ABOUT Frequently Asked Questions Here are some common questions that our new clients often ask us If there’s anything you’d like to know that’s not answered below, don’t hesitate to call us on 1800 436 874 or send us a message. Why should I build with Gentrify? Gentrify are among Geelong and the Surf Coast's finest builders. We’re a progressive, versatile company – and we’re devoted to providing you with high quality, innovative, value adding property solutions. We cater for a wide range of clients, from potential home owners to the most astute and strategic property investors. At Gentrify, our philosophy is simple – we listen to and partner with our clients to deliver projects that exceed all expectations. We pride ourselves on our values, our ethics and our results and view ourselves as partners with our clients, our community and our environment. When can I call to discuss my home or project with Gentrify? We are available on 1800 436 874 during normal business hours (Monday – Friday 8.00 am to 5.00 pm). What kind of service is provided in a Preliminary Agreement? Preliminaries (or “Prelims”) provide a comprehensive set of documents required by Gentrify in order to assess the work required and produce a cost analysis, fixed price quotation and building contract. Depending on which stage you’re up to in the pre-construction process, the preliminary works undertaken by Gentrify may include: Feature and level survey Boundary re-establishment survey Locating existing infrastructure within the site Feasibility study Town planning advice Soil or geotechnical report Concept design Architectural working drawings, including key internal elevations and detailing Civil and structural engineering design, computations, certification and council approval Detailed specifications, including all quantities, fixtures, fittings selections and colour schedule Thermal assessment and design, including (minimum) 6 star energy rating compliance and certification Other specialist consultant report Detailed cost analysis and fixed price quote If you’re in the very early stage of purchasing land or have yet to engage a designer or architect, you may require Gentrify to perform all of the tasks listed above. If you already have some of these documents in order, Gentrify may be required to review the documents and produce a quote. What documents are required for a quote? Ideally, a detailed set of architectural working drawings, engineering design, soil test report and project specification will be a basic minimum requirement. If a project specification is not provided to us, we will allow for one of our standard specification ranges in our cost analysis, which we will provide with our quote. If we are provided with accurate and detailed documentation, the quote produced will be very precise and for a typical project, a ~4 week turn around can be expected. On the other hand, if the documentation is lacking, the quoting process can be done in a couple of days. This is often the case if the client is seeking an estimate during the design process. A basic concept drawing can be used provided that the client understands accuracy will be poor. Why don’t Gentrify price quotes based on square metre rates? We get asked this a lot – “How much per square metre?” The reality for a custom-built project is that there is no set square metre rate. That’s because no two projects are ever the same; no site conditions are the same and no clients’ requirements are the same. Square metre rates can be useful at the outset when formulating a starting budget and selecting the dwelling’s size and rates from similar past projects can be used as a guide. For example, if you have a budget of $X, then the approximate size of the home will be the budget divided by the square metre rate applied. Example: Budget: $700,000 Square metre rate applied: $20,000 per square Approximate dwelling size: $700,000 ÷ $20,000 = 35 squares This rate needs to be verified by the builder by doing a proper cost analysis and quote. More often than not, the rate applied at the beginning of the design process is different to the ultimate cost, depending on the design and selections choices made along the way and the fact that the square metre rate applied is an estimate only. A proper quote requires the builder’s Estimator to fully understand the plans, engineering, scope of work, site condition and timeline. Like building lego pieces, each component is priced accordingly before assembled to produce the final figure. What's the difference between a Bill of Quantities (BoQ) provided by a Quantity Surveyor (QS) and a Builder’s quote? Sometimes clients like to engage the services of a Quantity Survey (QS) who will produce a Bill of Quantities (BoQ) for their projects. The main purpose of a BoQ is to itemise the project at a very granular level so that all tenderers are preparing their price and submission based on the same information. It is not uncommon to find that the quotes from builders differ to the BoQ report, which can be due to: Builders’ capacity and workload in their pipeline Quality of the trades that each builder employs General market conditions at the time of tender Builders’ different assessments of the project risk Each builder has a different assessment to the project risk and applies a different methodology to run the project. Here at Gentrify, we have a dedicated Sales Estimator who undertakes a thorough and detailed cost analysis for each project and sources multiple quotes from our various suppliers to ensure that our clients receive our sharpest price first time. We also have a hand-picked