Preliminary Agreement – What is involved in the preliminary stages of the building process and why is it important?

September 24, 2020

The Preliminary Agreement involves the essential stages between approaching the builder and signing the contract. During this time we collate a range of vital information about your site, design, estimate and more, so that we, the builder and you, the client, have a precise understanding of your project moving onto the contract and construction.

  1. Site Survey

Whether you are just starting to think about renovating or extending you property, or you have been thinking about it for some time and are ready to get the ball rolling, the first place we as your builder will start is with a site survey. The involves sending a Site surveyor out to your site to assess:

  • Site dimensions and area of your land;
  • The location and limitations of any easements that may burden or benefit your land;
  • Topography of your land and adjoining land;
  • Trees on the land and adjoining land;
  • Drainage on and adjacent to the land;
  • The position of underground services on and adjacent to the land;
  • The location of adjoining buildings, their roof heights, window/door openings and heights relative to the land.

Any structure or improvement designed to be constructed on the land will need to take these constraints into account.

The surveyor may also complete a building compliance survey and plan of subdivision.

  1. Schematic design

In this step, the designer will talk with you, the client, to determine the project requirements and goals. The designer usually starts with rough study drawings that illustrate the basic concepts of the design. This most often includes spatial relationships as well as basic scale and forms you might be looking to achieve.  Also, initial research of jurisdictional regulations is completed at this time.  Initial cost estimations are also investigated based on total project size and complicity. Schematic Design often produces rough drawings of a site plan, floor plans, elevations and often illustrative sketches or computer renderings.

  1. Design development/concept design

Design development collects the results from the schematic design phase and takes them one step further.  This phase involves finalising the design and specifying such items as materials, window and door locations and general structural details.

Design development usually yields a more detailed site plan as well as floor plans, elevations and section drawings with full dimensions.

During this stage we will also discover whether your project requires planning permits, and if so put forth the applications to do so.

  1. Working drawings

Once the designer and you, the client, are comfortable with the drawings produced from the design development phase, they can move on to the working drawings. The working drawings phase produces drawings with much more detail which are used for the construction of your project. These drawings typically include specifications for construction details and materials. It is important to include as much information as possible on these drawings to ensure a cohesive process down the line.

Working drawings often include a complete set of architectural drawings (site plan, floor plans, sections, details, etc.) that are combined with structural drawings (and possibly mechanical and electrical drawings) that have enough detail for the contractor to build your project.

  1. Engineering

The engineer will put together plans on exactly how your project will be built structurally to ensure it meets all building requirements and safety regulations

The engineering plans will include:

− Inspection of existing conditions prior to commencement of design works.

− Slab and footing design for new extension

− Roof framing as required

− First floor framing to new extension

− Roof and wall bracing check

− Associated connections

− Certificate of Compliance

– Design

Soil tests/site classification are also undertaken which give the engineer the information used to base the design on your particular site.

  1. Energy rating

Houses are given a star rating based on the energy efficiency of their design. The rating considers many factors, including the building envelope (the roof, walls, floor and windows), the orientation and type of glazing. In Victoria we have a 6 star standard on all renovations and extensions which represent less than 50% of the original volume of the building, then only the new section will need to be rated 6 stars; more than 50% and the entire building will require a 6 star energy rating. This can often be more difficult on a renovation as the existing and new portions both need to be taken into consideration.

  1. Estimator/Quantity Surveyor

During this stage we will gather all the material, labour and subcontractor quotes in order to provide you with an accurate assessment of costs including take offs to help deliver the most detailed and accurate quote as we can.