Are you thinking about making renovations to your home?
You have a general idea of what you’re looking for, but there’s something you’re still worried about:
What do all those fancy renovation terms mean?
You worry that your contractors may overcharge you for the job. And you don’t want to give the wrong impression that you don’t know anything. This might make it harder for contractors to work with you.
It’s understandable. You want to be in the loop and know exactly where your money’s going.
To increase your understanding, you should learn common renovation terms that will help you at every stage of the process.
Here are 5 terms to get you started.
The General Contractor and Tradespeople
The general contractor refers to the person who undertakes the home-improvement process. You’ll be communicating with them throughout the renovation.
In Australia, there are three tiers of construction contractors:
- Tier 1 contractors work for the more experienced companies. These are the companies that earn the highest revenues and work on the biggest projects.
- Tier 2 contractors work for mid-tier construction companies. These generally focus on large commercial and mid-level infrastructure projects. They still earn high-value contracts.
- Tier 3 contractors are part of companies which work on smaller projects on a residential scale.
So you’ll be looking for a Tier 3 contractor to work on your home.
They run the daily renovating operations with a team of specialised workers.
These are tradespeople or tradies.
Tradespeople are subcontractors in the renovation.
- And more
Each carry out their specific tasks and report to the general contractor.
The Building Inspector
This is someone who inspects commercial and residential buildings. Building inspectors exist to ensure builders and owners are following regulations. They need to build according to legal standards and follow the initial building plan.
It’s the inspector’s job to ensure that your home is safe.
During an inspection, they look out for:
- Hazards like gas leaks, mould, damage due to moisture, asbestos and more.
- Electrical issues to avoid house fires.
- Problems with your home structure, ensuring there are no structural weaknesses.
- Wear and tear that could lead to hazards down the road.
A building inspector will assist with planning and organising. They’ll gather data, estimate costs and provide a timeframe.
They will also help you obtain a building permit from their employer, the local building department. The permit ensures that the inspector reviewed your blueprints and inspected your renovation. In construction lingo, we call this ‘pulling a permit’.
Having your home inspected can cost anywhere between $150 and $950, depending on the size of the house. You can read this Service Seeking article for a guide to inspection costs.
Blueprints are what we call the design plans of a building. These include all the technical details like measurements, materials and the building process.
Designers draw these plans up at the beginning of the renovation process.
Existing blueprints are also used when contractors need to know what they’re working on.
To find your blueprints, you can:
- Ask the real estate agent who helped you with purchasing your house.
- Look for maps archived by your city.
- Ask the building inspector in your area if they have a copy, since they issue the permits.
- Find the builder of your house, as they keep all the blueprints to the houses they’ve built.
- Look for previous owners of the house who might have them.
- Ask your neighbours if you live in a neighbourhood with similar houses.
The Mechanical and Electrical Systems
Mechanical systems refer to any services within your house that use machines. These services make your home safe, efficient and comfortable.
Electrical systems are the services in your house that use electricity. They include telecommunications, control systems, power supply and much more.
These systems tend to overlap. Most systems share both mechanical and electrical components, which is why they go hand-in-hand (M&E).
M&E systems in your home can include:
- Fire safety
- Energy supply like solar, electricity and gas
- House controls
- Plumbing, water and drainage
- Alarm systems
- Laundry facilities
- Refrigeration and kitchen facilities
- IT and computer systems
- Energy circulation
Another important system is one called HVAC. The acronym stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning explains it well:
“This system provides heating and cooling to residential and commercial buildings…These systems use fresh air from outdoors to provide high indoor air quality.”
HVAC is popular in construction because it improves the quality of air by removing:
- Gases and carbon dioxide
All these M&E systems power your home. This is why it’s important to understand what they consist of and how they work.
The Design-Build System
In construction, design-build is a project delivery system. It simplifies the whole project by giving you one contract with one team that consists of your general contractor and your designer.
It’s as simple as the name suggests: ‘design’ and ‘build’.
This way, the contractor and designer work together. You don’t have to deal with different people giving you contradicting information. The team is responsible for making any changes together. They agree on scheduling and project budgets.
The team goes through a punch list which details everything that needs completion throughout your renovation. The punch list keeps the project organised.
If any changes are necessary, it’s recorded in writing. This is a change order.
By using a design-build system, you can also save yourself time and money.
Find the Right Professionals
Now that you know these important terms, you can be confident in approaching professionals.
You know what and who you need to get started. It’s time to form your team!
The question now is: Where do you find the right people to turn your house into your dream home?
There’s only one straightforward answer to find all the professionals you need in one easy spot:
Service Seeking Australia.
Get quotes today from renovation professionals in your area. Build the team that will build your home.