Extensions and Renovations over $10 000: A Guide


Extensions and Renovations Costing over $10 000

Undertaking extensions or renovations over $10 000 in cost involves careful planning and consideration to ensure a successful outcome. From choosing a registered building practitioner to obtaining necessary permits and selecting the right builder for the job, there are critical steps to follow to avoid potential pitfalls. In this guide we will cover essential aspects such as the legal requirements, selecting a reputable builder, controlling costs, and assembling a proficient building team. For expert guidance and assistance with your renovation, reach out to us today as you navigate through this exciting journey.

Explore our Step-By-Step Renovation and Extension Guide HERE.

Are you asking how much will my renovation and extension cost? See our Cost Guide HERE

Navigating Legal Essentials

Registered Building Practitioners

When planning an extension or renovation over $10 000, it is crucial to verify that your builder is a registered building practitioner. This ensures they have the necessary qualifications and adhere to industry standards. In Victoria, for instance, any builder undertaking projects over this amount must be registered with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). It’s essential to check their registration status.  This can be done by requesting their registration number and verifying it on the VBA website. Additionally, ensure they provide a written major domestic building contract and a current certificate of domestic building insurance for projects exceeding $16,000. This documentation is vital for legal protection and to ensure the builder meets required standards. Taking these steps will help safeguard your investment and ensure your renovation or extension is carried out professionally.

Major Domestic Building Contracts

For any renovation or extension project costing more than $10,000, a major domestic building contract is required by law. This contract serves as a formal agreement between you and your builder, outlining the scope of work, timelines, costs, etc. It is essential to review this document meticulously before signing. We recommend consulting a building lawyer to examine the contract, even though this means forfeiting the five-day cooling-off period. The contract should clearly specify who is responsible for obtaining necessary permits and include detailed plans and specifications. Additionally, any pre-construction agreements, such as those for design or permit acquisition, should be treated as part of the main building contract. Ensuring all aspects are covered in the major domestic building contract will help prevent misunderstandings and legal issues down the line. This will provide a solid foundation for your renovation or extension project.

Building Insurance Requirements

Before starting any renovation or extension costing over $10,000, it’s imperative to understand the building insurance requirements. Your builder is legally obliged to provide a current certificate of domestic building insurance for projects exceeding $16,000. This insurance protects you in case the builder fails to complete the work or rectify defects due to insolvency, death, or disappearance. Always obtain this certificate before making any deposit or commencing work. Additionally, it’s wise to review your home and contents insurance to ensure it covers the renovation period. You may need to adjust your policy or add extra coverage to protect against potential damages during construction. Verifying these insurance details upfront will safeguard your investment and provide peace of mind, ensuring that your renovation or extension project proceeds smoothly and without unforeseen financial risks.

Preparing for Construction

Reviewing Your Building Contract

Reviewing your building contract thoroughly is a critical step before embarking on any renovation or extension project over $10,000. This contract is a legally binding document that outlines the scope of work, payment schedule, timelines, and other essential details. It’s advisable to have a building lawyer review the contract to ensure your interests are protected, even though this means you will waive the five-day cooling-off period. Pay close attention to clauses regarding project milestones, payment terms, and any potential penalties for delays. Ensure that all agreed-upon specifications, materials, and finishes are clearly listed. Additionally, confirm who is responsible for obtaining necessary permits. By meticulously reviewing your building contract, you can avoid misunderstandings and legal disputes, setting a solid foundation for a successful renovation or extension project. Taking these precautions will help ensure that your project runs smoothly and within budget.

Ensuring Proper Insurance Coverage

Before commencing any renovation or extension project, ensuring proper insurance coverage is essential to protect your investment. First, verify that your builder provides a current certificate of domestic building insurance for projects over $16,000. This insurance covers you if the builder fails to complete the work or address defects due to insolvency, death, or disappearance. Additionally, review your existing home and contents insurance policy to make sure it includes coverage during the renovation period. You may need to adjust your policy or add extra coverage to protect against potential damages and liabilities that could arise during construction. Discuss these requirements with your insurance provider and obtain written confirmation of your coverage. By taking these steps, you can mitigate risks and ensure that your project proceeds with financial security . This will provide peace of mind throughout the construction process.

The Role of Building Permits

Building permits play a crucial role in ensuring that your renovation or extension project complies with local building codes and regulations. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to determine whether you need planning and building permits for your project. These permits safeguard the structural integrity and safety of your home and ensure that all work meets the required standards. Your builder may assist in obtaining these permits, but it should be clearly stated in your contract who is responsible for this task. Additionally, you must ensure that a Certificate of Final Inspection or Occupancy Permit is obtained once the work is complete. This final step certifies that your project adheres to all relevant regulations. By securing the necessary permits, you can avoid potential legal issues and ensure that your renovation or extension adds value and safety to your home.

The Selection Process

Choosing the Right Builder

Choosing the right builder is perhaps the most critical decision you’ll make for your renovation or extension. Start by ensuring the builder is a registered building practitioner, which guarantees they have the necessary qualifications and adhere to industry standards. You can verify their registration status through the relevant authority, such as the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). Next, ask for recommendations from family, friends, or your design team, and review their previous work. Check references and ask about their experiences, focusing on communication, timeliness, and quality of work. Obtain at least three written quotes to compare costs and understand what each builder offers. Good communication is key, so choose someone you feel comfortable discussing project details with. Verify their insurance coverage, including domestic building insurance and public liability insurance. By taking these steps, you can select a reliable builder who will help ensure your project is completed successfully and to a high standard.

