This is a well trodden path – and worth the walk through……again.

It is vital in the process of building a new home or extending and renovating an existing home that effective working drawings and specifications – often termed contract documents – are presented to builders and contractors to ensure you get exactly what you want, according to Archicentre Australia.

The national architects advisory service says that regardless of the scope of any building works, working drawings and specifications should spell out in precise detail exactly what you are ‘buying’ from the contractor.

As well as providing peace of mind for the customer, Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev says this reduces risk for the contractor in having to guess what is required and guards against potential disputes when the customer does not get what they were expecting – so it’s a two way street.

“For any substantial proposed works, working drawings and specifications should cover such items as the standard of materials and the workmanship required, as well as finer construction details such as set-out dimensions, set-backs from adjoining properties, window and door locations, and structural details and mechanical installations if relevant. In cases where the scope appears to be small – say a single trade – it is still essential that some form of document – even annotated sketches – provides guidance and clarity.”

Peter Georgiev says engaging an architect should be the first step in any residential building project and this ensures that working drawings serve these purposes. This means finding an architect who will take the time to facilitate even the smallest project in a thorough manner – something that many building designers and drafts people are not capable of doing.

There are a number of benefits from having good working drawings and specifications. Peter Georgiev says these include:

Certainty – They create more certainty about scope in the building contract. With vague working drawings, a contractor may claim, for example, that the standard of materials you expected are not shown on the drawings, and what you are now asking for are ‘variations’ which will cost more.

Worse still, the contractor may be halfway through building the wrong way and charge for undoing the work already begun, and then for the cost of constructing to the more precise requirements.

Shopping around – Thorough drawings and specifications enable you to ‘shop around’. Detailed drawings will help you obtain accurate price comparisons and quality comparisons from a number of builders. It is not uncommon for the highest tenderer, who may have been the one you were originally going to select, to be 50% higher than the lowest tenderer in the case of home renovations, or you may obtain better quality for a similar price.

Many clients find that their architect has managed to save them several times the architectural fee on this stage alone. If you have committed yourself to a design-and-construct company, you do not have the option of ‘shopping around’ for a better price or quality, because you are locked into using the building company that provided you with your ‘free’ design and ‘their’ contract.

Assistance for owner builders – Thorough drawings can help owner builders. If you intend to select your own tradespeople and oversee their work in order to save the cost of the builder’s mark-up, then working drawings and specifications will help you direct the tradespeople’s work more confidently. Similarly if you are building or finishing off the work yourself, these detailed drawings will help you construct in line with good building practice, providing a pattern to build.

Specifications: These set out the materials to be used and the standard of workmanship required of each trade. Clearly, not all matters of detail can be included on the working drawings. The headings in a typical specification set out the stages of building and the tasks of each tradesperson such as what is required of the excavator, bricklayer, carpenter and so on and the materials that they are to use.

Peter Georgiev says it makes a lot of sense to make the right start when undertaking such a major investment and utilising the services of an architect to prepare the correct working drawings enables this to occur, which also results in less stress, a reduction in unnecessary costs and importantly ending up with the right result.

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This media release has been written and distributed by:

Archicentre Australia

Peter Georgiev, Director

Level 1, 9 Strathalbyn Street,

Kew East, VICTORIA, 3102

Phone: 1300 13 45 13 | 03 9859 9950