Tips For Home Owners

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Mount Wilson new home 2013

 
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Blue Mountains home built in Bushfire remote area

 
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Mount Wilson new home 2012

 
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Mount Wilson croquet pavilion 2013

 
 
 
How Builder's Rip Off Their Clients
There are numerous ways builder's can rip off their clients. Some things owners should be aware of are listed below ;
  • PC ALLOWANCES. This an allowance for an item that cannot be costed exactly. For example ¡V Kitchen cupboards, supply of tiles or bathroom fittings, siteworks, etc. Some PC allowances may be unavoidable but a tender should NOT have PC allowances for basic items such as frames & trusses, windows, roofing and alike. The best quotes have little or no PC allowances so that these costs cannot increase during construction
  • UNREALISTIC PC ALLOWANCES. If a PC is to be included it should be a realistic figure and if possible with a schedule of rates. There may need to be an element of trust between the owner & builder in estimating this amount of PC allowance.
  • UNQUOTED VARIATIONS. Most variations can be quoted for before any work is completed. However if in the rare case it cannot be quoted (eg replacement of termite damaged timber) the variation needs to be proved by supplying a copy of any material purchase invoices to the owner plus a charge for labour at an agreed rate and a builder percentage for overheads and profit
  • CONCRETE PIERING. Any concrete piering should be completed at an agreed rate. The owner should inspect the amount of pier holes completed to ensure they have been charged for the correct amount of piering completed. The builder is the only person who usually keeps a record of the amount of concrete piering that has been actually completed on site. The engineer or council does not usually record the depth of pier holes drilled on site.
  • ROCK EXCAVATION. This can be expensive and should be completed at an agreed rate of charges of machine fire, float charges, truck hire, tip fee's that might be required.
  • GST. This can be double charged. Owners should ensure any invoices clearly state whether GST is included or not. The builder can easily double charge for GST on the sub-contractors invoice and then again on his invoice to the owner if t is not clearly checked.
  • LABOUR RATES. These should be fair and reasonable. It is common for many builders to include excessively hire labour rates for any extra work that may be required. All labour rates would be clearly stated in the building contract so that the owner knows exactly what labour rates will be charged for.
  • EXLCUSIONS. Builders can make more money by excluding an item rather than completing a variation by not passing on the full amount of any excluded item in the contract to the owner when an item is deleted. If the owner is thinking of excluding an item during construction they should ask the builder to include what the credit amount would be in the contract prior to contract signing.
  • TENDER VALIDITY. All good builders will state in their tender how long their tender is valid for before they can revise it for industry rise and fall. This is usually between 30 and 90 days. Owners should not sign a contract until plans are passed by council and the builder is ready to start on-site immediately. Otherwise they run the risk of being charged for excessive price rises imposed by the builder. The owner can also ask for evidence from builder's suppliers proving they have actually incurred the price rise they are claiming for.
  • WRITTEN INCLUSIONS. Owners should insist that all of there requirements are included in the tender in writing. If it is not written in the tender the owner will have no legal right to claim for the inclusion. The tender should be attached to the contract and every page signed by both parties with a copy for each party supplied.
    The most important element will be communication & trust between both parties. The above are only a few of the ways builders can rip off their clients. Owners should check the builders experience, check references and evaluate the builder not only on price but also on professionalism
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Japanese house kitchen 
Progress Claims - When you need to pay the builder
There are numerous ways that progress claims can be made. They can be made every 2 weeks for up to 95% of the value of the work however this method gives no incentive for the builder to perform and complete the work ASAP. We prefer for claims to be made at set intervals when a construction stage is met. Each schedule of progress claims is customized to the job but a common break-up of claims is as follows;