team of employees and specialised sub-contractor who have been carefully selected based on their attitude, integrity, skillset, quality of work and their alignment to our values. Our advanced systems, processes and construction management software are an integral part of our business and allow our clients to be actively involved in the entire process from conception right through to completion. Working with us means you will not just have a successful end product; you’ll also have an exceptional client experience and our proactive communication style will give you peace of mind and confidence throughout the project. We ensure that all projects we deliver are tested through our rigorous quality assurance program before handover. We’ve developed systems and procedures to allow a consistently high level of quality and workmanship. Is my site affected by any special planning scheme zone or overlay requirements? Before you purchase a block of land to build a new home or before deciding to extend your existing home, it’s important to first understand your local Council’s planning scheme and determine whether there are any special zoning or planning overlay conditions that affect your site. The purpose of each Council’s planning scheme is to provide a clear and consistent framework within which decisions about the use and development of land can be made and for some projects, you may be required to submit a planning application with your local Council before you can get started. How straightforward (or complicated) this process will be will depend on where your property is located, the attributes of the land and the scope of your project. First, you’ll need to find out the zone for your property. What is a zone? In Victoria, all land is divided into areas called ‘zones’ by local councils using maps within their planning schemes. Each zone has special conditions that determine what the land can and can’t be used for and whether a planning permit is required to construct a building or carry out works. Each zone specifies land use requirements into three sections: Land uses that do not require a planning permit. Land uses that require a planning permit. Prohibited uses for the land. Next, you’ll need to find out whether a planning overlay applies to your property. What is a planning overlay? Whilst the primary method of organising land in Victoria is to divide areas into ‘zones’, the secondary method is for local councils to assign ‘overlays’ using maps within their planning schemes. These overlays designate special controls over certain (not all) parcels of land to ensure that the proposed works comply with these special requirements. There are a many different planning overlays in Victoria, each with a specific purpose and some parcels of land may have more than one overlay affecting them. If an overlay applies, the land will have special attribute such as a heritage building, significant vegetation or flood risk and the overlay will describe the special requirements that apply. For example, a Heritage Overlay applies to heritage places of natural or cultural significance and describes the requirements that apply and will indicate if a planning permit is required for the construction of a building or other works associated with the land. The Heritage Overlay may also specify information that must be submitted with an application for a planning permit and council will consider, before it grants the permit, whether the proposed works will lessen the significance of the heritage place. How do I find the zoning and any planning overlays that might affecting my property? You can find out the zone for your property and any associated overlays and schedules by obtaining a free VicPlan Planning Report. To find more information relating to Victorian Planning Schemes, zoning and planning overlays click here. Does my land have any restrictive covenants? Before you purchase land or engage a builder, its important to check whether there are any restrictive covenants that may affect what you can or can’t build on the site. What is a restrictive covenant? A restrictive covenant is a private treaty or written agreement between land owners that limits the way land can be used and developed. A registered restrictive covenant is a restrictive covenant recorded on the certificate of title of the burdened land and is designed to either benefit or protect other land. There are no legislative rules about the kinds of restrictions that can be included in a restrictive covenant and Councils aren’t responsible for preparing, writing or enforcing covenants. What types of restrictive covenants are there? There are three main types of restrictive covenants: Building covenants imposed by developers to ensure the owners of lots complete building works within a certain timeframe and following specific building requirements (e.g. building height, building materials, colours, and setbacks). Covenants designed to protect neighbourhood character or guide the long-term development of an area. Covenants that impose rules of communal living on lot owners. Are restrictive covenants a bad thing? Whilst the term “restrictive” sounds quite negative, restrictive covenants are not necessarily a bad thing, however whether the restrictive covenant is good or bad comes down to the specific restrictions and land owners’ requirements. For example, some developers impose restrictions on their developments so that the homes built in the area meet a certain (usually high) standard in terms of quality, sustainability and architecture, which can ultimately lead to a more attractive and