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Types of builders in Australia

  1. Residential home builders

    The job of a residential home builder is, unsurprisingly, to help build homes for people to live in. There are a number of different roles that a residential home builder may take on, however, with some specialised in certain tasks and others choosing to take on many aspects of the building process. Some may work in small teams on relatively small projects through to completion, whilst others may be sub-contractors hired by other construction professionals to take on a minor aspect of the project. To give you an idea of what a residential home builder may be involved in, we’ve listed a few fundamental project steps below:

    1. Laying the foundations: This includes completing earthworks such as levelling and the installation of underground electrical, plumbing and stormwater systems. Usually, it will also involve laying down a concrete foundation.
    2. Erecting the frame: Next, the builder will help to construct the building’s external and internal walls, as well as the roof.
    3. Locking up the construction: Once the skeleton has been built, construction workers will lock the building into place by installing windows, gutters, roofing, brickwork, cladding and areas for electrical wires and plumbing to sit.
    4. Plastering, doors, and skirting: The home will start to come together during the next stage when walls are plastered, and doors and skirting boards are installed. The kitchen may also start to take shape with the installation of fixed benchtops.
    5. Final stage: The final stage involves adding any features that are yet to be completed such as lighting fixtures, shelving, walk-in-wardrobes, storage space, electrical wiring and plumbing, and air-conditioning facilities.
    6. Inspection: Finally, the builder will organise a date for something known as a Practical Completion Inspection (PCI). If any defects are found, the builder will need to address them and arrange for a second inspection at a later date. If no defects are found, a PCI document must be signed that confirms the building is safe for habitation.

    Most established residential builders build up their expertise through apprenticeships, construction degrees and training programmes.
  2. Commercial builders

    Commercial builders carry out many of the same tasks as residential builders. However, their work tends to be conducted at a larger scale and alongside a larger number of co-workers. This is because commercial buildings tend to be bigger and can involve heavier infrastructural work. Due to the complex work involved with a larger infrastructure, many commercial builders specialise in certain areas of construction such as:

    • Steel erection and framing.
    • Constructing footings, underpinning, and slab systems.
    • Installing external glazing and claddings.
    • Installing services.
    • Conducting preliminary work on planned sites and setting up construction sites.
    • Demolition work.
    • Damp proofing and waterproofing properties.
    • Protection works.
    • Excavations.
    • Structural and non-structural fit-outs.
    • Erection of signs.
    • Buildings extensions.

    Although many commercial builders like to specialise in certain areas, it is important that they are competent in a few generalised tasks including:

    • Arranging inspections and understanding how building certification works.
    • Applying for building permits for proposed projects.
    • Understanding, developing and managing progress documents.
    • Establishing and managing large budgets.
    • Interpreting and following plans, drawings and industry specifications.
    • Preparing cost estimates.
    • Managing the health and safety of oneself and one’s colleagues.
    • Selecting, managing and liaising with sub-contractors and suppliers.
    • Preparing and managing contracts.

    There are a number of different educational routes open to those hoping to make their way in the commercial construction field. Commercial builders usually need to demonstrate that they have at least three years of practical experience in coordinating building projects and carrying out commercial building work, usually obtained through apprenticeships and other educational training programmes. Some builders work their way up by taking bachelor’s degrees in construction management.

What is the average price of building a home in Australia?

What can impact the cost of building a home or commercial space?

  1. The slope of the block

    Building a property on sloped land is easier said than done. This is because it involves complex processes to ensure that the ground within the building stays firm and steady. There are two primary ways to build a house on a sloped lot including:

    • Cut and fill method: This involves levelling out the ground by adding and removing soil to create a level surface. Depending on the soil conditions and quality of the land, cutting and filling can make construction much more expensive than building land on a flat site.
    • Stilts: This is an alternative to the cut and fill method that is generally more cost-effective. It involves using a crane to lift the building onto steel columns.
  2. Insurance required

    This will depend on a variety of factors such as your location, the terrain on which your property is built, and whether there is a significant risk of events such as fire or flooding. The higher the risk, the more you will have to pay out in insurance.
  3. The size of the land

    Bigger lots tend to cost more money, particularly if they are in desirable areas. Before settling for a particular lot, you will need to budget thoroughly to ensure that you do not run out of money before the property is built. It is better to underspend on your lot and have money left over than to overspend on a large lot of land and be rendered unable to complete your property.
  4. Quality and type of materials