DEPOSIT Max 5% of the contract price
  1. CONCRETE POUR
  2. DELIVERY OF FRAMES & TRUSSES
  3. DELIVERY OF BRICKWORK
  4. FASCIA & GUTTER INSTALLED
  5. ROOF TILES / IRON DELIVERED
  6. PLUMBING & ELECTRICAL ROUGH-IN COMPLETED
  7. PLASTERBOARD / INTERNAL LINING DLEIVERED
  8. LOCK-UP (HOUSE IS SECURE)
  9. FIXOUT DELIVERED - DOORS & ARCHITRAVES
  10. CERAMIC TILING COMPLETED
  11. PAINTING COMPLETED
  12. PRACTICAL COMPLETION

Final payment is required at "Practical Completion". This is the stage when either the owner moves into the house / addition or when the house is complete, except for maintenance items.

Owners have 13 weeks after they move in to supply a maintenance list of minor items to be completed or rectified. O'Mara does not usually enforce this 13 week period and we often return to inspection any owner concerns may months after the work has been completed.

Each project O'Mara completes is totally different. A schedule of progress claims is prepared and included in every building contract to suit the project. Adjustments can be made to suit both parties when required.

Site Checklist
We complete a site checklist for each new job as a quality control measure. The following is a common checklist, but each job has a customized checklist

 
EXISTING HOUSE DETAILS
Roof pitch
Roof span from overall frame width
Height of roof truss from apex to bottom of bottom chord
Plumb cut height of truss
Wall frame height 
Size of stud frames
Eave overhang
Barge overhang
 
 
degrees
mm
mm
mm
mm
mm
mm
mm
EXTENSION WALL FRAMES
Wall frames Height (extension)
Width of external wall frames
Width of brickwork cavity
All cedar windows & doors to extension
Robe doors
Strip flooring cut in by builder later
Particleboard flooring to wet areas
 
 
mm
mm
mm
yes
swinging / sliding
yes / no
yes / no
EXTENSION TRUSSES / RAFTERS
Wind category
Roofing 
Trusses Roof pitch garage
Trusses Roof pitch house
Eave overhang
Barge overhang
RAKED ceiling to living room
H2 treated pine frames, trusses, and ancillaries
Exposed rafters (verandah) - F17 kiln dried hardwood
Exposed Tas-beams
 
 
W33
Corrugated iron / Concrete roof tiles / Terracotta tiles
degrees
degrees
mm
mm
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
EXTENSION FLOOR JOISTS & FLOORING
Ground floor  
Garage beams
Any steel beams required
Steel T-bar with brickwork to front gable
 
 
posi-strut H2 floor joists / hyne-beam / LVL's
Wall plates only / verandah beams
yes / no
yes / no
ANCILLARIES
Verandah posts & beams 
Size of verandah posts
Size of verandah beams
Timber fascia
Ply bracing OK due to cladding
Roof battens - (Radiata / H2 / Merbau)
Valley boards
 
 
prime coated / Merbau
mm
mm
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
SITE ACCESS
 
DATE OF DELIVERY REQUIRED Approx:
 
SPLIT DELIVERY REQUIRED
 
OTHER SITE CONDITIONS TO CONSIDER;
ₕScaffolding required for construction
ₕJoist layout check for drainage & air-conditioning
ₕAny insulclad wall cladding
ₕAerial power that needs to be relocated
ₕNeed to check on-site overall dimensions
ₕCrane required? Possible driveway damage?
ₕAny excavation that can be booked or other materials ordered
ₕMark window sizes of existing windows if to be replaced
good / poor
 
weeks
 
yes / no
 

Check dimensions of existing plans add up and any changes that might be required
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Schedule of Rates
A schedule of rates is included in each contract. These rates are constantly updated for industry rise & fall. Following is a list of our latest schedule of rates (subject to review)
 
Piering
Piering will be required for any poor soil conditions, any foundations within the zone of influence of sewer mains, through any filled ground or for any poor or uneven soil conditions
Any concrete piering will be charged at the following rates;
 
Concrete piers 300mm diameter $50/m
Concrete piers 450mm diameter $70/m
Concrete piers 600mm diameter $90/m
Concrete piers 750mm diameter $110/m
Concrete piers 900mm diameter $150/m
$50/m
$70/m
$90/m
$110/m
$150/m