sustainable neighbourhood. These restrictions can often result in project/volume builders not being able to meet the developers’ requirements and hence the estate becomes populated with unique, high quality and sustainable custom designed homes, which can create are more appealing and desirable neighbourhood. How do I find out if my property is affected by a restrictive covenant? If your land has a registered restrictive covenant, it will be recorded on the certificate of title of the land. Land titles are held by Land Victoria and can be searched for a fee. You can visit the Land Information Centre to search a title and obtain other information: Land Information Centre 2 Lonsdale St Melbourne 3000, Victoria ☎ Phone: (03) 9194 0601 Alternatively, or if you can’t access the Land Information Centre in person, you can purchase a title online. To learn more about restrictive covenants, click here. What is a feature and level survey? Contour and level surveys are a basic prerequisite for building and land development. The purpose of feature and level surveys is to indicate features on and adjacent to your property and accurately assess the slope, terrain and contours of your site, locate underground services and identify any potential restrictions and obstacles. There are a number of site features and levels required by architects and planners. A topographic survey is a vital component of a successful development application for any development of your land and is also required so that your new home can be designed correctly to suit the site and work with the slope of the land. Feature and level surveys generally include: Levels and contours related to Australian Height Datum (AHD) Tie into cadastral reference marks and plot the approximate boundary on plan Field survey of site detail and features Field location of visible services Spot levels and contours over the site Detail of significant trees on site over 0.2m trunk diameter Note of retaining walls and changes of grade onto adjoining sites Location of existing and adjoining houses/structures and floor and apex levels Pickup of road and kerb details at site to crown Place site level datum What is soil testing and why do I need it? Before the civil engineering design can be undertaken for your project, a geotechnical engineer will need to test the site you plan to build on. The report will specify the physical properties of the soil on your building site and will also include the chemical composition of the soil, the stability of natural slopes, possible fault distributions and other necessary details of the construction site. The geotechnical engineer will assign a site classification in accordance with AS 2870-2011 - Residential Slabs and Footings based on the type of soil. The civil engineering design can then be completed to ensure the correct foundations are constructed to support for your new home. The most preferable soil type is sandy soil, which is least reactive and less likely to move over time. Clay on the other hand is less desirable because its more reactive and less stable for building foundations. Therefore, building on soil with high clay concentrations will cost more as extra measures need to be engineered into the design and installed to ensure the structural integrity and safety of the building’s structure. CSIRO BTF18 Foundation Maintenance and Footing Performance: A Homeowner’s guide As most buildings suffering movement problems are founded on clay soils, there’s an emphasis on classification of soils according to the amount of swell and shrinkage they experience with variation of water content. The table below is Table 2.1 from AS 2870, the Residential Slab and Footing Code*. *CSIRO BTF18 Foundation Maintenance and Footing Performance: A Homeowner’s guide What is ‘Dial Before You Dig’ search? Projects involving excavation will require a Dial Before You Dig assessment to find out what assets and services are underground in and around your property prior to excavation. This assessment is crucial as it helps to prevent any damage or disruption to Australia’s vast infrastructure networks, which provide essential services we use every day. Common searches include: Telecommunication location Gas line location Sewer main and water supply lines Storm water main Underground electricity supply Dial Before you Dig is a free service for builders, trades and consumers. You can lodge a free enquiry yourself at any time. Gentrify can advise if there are problems connecting your home to the mains, such as: Unavailability connection to the sewer main or sewer main, Manhole located on your block Unavailability of storm water main for legal point of discharge What are Prime Cost (PC) and Provisional Sums (PS)? Unlike variations, Prime Cost (PC) and Provisional Sums (PS) are adjustments to a contract. Sometimes you may not be in a position to choose everything you want included in your home when the building contract is signed, so a Prime Cost (PC) or Provisional Sum (PS) amount may be required to be included in your building contract. The important thing to remember here is to ensure that a reasonable amount is included in the contract for these items to minimise the potential of variations that may blow your budget and you should plan for these contingencies by having a ‘buffer’ amount in your financial budget to cover any unexpected PC or PS over-runs. What is a Prime Cost? A Prime Cost (PC) is an amount of money allowed in your building contract for the supply only (not the labour cost to install) of specified items such as concrete benchtops, tapware, tiles, cabinetry