy with the end result. Keep a note of any minor defects and tell the builder or contractor he has a legal responsibility to rectify any problems.

With all this sorted, it’s now time to hand over the final payment and make plans to invite friends and family over to enjoy your new indoor-outdoor living and entertaining area.