A minimum charge of $1,500.00 applies to any drilling rig concrete piering.
NO minimum charge applies if pier holes can be drilled by bobcat on site
Mass concrete piers dug with excavator and poured as part of standard concrete pour is charged at the rate of $200 per m3 of the extra concrete required
 
Electrical
POWER
Single or double power point 
External weatherproof power point 
15/20amp power point (eg Spa) 
 
LIGHTS
Light point (batten holder only) 
Low voltage gimble downlight 
Two-way light switch 
Dimmer switch 
External wall light (supply by owner) 
Fluro light 36 watt twin 
Ceiling fan with light (white) 
Exhaust fan (no ducting) 
Bathroom 4 heat IXL
Ducting for exhaust fan or IXL
Install light fitting supply by owner
 
OTHER ITEMS
TV point in RG6 for digital / Foxtel
Telephone point 
Smoke detector
Air-conditioner circuit 20amp 1 phase
Extra underground mains (meterbox, water tank, septic tank)
 
$100.00
$140.00
$250.00
 
 
$100.00
$120.00
$90.00
$70.00
$20.00
$90.00
$200.00
$90.00
$380.00
$350.00
$40 ea.
 
 
$100.00
$100.00
$150.00
$250.00
$48/m
 
Points are allowed to be installed pre-gyprock in roof or wall cavity with good access. Any poor access site, chasing of brickwork or conduits for face mounting on existing brickwork will incur additional charges
All fittings are as per electrician's sample
 
Brickwork
Extra brickwork (large areas) 
Bagging brickwork 
Brick headers 
Install vents 
Brick cleaning
Supply sand, cement, lime & ancillaries 
Concrete blocks 
Supply bricks or blocks 
$900/100 bricks laid
$15/m2
$25/m
$20 each
$65/1000 bricks
$150/1000 bricks
$4 each
at builder's discounted rates
 
Strip Flooring
Labour to lay 80mm wide strip flooring on existing floor joists
Extra labour to lay 133mm wide strip flooring over cost above Extra labour to supply & lay battens to concrete slab 
Floor sanding of new strip flooring
Minimum charge for floor sanding (areas under 27m2) 
Cypress pine strip flooring 80mm finish (Supply only) 
Blackbutt strip flooring 80mm finish (Supply only) 
Jarrah strip flooring 80mm finish (Supply only) 
Bluegum strip flooring 80mm finish (Supply only) 
Tassy Oak strip flooring 80mm finish (Supply only) 
Spotted gum strip flooring 133mm finish (Supply only) 
All select grade
Mixed hardwood 133mm finish UTILITY GRADE (Supply only)
$40/m2
$5/m2
$15/m2
$35/m2
$650.00
$40/m2
$80/m2
$90/m2
$85/m2
$95/m2
$85/m2
 
$65/m2
 
Shelving & Joinery
Extra vertical or horizontal shelving to owners design 
Melamine shelving up to 600mm wide 
Melamine shelf with hanging rail  
$48/m
$65/m
 
Ceramic Tiling
Porcelain tiling in lieu of ceramic 
Border tiling wall or floor 
Additional tiling
$10/m2
$20/m
 $50/m2
 
Garage Doors
The additional price for high-lites to sectional panelift garage doors is $450.00 plus GST each of pattern design to be selected from samples provided by builder
The additional price for automatic control, including power supply is $750.00 plus GST each.
 
