Frequently Asked Questions about home renovations

Renovation Frequently Asked Questions

Researching a home renovation project?  Then you probably have a long list of questions you are trying to find the answers for.

We've put together a list of some of the more common questions (and answers) that homeowners ask us when they are embarking on their renovation journey.  We hope you find the advice helpful.

If you have a question that you can't find the answer to, please contact us or feel free to reach out to us on facebook to find out more.

Council Permissions

Often you need to provide the Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) to your bank to confirm the renovation work has been completed and also to your home insurance company when you apply for your home insurance. It will also generally be required to complete a house sale.

If you don’t apply for a CCC within 2 years from when your building consent was issued, the council then has the right to refuse to issue one. If the decision is made to refuse the CCC, then homeowners may reapply to have the decision reconsidered.

If more than 5 years has passed since your building consent was issued, then the council will have to visit your home to assess the durability of the materials used. Visit here for the B2 Durability application form.

Generally speaking, any building work that affects the structure, water-tightness or changes the use of a room/building will need council permission by way of a building consent and/or resource consent.

Some examples are;

  • removing load-bearing walls
  • re-piling a building
  • demolition of a structure (asbestos survey may also be required)
  • additions or alterations
  • changing cladding
  • plumbing and drainage (excl. repair & maintenance work on existing)
  • retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres
  • decks and platforms more than 1.5 metres above the ground (over 1 metre must have a hand rail compliant with the building code)
  • fences or walls higher than 2 metres
  • swimming pools and their associated fencing

Under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004, some building work which is deemed to be ‘low-risk’ is permitted to be done without a building consent.  However it is important to note that this work still needs to be completed in accordance with the Building Code which may mean you need to engage a professionally qualified tradesperson.

From August 2020 the above ‘low risk’ exceptions will also include single storey detached buildings of up to 30 square metres, such as sleep-outs, sheds, carports.  We advise caution though as a structure of this size will still need to be built to code and may need specialist advise and assistance from a builder and/or engineer.

The Auckland Unitary Plan is a set of complex planning rules introduced to help the Auckland Council manage the city’s future growth. It’s focus is to provide more housing and infrastructure while balancing the protection of many heritage and natural environments around the city.

In a nutshell, it determines what can be built and where.

To avoid costly mistakes and spending money on home renovation designs that can never be built, we advise that you engage with a renovation expert to interpret the zoning rules for your property so that any potential issues can be identified early.

Restricted Building Work (also known as RBW) is work that is critical to the structure or weather-tightness of your home. Under the Building Act 2004 this work must be designed and carried out (or at least supervised) by an appropriate Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).

Each LBP that completes Restricted Building Work on your home must, by law, provide either a Certificate of Design Work (for the design of RBW) or a Record of Building Work (for the actual construction of the RBW).

A Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) is a certificate issued by the Auckland Council that essentially confirms that they are satisfied that the building work has been completed in accordance with the building consent they issued for the project.

It is issued after the final inspection of the building work is done, all the paperwork/documents required by the council from the various trades (eg; electrical certificates, waterproofing certificates, LBP Record of Works) have been submitted and any other conditions of the building consent have been satisfied.

Homeowners are required under the Building Act 2004 to apply for a CCC once the work permitted under a building consent has been completed. If you work with us at MyHome Renovations, we save you the headache and take care of all of this on your behalf.

General

MyHome Renovations is ideal for busy Auckland homeowners who want to make changes to their home and are looking for assistance with the entire renovation process. They appreciate the value and convenience of working with one company from the start to finish.

Renovation Costs

Knowing what your renovation budget is helps us to understand whether your expectations are realistic. We do not treat your budget like a target, but rather we use it as a guide to align your ‘wants’ with the investment required.

Starting your renovation project without having a clear budget in mind can lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction as a few things could happen;

  • you can spend way more than you intended
  • you run out of money before the project is finished
  • you end up with a compromised outcome as you have had to drop features or finishes that you really liked in order to get the project completed

Sometimes when we are pulling together a fixed price for a renovation, a particular item has not been selected by the homeowner or can’t be priced accurately until the project gets underway (eg: excavation/rock breaking). In this instance we make a ‘best guess’ and include an allowance for the item in the quote.

Once the project is underway and the actual cost of the item becomes known, we regularly keep you up-to-date, using our online project management portal, so you always know what is happening and whether there is an extra charge or a credit owing to you.

