Finishing your renovation
Here are the things you need to check before signing off the job.
As work nears completion – there are some final steps you need to take before signing off the project.
This last stage requires you to make sure everything is finished to an acceptable level and final inspections are ticked off.
While you might be champing at the bit for your reno to finally end, that might not be the case for your tradies. Most builders will be lining up their next job and may start transferring staff and equipment before your one is completely finished.
If your architect or designer is managing the project, the same problem can arise – they may start putting more effort into their upcoming projects and less towards overseeing and tidying up any loose ends at yours.
One way to ensure everyone’s on the same page about the finish date, and to keep the project rolling, is to have a contract that requires you to pay only when milestones are reached.
Your reno may be finished, but there are a few things to consider:
- If your contract allows for a retention or withholding sum to be held back for a certain period, you may be able to live in the house during this period, and if any problems or defects come to light the builder is obliged to fix them before the final payment is made. Note: Under some guarantees you cannot hold back any money or your guarantee is invalidated.
- When leaving the site, your builder should ensure it's clean and tidy, and ready for use.
A contractor should also give you:
- Copies of any guarantees or warranties for materials or services used in the building work, including information about making claims and whether the warranty is transferable. Also, you must be told if it must be signed and returned to the issuer.
- Information about what is needed to maintain the newly completed building work and how to keep it in good order for years to come.
As the owner, you’re responsible for advising your council when work is completed and are applying for a code compliance certificate (CCC), though this will often be delegated to your builder. This certificate is a formal document stating that all work complies with both the Building Code and the issued consent. A council inspector will make a final inspection and issue you with a CCC once they’re satisfied everything complies with your building consent.
However, if your reno doesn’t make the grade, you’ll be issued with a Notice to Fix. This lists what must be corrected before a certificate can be granted. You are legally required to make sure everything on the notice is rectified and advise the council once it’s done. You may have to go back to your contract with your builder and see who’s responsible for the work that needs fixing.
The council will then reinspect – if it passes, you’ll get your CCC.
Without a CCC you might face issues when selling your home. While you might be happy with the work, banks will hesitate to lend to potential buyers without it. You also have the peace of mind from knowing an independent inspector has given your work the thumbs up.
Making your own inspection
When the builder is ready to hand over the keys, it’s a good idea to walk-through – initially by yourself, and then with the builder – looking for any defects that jump out at you. If you’ve been keeping a close eye on progress, you’ll be familiar with the work and know where to look.
Check absolutely everything. Can the doors all open and close? Are the power points and lights all go? Are there any leaks in the new plumbing?
In your final inspection, use your phone to carefully note and photograph surfaces of counters, floors, walls, fixtures and fittings. Record any damage at the same time.
This can help resolve disputes later on about whether the chipped benchtop was caused by the builder or by someone else later.
TIP: Shine a light down along walls to pick up any major flaws in the finish that need to be fixed up. Pay close attention to the fiddly-to-paint areas, such as window- and door frames.
If you’ve installed a new heat pump or ventilation system, use the walk-through as an opportunity to learn about the features it has. The instruction booklets and warranties should be made available to you for each of the appliances.