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Before the Build

Renovating and designing always sound so fabulous and exciting. However as many would know, once you start it can often feel like one of the most frustrating and exhausting things you’ve done. Not to mention the fear of being ripped off by the ‘token’ tradesman.

We have secretly picked the brain of a qualified Master Builder and Plumber, and want to give you some hot tips to make sure you are in full control of (financially and mentally) and ready to create your latest home masterpiece.

Here are some tips from the tradesmen to help you approach your renovation in the most sanity saving way possible!


Knocking down walls – If you knock down a wall, you are altering the structure of the building. Make sure you are using a registered builder to do this, as they will help you get a building permit. Not having a permit won’t affect your renovation, but if you sell you are likely to be asked for evidence of your building works being compliant.


When else do you need a registered builder? For any renovation works over the value of $5,000 (materials and labour combined – this is easily reached!) the person signing off on the work must be a registered builder. For any works over the value of $12,000 that builder must also provide warranty insurance to the customer. It is pretty hard to get anything done for under $5K so make sure that builder is registered!


Can the one tradesman / builder renovate a whole kitchen or bathroom? themselves? No. In a kitchen renovation you would need cabinet maker (cupboards), plumber (altering pipework, installing appliances), a stonemason (benchtops), potentially a tiler or splash back specialist. In a bathroom you would need at least a plumber, tiler, and shower screen installer. So don’t let someone tell you they can do it all! However you can contract the one person to coordinate the whole job. This would save you the hassle of chasing them all up yourself.


Do renovations ALWAYS go over budget? If you have done your research and drawn up a proper budget plan, there is no reason why you should be in store for any nasty dollar sign surprises. Communicate with your builder, and get him to help you list ALL foreseeable costs in the form of a specification sheet. There may be some items which appear unexpectedly, but before you begin make sure your builder writes you up a contract. The process should be transparent and clear from beginning to end.


How to find the right builder – here’s the tricky part! Communication is key. If you don’t feel like you can communicate with your builder, they are not the right one. Always have your decisions on paper, as things can get forgotten in the hectic world of renovating. If you have doubts on their qualifications you can contact the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) at


If you’ve had any experiences with building or renovating that you’d like to share with us, please leave us a comment.


Daniel Martin, Director of New Space Builders

Robert Matthews, Director of Remedy Plumbing Victoria Pty Ltd visit:

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