etc. An agreed estimated amount is included at contract signing, which provides you with some time to select these specified products at a later stage. For example, if you select a more expensive stone benchtop than allowed by the PC item, say a $2,000 benchtop compared with a $1,500 PC amount, a variation will be required to cover the additional $500, plus the builder’s margin on the $500. Conversely, if you select a less expensive stone benchtop than allowed by the PC item, say a $1,000 benchtop compared with a $1,500 PC amount, a variation will be required to credit you the $500 difference, however the builder’s margin on the $500 difference will not be credited. In summary, if the cost of the Prime Cost item varies from what has been estimated at contract signing, so will the final contract sum. What is a Provisional Sum? A Provisional Sum (is) is an amount of money included in your building contract to cover the supply and labour to install specified items, the extent of which cannot be specifically detailed when entering the contract. Typically, builders will include a PS for sitework costs, or the supply and installation of the kitchen (cabinetry, benchtops etc.) you’re not in a position to choose one at the time the contract is signed. Your builder is legally required to take reasonable steps to ensure an accurate site works cost estimate, however unforeseen events can sometimes occur causing the provisional sum to be exceeded, which will then increase the total contract sum accordingly. For example, your building site may seem sandy and clean with minimal siteworks required prior to commencement. However, there may be large limestone rocks or tree trunks concealed below the surface, which only become apparent once siteworks commence, thus causing a cost over-run. Provisional Sums are treated in a similar way to Prime Costs, whereby you pay the difference between the actual amount and the originally estimated amount plus builder’s margin on the difference, unless the actual amount is less than the originally estimated amount, in which case you are credited the cost difference, however the builder’s margin on the cost difference will not be credited. In summary, if the cost of the Provisional Sum item varies from what has been estimated at contract signing, so will the final contract sum. How can PC and PS affect the contract price? If you want a watertight contract, it’s better to have as little PC and PS as possible, making the builder carry the risk of supplying the items, however if you want to share some of that risk, having an agreed PC or PS can work in your favour. A good example is a site cut where it’s difficult to accurately calculate the cost and quality of excess spoil that will need to be excavated and carted off site due to dump location and traffic conditions of the day. The below example shows an agreed PS allowance of $10,000 incl. GST and the total cost to cut the site in three different scenarios: Work is completed less than the allowance at $8,000 incl. GST. Work is done as per allowance at $10,000 incl. GST. Work is done for more than the allowance at $12,000 incl. GST. What is an extension of time (EoT)? An extension of time (EOT) is a delay that could not be reasonably foreseen at the time of contract signing, which relieves the builder from liability of damages such as liquidated damages from the original date of contract completion for the period of the claim. There are a number of causes for extensions of time, including but not limited to: Inclement weather conditions, e.g. heavy rain, thunderstorms etc, which cause project delays. Your builder will usually allow a certain number of days for inclement weather in your building contract, so only delays over and above what have been estimated can be claimed as an extension of time. A variation to the project’s scope, specification or design after contract signing that causes project delays, e.g. you decide to select a different tile from what was been allowed for in the contract and the lead time for the new tile causes the project to be delayed. Latent Conditions, which are unknown conditions at the time of contract signing that affect the time for delivery of the contracted works. E.g. your builder encounters rock, which causes project delays due to the extra time required to excavate and remove it from site, plus any additional civil works required as a result. Delays caused you (the client), e.g. late delivery of materials supplied by you or late progress payments whereby your builder can legally suspend the building works and claim damages in accordance with the building contract. What are Variations? Variations are changes that are made to the project scope after the building contract has been signed, which generally lead to increased project costs. For example, let’s say that halfway through construction, you decide that you’d like to change floor tiles from the ones specified in your building contract to a different tile. This will lead to a contract variation whereby the difference in price (including any labour variances, builder’s margin and GST) between the original tile and the new tile will be added to the building contract price as a variation. Furthermore, most builders (including Gentrify) will add an administration fee for processing and handling the variation, as time and resources will be required to effect the change. If the variation request is made too late and after the original tiles have been purchased, this could cause further issues as the tile supplier may refuse to re-stock the original tiles and if they do agree, they