We all had a bad experience or know a person who had a bad experience during his home construction or home improvement project. There has been a cost overrun, quality issues, time delays and ineffective communication with the contractor or suppliers, and a lot more that you had to manage during the project and must always have wondered there was an easier way to do it with guaranteed quality, timely completion and within budget without you sending time managing the project.
Building a new home is a little like a marriage. You're starry-eyed, romantic, and full of passion and hope when you start. Then, as the weeks wear on and difficulties arise, you suddenly begin to worry about whether you've done the right thing.
That's why you have to go into it just like a marriage, with a clear-eyed view of what it's going to be like. You can feel warm and fuzzy, but there's no substitute for really understanding what you both want, what can be realistically achieved, and what should never be left open to interpretation.
Common Issues Faced
Identification Of The Contractor
In the current situation, the most common approach is to look up online or google the best contractors in your city, but 80% of the contractors are not online yet and are not tech-savvy. Or you can reach out to your friends and family network for referrals. Choosing the right contractor or execution agency is the most important project. Unfortunately, most of us make the mistake of trusting referrals, and it is not the best way to get the most optimum design and best price to service value. You may agree to some price and end up with a 10-20% higher cost in the end.
Before you build your dream home, you must get approvals from Municipal Administration, Electricity Department, Water Works, Fire, etc. The homeowners are not well versed with the approval process, and many a time they are taken or a ride to get these approvals, they spend a lot of time, money and energy following up for these approvals. The standards, information, and time are taken for approvals are also not transparent.
Make Home More Sustainable
How green is your home or the materials used to build your home? There are ways by which you can reduce the carbon footprint and environmental pollution caused during construction and post-construction by using environmentally friendly materials during construction, and these should be considered during the design phase. You can plan to reduce the home's electricity usage and water usage by a few design changes and equipment that pay back by themselves. There is very little information available online or with architects and contractors regarding the materials and equipment available for homes, so it doesn't get important during the home planning phase. Your home can be resource-efficient when
Choosing The Right Design
Different architects have different approaches to a design, and this means it is better to see a couple of design iterations before you finalise the design for your project. The more you can see or choose from, the better and it has to be tailored to your needs, and it is your dream home, so you need to take care of every detail, and it helps to have an architect who can give you a patient hearing and provide you with the best designs which can replicate your thought process.
Choosing The Right Materials
There is no one-stop shop where you can shop all the materials required for your project and get expert insights into why you need to choose one material over the other. The materials affect the quality of the outcome and the overall strength, lifetime and look of the home. Logistics and timely delivery of the materials is as important as the right material. It would be best to choose a partner who can deliver the right material at the right time.
The major reason for cost overrun is ineffective communication of the scope of work, time delays due to improper planning and execution. Quality issues also add up to the time taken to rework them. The solution to this problem is clear communication of the deliverables and expected quality and sticking to the committed timelines.
90% of the home construction and renovation projects have taken more time than committed due to improper scheduling and project management. There will be delays in supply and labour shortages, etc., so we need to plan and be nimble to handle these issues by planning to have good supply chain partners who stick to their deadlines and stick to our project deadline. We need to schedule the project before the start, add buffers at each stage, run parallel tasks to reduce the financial interest loss during construction time, and immediately raise and resolve red flags.
FAQs About The Major Problems In New Home Construction
It's hard to find a property without any defects. Often, cosmetic imperfections arise in any home that's been lived in! Of course, these things can be easily rectified; however, when more significant defects arise, it's important to know whether they too can be easily repaired, if the damage is extensive, or whether the property's structural integrity is in question. Below, we explain the difference between a structural defect, major, and minor defect and identify them.
A major defect is damage or inconsistency in any of the major components or a major element of a building. It is likely to render a facility unusable for its intended purpose and can even cause destruction or collapse of all or some part of the building. The defect can result from a defective design, faulty construction, and materials or failure to comply with the National Construction Code.
The building's major elements are load-bearing components such as foundations, footings, floors, walls, beams, joints, pads, load-bearing floor slabs, piles, braces, rafters, plates, columns, and roof trusses, fire safety systems, and waterproofing.
Examples Of Major Defects:
- Cracks and damages in the foundation (substructure)
- Cracks and damages in floors and slabs (superstructure)
- Cracks and damages in walls (superstructure)
Minor defects are small and rather simple damages that can affect how a building looks or functions without compromising the structure's integrity. These may include blemishes, thin cracks, corrosion, wall dents, general deterioration, and uneven finishes.
A minor defect doesn't always need to be remedied right away, but it is essential to be identified upon inspection so maintenance work can be planned. Therefore, an inspector must include any minor defects in the report even if they pose a safety risk.
Not having a quality assurance plan can hamper the project's overall quality. Rework will lead to cost and time overrun and material wastage that goes to the dumps and cause environmental pollution.
The major drawback is communication in any project; using inefficient tools to communicate and track the project leads to loss of information and, in turn, ineffective communication between different stakeholders. Therefore, you need to coordinate with different stakeholders during the project.
Common Causes For Budget Blow Out
Only then can you hope to live happily ever after or with a fabulous new home that comes in on time and budget, avoiding the five common causes of a budget blowout when building a new home.
The Scope Of Works Isn't Adequately Established.
This is one of the most common problems. People are often in such a hurry to have work start on their dream home; they don't properly examine everything that needs to be done and then add them later. For example, they might add in driveways later as, at the start of the process, they thought they might do them themselves but then decide they want those done too.
But they might then realise they can't get home-warranty insurance, which could impact if they sell down the line and, by then, access to the back can be a problem, as all the work at the front is done. So that becomes another big issue and can prove expensive. And don't just rely on hand-shake agreements. If there is a disagreement, that can too quickly escalate into arguments about what you both said about the scope of work.