At MyHome Renovations, we complete renovation projects under a fixed price. This means we take the time and make a real effort to get to know the details of your project so we can accurately price up the required labour, materials and subcontractors.

So once we have agreed on the fixed price and the building contract is signed, the price you pay will only change if;

  • you request a change or add to the scope of the project,
  • the council asks for additional work to be done,
  • something that could not be seen or discovered in the planning/quoting stage is revealed (eg; rotten framing, asbestos, rock in the ground),
  • you select an item that differs to the PC sum allowance (see other FAQ explanation) included in the price.

This is a different approach to many other builders, who will usually only take on renovation work on a charge-up/cost-plus basis.

You can read more about the differences between the two in our article Fixed Price v Charge-Up: Choosing Your Renovation Building Contract

Renovations will always take longer than you expect and cost more than you expect. After all you are dealing with an existing building (and one that has usually seen a few days which is why it needs renovating) and it is impossible for your builder to see what might be hidden in the walls or under the ground.

So including a contingency in your renovation budget is not just a sensible approach, but in our opinion is key to a successful renovation experience.

If you are completing your renovation project under a fixed price, then our advice is to include a 10-15% contingency. Under a charge-up/cost-plus arrangement it is better to allow for overruns of approx. 25% of the builder’s estimate.

The Renovation Process

We agree that it’s important that you know what’s going on during your renovation. So when you work with MyHome Renovations you will be able to keep track of everything through our online project management tool.

Whether it’s from the comfort of your home, your desk at the office or from beside the resort pool, 24/7 you’ll be able to;

  • see what is scheduled to happen on site every day of every week of every month. This allows you to follow progress in real time and get a great understanding of what tasks will be happening and when.
  • view and share progress photos with family and friends
  • ask any questions that you might have
  • request and approve any extra work or changes to the project scope
  • know the financial status of your project – what has been invoiced, the financial impact of any work that has been added or changed, what has been paid already and the remaining balance.

In addition to Contract Works insurance (also known as Builders Risk insurance which should be taken out by either the homeowner or the builder to cover the renovation project), you should also ensure the builder you engage to do the building work also holds current policies for;

  • Public Liability insurance – provides protection from damage or loss to third party property or injury to a third party.
  • Professional Indemnity/Errors & Omissions Indemnity – provides protection if the company or an employee allegedly causes a financial loss as a result of some advice given or action taken (or not given or taken).
  • Statutory Liability insurance – provides cover over any legal costs and/or fines for breaches of any statutory law such as the Building Act, Fair Trading Act, Resource Management Act etc…
  • Employers Liability insurance (if they employ staff) – provides cover for any liability over an injury or illness to an employee that is not covered by ACC.
  • Commercial Vehicle insurance – insures the builder’s vehicles, trailers etc…
  • Tools & Equipment insurance – provides protection over tools, equipment, other assets (eg; phones, scaffolding) and stock.

The details of these insurance policies should be provided to you in a Disclosure Statement which, under Section 362D of the Building Act, is required to be provided to homeowners prior to signing a building contract. The minimum insurance requirements should also be listed within the building contract.

When you renovate, your home becomes more vulnerable. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, sometimes it is open to the elements, other times the structure might be temporarily compromised.

Your usual house insurance policy won’t cover you for any loss or damage caused by renovations, particularly major projects.

So it is important to notify your home insurer and ensure the correct insurance policy (Contract Works Insurance also known as Builders Risk Insurance) is taken out. This additional policy should work alongside your normal house insurance to cover any damage caused by or while your renovation work is being done.

Not all Contract Works Insurance policies are made equal though, so it is important you do your research to ensure you secure the best possible policy available to you. You are likely to be asked a bunch of quite technical questions about the site conditions, work being done and construction methods being used. This is so the insurance company can assess your project and of course charge you a premium appropriate to the risk they are taking on.

If you work with MyHome Renovations however, the Contract Work Insurance application and other paperwork is all taken care of on your behalf. It’s part of our wrap-around service to ensure your renovation experience is as enjoyable as possible.

The time to complete a renovation, typically relates to the complexity and the size of the project you have in mind.  It will also vary considerably from one homeowner to another – some people tend to make decisions quickly, while others prefer to take their time and consider all their options.

Smaller projects like a kitchen or renovation bathroom may only take a matter of a few weeks, while larger projects such as ground-level extensions, internal alterations or second storey additions could be as long as 4, 6 even 8 months in duration.

Whichever it is, one thing it for sure – a renovation project will always take longer than you think.  That’s just the nature of renovations and building in general.

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