Shower Screens
Upgrade shower screen to semi-frameless shower screen
Upgrade shower screen to fully-frameless shower screen 
 $200.00
$1,800.00
Machine Hire
DROTT BULLDOZER 
EXCAVATOR
BOBCAT
TRUCK HIRE
 $150/hour
$110/hour
$70/hour
$80/hour
Minimum charge of 4 hours applies
Float charges of $150 for drott & excavator, $90 for bobcat applies
 
Plant & Equipment
MINISKIP - 2m3
MINISKIP - 4m3
MINISKIP - 2m3 for AESBESTOS FIBRO 
  $150.00
 $300.00
$300.00

Labour Rates
The following labour rates apply to any variations that cannot be quoted as a fixed lump sum (e.g. replacement of white ant damaged timber). Please note that this is rare as most variations can easily be quoted as a lump sum
BUILDER ON SITE 
FOREMAN 
CONCRETOR 
CARPENTER 
CARPENTER APPRENTICE 
BRICKLAYER 
BRICKLAYERS LABOURER 
ELECTRICIAN 
PLUMBER 
PLASTERER 
CEMENT RENDERER 
CERAMIC TILER 
METALWORKER 
ROOF TILER 
LANDSCAPER 
KITCHEN MANUFACTURER ON SITE 
PAINTER 
LABOURER 
CLEANER 
$80/hour
$60/hour
$45/hour
$50/hour
$30/hour
$50/hour
$25/hour
$50/hour
$50/hour
$45/hour
$45/hour
$50/hour
$50/hour
$45/hour
$45/hour
$50/hour
$45/hour
$25/hour
$30/hour

 
Builders Percentage
A builder's percentage of 20% applies to all of the costs listed above GST
GST of 10% applies to all of the costs listed above

Council Approval Process
To obtain council approval there are 2 main steps;
1. Building Development approval (DA) - this can ONLY be done by council and NOT by private certifiers
2. Construction Certificate (CC) - this can be issued by council directly OR by a private certifier

1. DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL DOCUMENTATION
The following documentation is supplied by council when the project has been approved;
ₕ Building plans with council approved stamp
ₕ Building approval conditions
ₕ Statement of environmental effects
ₕ Waste Management Plan

Councils can be ANY of the following;
ₕ Hawkesbury City Council, Blue Mountains City Council, Hornsby City Council, Gosford City Council, Wyong City Council, Penrith City Council, Baulkham Hills City Council, etc
2. CONSTRUCTION CERTIFICATE DOCUMENTATION
The following documentation is required to obtain a construction certificate from a private certifier so that work can start on site;
ₕ Building plans with council approved stamp
ₕ Building approval conditions
ₕ Home Owners Warranty insurance policy
ₕ Specification
ₕ Surveying setout 
ₕ Evidence of payment of LONG SERVICE LEAVE LEVY from council
ₕ Engineer certification of the existing house to support the additional work ¡V only required for 2nd storey additions
ₕ Engineers design of all concrete and steel work (usually Pat Meares)
ₕ BASIX report of energy efficiency
ₕ Sewer or hydraulic stormwater design (McKinley Morgan)*
ₕ Acoustic reports (RSA acoustics)*
ₕ Bushfire report*
ₕ Landscape design*
ₕ Compliance certificates from Sydney Water, Integral Energy and AGL *
ₕ Evidence of payment of council Section 94 *
ₕ Evidence of payment of Sydney Water Section 73 contribution *
* means not always required, usually only for multi-unit developments
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Duplex in Windsor 

Insurance
Is everything covered ?

HOME WARRANTY INSURANCE
This insurance policy covers the owner against fault by the builder. If the builder may dies, gone broke, retires or will not rectify faulty work the insurance company will pay out the owner and pursue the builder. The builder must obtain the insurance policy. If the builder cannot obtain his own home owners¡¦ warranty insurance policy it is probable because he is unlicensed, has had previous claims against him or is unprofitable. The better the builder is the more insurance he is able to obtain and the lower his premiums will be. For example a small builder may be able to obtain only $100,000 per year worth of insurance.

If a builder asks you to obtain the home owners¡¦ warranty insurance policy instead of the builder beware. This puts all of the responsibilities on the owner and NOT the builder. The owner losses all rights to claim against the builder. We strongly recommend against this. The builder should always obtain the policy.