may charge a re-stocking fee, which will add further cost to the variation. It’s easy to see how variations can cause so much frustration and negative emotions and put unnecessary strain on your relationship with your builder, so it’s always best to do whatever you can to avoid variations for everyone’s sake. Like clients, most builders prefer to avoid variations as they can create headaches and tension in the client-builder relationship, so if they’re diligent they’ll normally do their best to make sure there’s no misunderstanding on your part. What can cause a variation? Variations are usually caused by the following: Changes made to the scope of work by the client after the building contract has been signed. These are typically variations in: design; quantities; models, styles and quality of products; the order in which things are constructed. Unforeseen issues that were not allowed for in the building contract, such as: encountering rock when performing a site cut on a sloping site, which needs to be jack-hammered with heavy machinery, removed and disposed of accordingly; encountering asbestos during the demolition phase of an existing dwelling, which needs to be removed and disposed of accordingly; encountering termite, rot or mould damage during an extension or renovation project; variances to allowances made in the building contract for ‘Provisional Sum’ or ‘Prime Cost’ items; inclement weather, which impedes the carriage of machinery and/or materials onto the building site or the building works being carried out in a safe manner. issues encountered with the construction documentation. Items required that may have been excluded from the building contract. How can I avoid variations? The best way to avoid variations is to be well prepared, thorough and don’t rush. Take the time up front to properly plan and specify your project and don’t assume anything. Make sure that your builder provides you with a very detailed project specification detailing all selections and inclusions in your building contract and never sign a contract until you’re certain it’s absolutely specific about everything you want. This means making sure your contract includes items such as: Brand and model numbers for items such as appliances, tapware, sanitary fixtures, heating and cooling, floor coverings, tiles, benchtops, cabinetry etc. Quantities for all inclusions, such as power points, light fittings, etc. Specific details for materials such as wall and roof cladding, bricks, windows etc. Number of coats of paint to be used, sheen levels, texturing / application preferences etc. Specific colours, shades and products to be used. Pay attention to any ‘exclusions’ in your building contract and either ask for these items to be included (which may increase the contract price) or make allowances for potential variations if these items may end up being required. Alternatively, if you’re arranging these items yourself (not your builder), e.g. fencing, landscaping, letterboxes, swimming pools etc., make sure that you have budgeted for this. Will post contract variations delay work on my property and cost more? Variations requested after the contract has been signed will usually delay progress and will cost more than adjustments made before the plans and specifications are finalised. It is better to avoid post-contract changes wherever possible. What if I want to vary something to my home after signing the contract? What is the procedure? Variations must be submitted in writing to your Construction Supervisor and managed in accordance with your Building Contract and Gentrify's Contract Variation Process. Can I have a key to my property so I can assess progress when I like? Unfortunately not. We cannot hand over our Builder’s master key at any time, however Gentrify are happy to arrange for the house to be opened for you by prior arrangement and during normal business hours. Please contact Gentrify with your requirements and we will do our best to accommodate. When can I visit the construction site to view my property during the construction phase and or/before handover? For health and safety purposes and the requirements of Gentrify’s insurance policy; clients are only permitted to enter the construction site under the guidance of an authorised Gentrify employee. Should you wish to view construction progress; we ask that you call Gentrify’s head office to book an appointment and we will endeavor to accommodate. Can I discuss or instruct Gentrify’s sub-contractors? It is better that you do not discuss the work with Gentrify’s sub-contractors to prevent any confusion. Any instructions or changes provided to sub-contractors must only be issued by an authorised Gentrify representative. Who arranges connection of electricity, gas and telephone? Generally, it is the owner’s responsibility to arrange these items. Please keep in touch with Gentrify to find out the correct time to arrange these connections. When can Gentrify give me an approximate competition date for my property? The completion of your new property is dependent upon Council requirements, weather, availability of materials, variations to the contract, etc. However, we can provide an approximate date of completion once we reach the fixing stage. When should I arrange my house and contents insurance? You should arrange applicable cover for your house and contents from the day you take occupancy of your new home. Can I keep any leftover materials? What is the procedure? Sometimes you may be able to keep excess materials (e.g. bricks) but you must not do so unless you have written permission from Gentrify.