The Project Takes Longer Than Expected.
Often drawing up schedules and sticking to them comes down to the amount of research done beforehand and good and meticulous planning. However, if a project drags on, that can prove nightmarishly expensive, with interest mounting on any loans or bridging finance and higher alternative living expenses.
Hopefully, you'll be using someone who will draw up a realistic budget and who's done all the homework about the problems that might come up to delay any work. But they should always factor in a contingency amount for a cost blow out of maybe 10, or if you can afford it, 20 per cent because there always are so many unknowns. For instance, what is the weather going to do? And no one can do anything about that!
It might help to schedule work around the driest month, September, but there are no guarantees. People build at a time when maybe they've put the money together, when good builders are available and when it suits them.
Changes Are Made In The Middle Of The Project.
One of the absolute worst things you can do for your budget is change your builder halfway through a project. It was an absolute nightmare, there was a bad builder, to begin with, and then it was so disruptive trying to get out of the contract. So we recommend others to make sure they've taken on a good builder, and not just one that a friend has used.
You need to go out and look at several builds he's done before and see how they've gone. It's equally important to have an architect you trust and who knows how to manage the builder. And also, pay for legal advice upfront before you sign the contract to make sure you can cancel it if you need to. The problems and the budget can quickly escalate out of control if plans are suddenly altered, the design is redrawn, the architect is replaced, or the draftsman quits.
Then, it's all about establishing good relationships. It's critical to have a good relationship with the builder before work starts. It should be open and where you trust his opinion.
Unexpected Site Problems Are Discovered.
When you peel back the fabric of an existing building on your site, you never know what you might find. And one of the worst and most costly surprises you might discover is asbestos. Of course, there are horrendous substances that have never been used again, but if you're on a site that's had a building pre-mid-1980s, then there's a good chance it will have asbestos which has to be removed extremely carefully and can be costly.
There could also be rock underneath the site that could prove more difficult – and expensive – to excavate than you might have imagined, as well as issues with the soil, drainage and retaining walls. One property owner discovered that a dilapidated building on his land – which he'd always thought was a shed – was a bomb shelter that became a massive undertaking to dismantle and remove.
Resolving Building Disputes
If a dispute arises between you and your builder, take the following steps to resolve it. Note: If you are a builder, please view Resolving building disputes.
- Try to resolve the dispute yourself by discussing the issue with your builder. Keep copies of all relevant documents (for example, contracts, invoices and written communications). You should also consider:
- keeping a record of all conversations, you have had with your builder
- taking photographs of work that is the subject of your dispute
- Checking the Victorian Building Authority's Guide to Standards and Tolerances (PDF, 1.97MB) details the appropriate standards and quality of work required of Victorian builders.
- If you cannot resolve the problem by speaking to the builder directly, send them a letter or email, formally outlining the issue and requesting a response. By putting your concerns in writing, you will have a record of your discussions. This can be shown to a third party if you choose to take your complaint further and demonstrate that you made a reasonable attempt to resolve the problem yourself. You should use registered mail if you are sending your correspondence by post. You can use our Example letter for an issue regarding building work (Word, 50.5 KB).
- Suppose you do not receive a response from your builder within a reasonable timeframe and cannot resolve the dispute yourself. In that case, you can lodge an online application for dispute resolution through Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV).
- Important note: Your dispute may not be eligible if you have directly engaged only one trade (for example, plumbing or painting) and the work is not part of more extensive domestic building work.
Common Structural Defects
Knowing how to categorise structural defects will help you make better decisions when purchasing a property. In addition to helping you estimate the cost of future repairs, identifying building defects can help prevent tragedies.
Structural defects are defined as "a fault or deviation from the intended structural performance of a building element." These defects are classified as 'minor' or 'major' defects and can include anything from cracks and wall dents to more serious electrical or gas issues. To help you identify minor and major structural defects at your property, below are some of the most commonly found defects in Australian homes.
Exposed Gaps Between Walls (Internal And External)
Sagging floor joints commonly cause gaps between walls due to the large distance between the supporting pillars or termite infestation. Wall gaps can also result from the faulty foundation in which the ground moves and affects the house's entire structure.
Wall And Ceiling Cracks
Cracks on the walls and the ceiling are not always serious, but they always merit a closer inspection by a professional. If you start seeing cracks on the walls or ceiling, take note if it worsens over time.
This construction flaw varies in severity and doesn't always require immediate action. For example, uneven flooring can result from improper construction or improper settling of the foundation. A professional contractor's expertise is needed to resolve the issue. Other possible causes for uneven floors are cracked floor joints, termites, and insufficient sub-floors.
Multiple cracks, warped and sagging ceilings, or damaged cornices are usually caused by rainwater sitting on the ceiling wall. This can be due to a damaged roof or gutter. This type of structural damage requires immediate attention to prevent further deterioration.
Several things can cause crumbling concrete. However, one of the most common reasons for this structural defect is exposure to moisture.
Exposure to moisture and chemicals (like salts and chloride) can cause a chemical reaction in the concrete. This will cause crystals to grow and expand and ultimately destroy the bond between the materials. Often, mortar erosion is seen in the lower portion of the brickwork below the damp coarse or waterproofing membrane. This indicates that further issues need to be identified.
Timber pests and termites may be small, but the damage they can cause in your house can be enormous. They are fond of the wet foundations, damp floors, and moist crawlspaces your house can offer. These conditions may be caused by leaking taps, broken pipes, water tanks, or other plumbing issues.
These critters can destroy any wood elements in the structure, including pillars and walls. Any sign of termite infestation must therefore be taken seriously.
Going with the cheapest quote might not always be the wisest option and, at worst, can end up a completely false economy. This is because builders may add in extra charges for items they say weren't included – and which you, the customer, might not even have thought about.