It’s the great Australian dream – building a house from the ground up, but the process of construction can be a bit of a mystery, especially for first-home owners.
Knowledge is power, so understanding the construction phase – what will happen when and how – is one of the best ways to minimise anxiety and start to enjoy the process.
Most Australian builders follow a sequential building process recommended by the Housing Industry Association, which begins with a “base” stage, when foundations are mapped out and ends with “settlement and handover” when the owners get the keys.
Peter Rielly, Hotondo Homes’ building and operations manager, explains the house-building process.
Stage one: The base
The base stage focuses on laying out foundations, Rielly says. During this time, the builder will conduct all earthworks, such as levelling.
“They will also install all underground plumbing, electrical and stormwater systems prior to pouring the concrete slab,” he says.
Stage two: The frame
At frame stage, the “skeleton” of the home emerges, Rielly says. “During the framing stage, the builder will begin to construct external and internal walls and roof trusses.”
Stage three: The lock-up
The majority of the work in the lock-up stage is about external areas.
“Your builder will begin to install windows, fascia, gutters and roofing, meaning external walls will slowly shine through and you’ll start to see what the home will look like,” he says.
Brickwork, cladding and electrical and plumbing “roughing” is also be installed during this stage. Roughing is the installation of services in wall cavities, before the walls are lined with plaster.
Find out: How much it costs to build a house.
Stage four: The fixes
After being outdoors during lock-up, builders move back inside for the fix stage.
“You can expect to see plaster, internal doors and finishing trims, like skirtings, installed during this stage,” Rielly says.
The kitchen will start to take shape in the fix stage too, with benchtops being fitted. Bathrooms and laundries also start forming, with vanities installed.
The final build stage
The final stage is about adding the “cherries on top”, Rielly says.
“Flooring will be installed throughout the home, along with paintwork. Any shelving, such as storage and walk-in-robes, will be fitted in this stage. Lighting, air-conditioning, door furniture and electrical and plumbing fit-offs will add the finishing touch. Appliances will only be installed after settlement, in an attempt to avoid any theft,” he says.
Post-build: The inspection
Once the house is complete, the builder will organise a date for a Practical Completion Inspection (PCI).
“This inspection will give you the opportunity to walk through the home with the builder to see all works and note any defects you may find, once mutually agreed upon,” Rielly says.
“Both you and your builder will be required to sign off on the official PCI document at the end of this inspection. In the event you find any defects, your builder will be required to review and rectify these items and arrange a second inspection. If you are happy, you will proceed to the next step.”
Post-build: Settlement and handover
“This is the last step before you can move into your home,” Rielly says.
Owners are required to make their final payment during settlement and then, it’s “the touching moment you get handed your house key.”