O'Mara has NEVER had a claim by any previous client against home owners' warranty insurance. We are rated by our insurer as a CLASS 1 builder. The highest rating available. We can obtain insurance usually within 48 hours.

CONTRACT WORKS INSURANCE
This covers all new materials delivered to site and all new work is fully insured against theft, vandalism, fire and any other damage.
O'Mara is fully covered for this insurance at all times.

WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE & SICKNESS / ACCIDENT INSURANCE
All people working on site need to have insurance to cover any accidents and injury on site
Companies need to have workers compensation insurance, sole traders only need to have sickness & accident insurance.
O'Mara is fully covered for this insurance at all times.

PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE
This covers all anyone who enters the site and hurts themselves on site. It does not matter if they were allowed to enter the site or if they were trespassing. They still need to be covered. Council¡¦s usually require cover for up to $10,000,000.
O'Mara is fully covered for this insurance at all times.

HOME CONTENTS INSURANCE For HOME ADDITIONS & RENOVATIONS
O'Mara cannot cover your house "contents" with our standard construction insurance. You will need to check with your insurance company that your house contents is covered while renovating against theft or damage (eg water damage), some companies will cover you, others will not. If your current insurance company will not cover your contents while renovating you may need to take out a separate policy to cover your contents during construction. O'Mara cannot cover your contents as they are not our property.

EXISTING HOUSE "STRUCTURE" INSURANCE
You should also check to see if your current house insurance will cover your existing residence "STRUCTURE" during construction. This is to cover your existing home against damage during construction not caused by the builder. (Eg water damage, fire, electrical shorts, etc). If the builder caused the damage the builder is always liable for any damage. However if the damage is caused by a fault in the existing home and has nothing to do with the new work being completed then insurance is required to cover the existing house structure. Many insurance companies will not your existing house while building work is being completed. We can take out a special insurance cover for your existing residence  "STRUCTURE" if your current insurance company will not. The cost of this policy can be obtained upon request

Owner Supplied Materials & Owner Nominated Sub-Contractors
O'Mara covers all elements of all work completed that is under the control of our company. However when the owner supplies materials directly or when they employ sub-contractors to complete the work they then take on all the insurance responsibilities that a builder usually covers. Owners will need to ensure that NO claims can be made against them and they are covered for ALL of the above insurances
 
2nd Storey Additions Construction Program
There are a few items to remember when planning a 2nd storey addition;
  • After signing the building contract all materials will be ordered and construction may not commence for 3-4 weeks until floor joists, flooring, frames, trusses, fascia, gutter, roof tiles & windows are delivered to site.
  • Depending on the project we can usually reach the waterproof stage within 10 working days. That is roof tiles laid and walls sarked
  • There is NO need for owners to vacate the premises during construction of 2nd storey additions.
  • We will install floor sheets over the staircase opening and tradesmen will enter the addition via ladders over the roof.
  • The staircase opening will only be created when the house is at lock-up stage and the house is secure.
  • We use a custom waterproof tarp that covers the entire new floor area. In extremely heavy rain minor leaks may occur. O'Mara will rectify any leaks at NO cost to you.
  • Upon request we can price the extra cost to vacuum out the existing ceiling of all existing vermin, dust & debris. This will be the last opportunity to access this area before the new floor is installed.
  • Upon request we can price the extra cost to install special downlight protectors around any existing ceiling downlights as this is one of the major causes of home fires
  • We can program our work so that any ground floor alterations to the existing house is completed after the first floor addition has been finished and owners have moved into the addition, even if there is a delay of a few weeks.
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Basalt stonework in perimeter plinth wall

 
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Stone entry steps in new Blue Mountains home

 
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Mt Wilson croquet Pavilion guest bedroom

 
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Croquet Pavilion kitchen 2013

 