    The price of your property can be significantly affected by the calibre of its materials. For example, if you are hoping to build an ecologically friendly home using the latest energy-saving, carbon-neutral materials, then you will probably end up spending much more than if you were to opt for the cheapest materials on the market. Of course, opting for cheap materials comes with its own set of serious risks and could end up costing you a significant amount of money in repairs further down the line. Your project manager or architect will be able to advise you about the best kinds of materials for your budget and needs.
  5. Building designs and blueprints

    Remember to factor in the cost of blueprints and design plans when budgeting. If you are doing much of the design yourself and are knowledgeable in the construction industry, then you will probably end up paying less than someone with little to no knowledge about building houses. The cost of your blueprints may also go up if they involve particularly tricky engineering problems.

FAQ about builders in Australia

  1. Do builders offer drafting and design services?

    This depends largely on the remit of the business you have opted for. Some are only able to follow designs that have already been drawn up, whilst others are happy to work with their clients from the design stage all the way through to the finishing stage. It is also worth noting that some builders will only agree to build properties that they have designed themselves. In this way, it is important that you talk through your plans with potential builders well before the drafting stage commences.
  2. What licenses do builders in Australia require?

    The type of licence that a builder needs in Australia will differ from state to state and will only be valid for a set period of time. For example, in New South Wales, builders need to obtain one of the following:

    • Contractor licence: Issued for one year or three years and allows workers to conduct work that is described on the licence.
    • Qualified supervisor certificate: Issued for three years and does not allow workers to contract for jobs.
    • Endorsed contractor licence: Available to contractors who are experienced enough to become qualified supervisors.

    Other states offer different kinds of licences that are broadly based on experience levels and the types of tasks the worker intends to take on. It is always worth investigating your state’s individual rules surrounding licences and asking to see the licence of any builder before allowing them to work on your home.
  3. What type of insurance should a builder in Australia carry?

    It is mandatory for Australian builders to possess public liability insurance to protect against personal injury and property damage. Likewise, it is mandatory for builders working on developments costing more than $20,000 in New South Wales to hold Home Warranty Insurance to protect the homeowner if the builder goes bankrupt, retires or dies. Although not mandatory, it is beneficial for builders to take out contract works insurance to protect against property damage and financial loss incurred throughout the building process.
  4. Can builders also provide renovation and design services?

    In short, yes, although it is of course up to the individual builder or their firm as to whether they wish to take on such work. Some are only qualified in exteriors and new builds so may not have the expertise to carry out all of the work you require. In this case, it is worth shopping around for builders with different kinds of skills.
  5. How long does it take to build a house?

    This will depend largely on the scale of your project. On average, however, it is not unreasonable to expect the concept and planning stage to take around six months, and for the construction phase to take between six months and a year. Display homes may be a little speedier, particularly if similar properties have been built before.
  6. What can a first-time home buyer expect when building a home?

    As described above, home builders will guide you through a number of steps during the planning and construction process. This will involve the consultation stage when you work out whether you are eligible for a home builder grant and establish an initial budget, coming up with a suitable house design to suit your needs and desires, preparation of the land, the building of the house’s exterior, and the completion of all interiors to your tastes.
  7. How long does it take to build a commercial building?

    This very much depends on how urgently the building is needed and the size and scale of the project. Often, commercial buildings are worked on by more labourers than residential buildings and subject to stricter deadlines. As such, small commercial properties could be built in as little as four months. Large-scale projects could take up to as long as a couple of years, however.

How can I find the best builder near me?

  1. Compare quotes on Localsearch

    When working out potential house prices, Localsearch is an invaluable resource that will help you factor in the cost of builders, architects, engineers and other construction professionals. Whether you want to build a tiny house or a multi-storied palace, Localsearch allows you to request quotes to compare home builders in an easy-to-understand way.
  2. Read reviews

    Localsearch results include real testimonials from people just like you. This allows you to find the best and most reliable workers to suit your needs.
  3. Check for display homes, past designs and image galleries

    Coming up with house plans is much easier if you have inspiring images to work from. With Localsearch’s image galleries or a businesses website, you can view a wide array of different building styles constructed and designed by real-life building and construction professionals..