Verifying Builder Qualifications

Verifying the qualifications of your builder is essential to ensure your renovation or extension is carried out professionally and to high standards. Start by confirming that the builder is a registered building practitioner. This registration, which can be checked on the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) website, ensures they possess the necessary skills and adhere to industry regulations. Additionally, confirm their experience in handling projects similar to yours by asking for references and viewing their previous work. It’s also crucial to check if the builder has required certifications, including domestic building insurance for projects over $16,000 and public liability insurance. Ensure they have a strong business history by looking at how long they have operated under the same name and checking for any involvement in legal or disciplinary actions through Consumer Affairs Victoria, the VBA, or VCAT. Thorough verification of these qualifications will help you select a competent and reliable builder for your project.

Assessing Past Work and References

Assessing a builder’s past work and checking their references are critical steps in the selection process for your renovation or extension. Start by asking the builder to provide a portfolio of their previous projects. Visiting completed works, if possible, gives you a firsthand look at the quality and craftsmanship. Additionally, speak directly with past clients to gather insights into their experiences. Key questions to ask include whether the project was completed on time, how well the builder communicated throughout the process, and whether any changes or issues were handled professionally. Also, inquire about the reliability and performance of subcontractors used by the builder. Understanding these aspects helps you gauge the builder’s reliability, professionalism, and ability to deliver high-quality results. By thoroughly assessing past work and references, you can make a more informed decision and choose a builder who is likely to meet your expectations for your renovation or extension project.

Managing Your Renovation Budget

Understanding Costs and Contracts

Understanding the costs and contracts involved in your renovation or extension is vital for managing your budget effectively. Begin by obtaining detailed written quotes from at least three builders, ensuring you compare them based on the same scope of work. Be clear about what is included in each quote to avoid unexpected expenses later. Review the major domestic building contract carefully, focusing on payment schedules, project milestones, and any clauses related to variations or potential delays. Ensure that all costs are clearly itemised, including materials, labor, and any provisional sums or prime cost items that could affect your budget. Also, make sure any changes or additions to the project are agreed upon in writing and reflected in the contract. By understanding the financial aspects and binding terms before signing, you can avoid budget overruns and ensure your renovation or extension stays within financial projections.

Controlling Fixture and Fitting Expenses

Controlling the expenses related to fixtures and fittings is crucial for keeping your renovation or extension project within budget. Begin by specifying all fixtures and fittings in your contract, including models, makes, and exact quantities. This clarity helps avoid surprises and ensures you get what you planned for. Avoid using provisional sums or prime cost items where prices are uncertain, as these can lead to significant cost overruns. Instead, select all fixtures and fittings upfront and confirm their availability to prevent delays. If you make any changes during the project, ensure these variations are documented in writing and agreed upon with your builder. Being proactive and detailed about fixtures and fittings will help you maintain financial control over your renovation or extension, ensuring that the project stays aligned with your budget and expectations.

Handling Variations and Stage Payments

Effectively managing variations and stage payments is essential for keeping your renovation or extension on budget. Variations, or changes to the original contract, should be minimised and, when necessary, documented in writing. Both parties must agree on the scope and cost of any changes before proceeding. This practice helps avoid disputes and unexpected expenses. Regarding stage payments, adhere strictly to the payment schedule outlined in your contract. Payments should only be made upon satisfactory completion of each project stage, such as base, frame, lock-up, and fixing stages. Ensure that each stage meets the agreed-upon standards before releasing funds. This approach provides leverage to ensure quality work and helps maintain financial discipline throughout the project. By carefully managing variations and stage payments, you can control costs and ensure a smooth progression of your renovation or extension project.

Assembling Your Renovation Team

The Importance of a Building Lawyer

The importance of a building lawyer in your renovation or extension project cannot be overstated. A building lawyer provides expert legal advice that helps you navigate complex contracts and regulatory requirements. They can review your building contract to ensure it protects your interests, identifying any problematic clauses and advising on necessary amendments. Engaging a building lawyer before signing the contract can save you from potential legal disputes and financial pitfalls. Additionally, a building lawyer can guide you through obtaining necessary permits and ensure compliance with local laws and building codes. Their expertise is invaluable in resolving any disputes that may arise during the project.  They provide a layer of protection and peace of mind. By including a building lawyer in your renovation team, you can confidently proceed, knowing that your interests are safeguarded.

Selecting a Building Surveyor

Selecting a building surveyor is a crucial step in ensuring your renovation or extension project meets all regulatory standards. A building surveyor’s role is to independently verify that the construction work complies with building codes and regulations. They cannot be appointed by the builder to avoid any conflicts of interest. You have the option to choose a municipal (council) building surveyor or a private one. If you opt for a private building surveyor, you can authorise another person, such as your building designer or architect, to appoint them on your behalf, but this must be done in writing. Ensure that the surveyor is qualified, experienced, and has a good reputation. Checking their past work and references can provide insights into their reliability and competence. By carefully selecting a building surveyor, you add an essential layer of oversight, helping to ensure that your renovation or extension project is completed to high standards and in compliance with all legal requirements.

Engaging a Building Consultant

Engaging a building consultant can greatly enhance the success of your renovation or extension project. A building consultant provides expert advice on design suitability, construction quality, and project management. They can assist in translating your vision into practical plans and specifications that meet your needs and budget. During construction, a building consultant can conduct regular inspections.  They can ensure that the work adheres to the agreed standards and regulations. They can also provide technical insights to your building lawyer, helping to address any legal concerns with a deeper understanding of the construction process. When selecting a building consultant, check their qualifications and experience, particularly in projects similar to yours. Ensure they have appropriate insurance coverage for the type of work they will be overseeing. By including a building consultant in your renovation team, you gain valuable expertise and oversight that can help prevent costly mistakes and improve the overall quality of your project.


Take the first step towards your dream home today. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discover how we can make your renovation or extension project a stunning reality.