SERVICES DIAGRAM
We suggest prior to construction commencement that a full services diagram be prepared showing all internal & external services on ONE plan, including ALL of the following;
1. Sewer lines and connection point to mains or tank
2. Stormwater lines and connection to street gutter, pit or water tanks
3. Water service lines and water drilling location or tank location
4. Garden water taps
5. Hot water unit external location
6. Gas service lines & bottle external location (if applicable)
7. Communications conduit
8. Internal power ¡V all lights, GPO's, switches, exhaust fans, smoke detectors, ceiling fans
9. Electrical mains, poles & meter box location
10. External garden lighting
11. TV points
12. Phone points
13. Air-conditioning external units location and power requirements
14. Air-conditioning ducting (if required)
15. AHD for finished slab or floor levels
16. Survey offset pegs
17. External colour scheme
18. Internal colour scheme and selections (including bathroom fittings selections for plumber)
19. Specification of contract inclusions
20. Council DA approval conditions
If O'Mara is the successful tenderer we would prepare this document at NO extra charge, laminate the plan and leave permanently on site for quality control, safety and to ensure construction will comply with the workers executed plan prepared by the surveyor upon completion of the project.

COST SAVING IDEA'S
Many building projects do not reach the construction stage as many building projects are designed "over-budget". Upon request O'Mara can supply a range of cost saving idea's to allow owners to build within their budget, including ;
ₕ Alternate building materials
ₕ Different methods of construction
ₕ Changes to the existing design
ₕ A total different design concept
The best way to reach your budget figure is to inform us of the amount of cost saving is required so that we can inform you of what changes need to be made to reach the required budget figure.

 
OPTIONAL EXTRA'S
The following is a list of common optional extras that are regularly requested by our clients that you may wish to include
ₕ Alarm system
ₕ Floor safe poured in concrete slab and concealed by carpet
ₕ Security screens to windows or swinging doors
ₕ Perimeter "Termimesh" or "Granitguard" to the external perimeter cavity
ₕ Reticulation system under or around the house slab
ₕ Treated pine frames & trusses
ₕ Rear or side yard stencil concrete paving to owner requirements
ₕ Internal strip flooring
ₕ Brick headers or feature columns
ₕ Tinted glass or Double glazing
ₕ Metal gutter guard to gutters & valleys
ₕ Whirlybirds with eave vents or gable vents to reduce ceiling heat
ₕ Ceiling access ladder for storage in roof space
ₕ Velux remote controlled openable roof windows with rain sensor closing
ₕ Hardwood staircase with stainless steel cable balustrade
ₕ Solar hot water unit
ₕ Basin to garage
ₕ Decorative cornice, ceiling or wall boxings
ₕ Noise reduction or high impact plasterboard
ₕ Ceiling lining boards in MDF, pine, Tasmanian Oak or Cedar
ₕ Dado wall lining boards or mini-orb with Dado railing
ₕ Low voltage down lights
ₕ External sensor or flood lights
ₕ Additional double, triple or quad  power points
ₕ Additional Telephone points
ₕ Network interconnection points
ₕ Garden lights or Wall lights
ₕ Decorative switch cover plates
ₕ Ceiling fans or Dimmers
ₕ Smart house wiring
ₕ Intercom
ₕ Stereo system wiring or Ducted vacuum system
ₕ Stain finish Pacific Maple skirting & architrave
ₕ Stain finish Tasmanian Oak skirting & architrave
ₕ Larger skirting & architrave eg 100mm (4¡¨) & 150mm (6¡¨) skirting
ₕ Additional shelving & dividers to owners design
ₕ Upgrade ceramic tiles to Terra-Cotta, Porcelain, Marble Or Granite Tiles
ₕ Increase wall tiling height to floor to ceiling
ₕ Internal wall acoustic insulation
ₕ Laundry joinery
ₕ Slow combustion fireplace or gas heater to owner selection

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Mt Wilson new kitchen

 
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Mt Wilson kitchen 2013

 
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Lounge room in Mt Wilson home 2013

 
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Mt Wilson project in heavy snow 2012