Undertaking a renovation can be a daunting task, as can finding a builder who specialises in renovations on the Gold Coast.

For homeowners looking to get things done right the first time there are many things to consider, and options to choose from.

In order to avoid making costly mistakes that can result in tens of thousands of dollars in reparative work, you need to know the ins and outs of what can go wrong including the traps many first time renovators fall into like:

  • Why costs blowout
  • What problems occur if the job isn’t finished on time
  • Why poor communication happens
  • What can go wrong affecting the quality of the renovation or extension

The main reason we see problems arise is because most people go in blindfolded.

They simply don’t know what they don’t know.

For instance, some of the main issues which tend to arise include…

Roof flashings not being installed properly – can cause water ingress, which over time will set off rot or rust to the frame of the house, leading to structural failure.

Fibre cement sheeting wall cladding being incorrectly fitted – we find this often when we pull places apart, and it leads to the sheeting itself not being properly sealed around windows. The end result: water damage in the walls.

Water can get into walls and ceilings and rot the frame out (or rust the steel frame). This creates the perfect breeding ground for mould, which can be a serious health risk.

External drainage – if not done correctly, this can cause rising damp, rotting and rusting of the frames, and structural damage.

Rising damp via incorrect ventilation – causes a crystalline salt on the inside of the house where you’ll notice a white line in the concrete. This affects your carpets and floor coverings causing rot, water damage and (again) mould. Often a result of incorrect ventilation, water drainage or even the orientation of the property on the land when it comes to run off.

Poor waterproofing of wet areas –  this rots wooden frames and rusts steel frames, and makes carpets mouldy.

The challenge is the work can look great initially, however you might later discover the bathroom hasn’t been waterproofed completely (meaning you need to replace the entire bathroom).

For example, a property in Sanctuary Cove had four bathrooms – and every single bathroom, both upstairs and downstairs, lacked correct waterproofing.

The owners have had to spend over $100,000.00 just on bathrooms to be able to use them again.

It’s a big issue.

Not only does the water rot the floor, it impacts the ceiling below.

This means you not only need to waterproof, but also replace any damaged or rotted material – and anything that needs to be rebuilt on an existing house is far more time consuming and expensive.

So what is the root cause of all these issues? You guessed it – poor workmanship.

It may not be entirely their fault – often a handyman is hired to do jobs they may not be experienced enough (or licensed) to do to keep costs down, and sometimes new builders fresh out of an apprenticeship have learnt renovation techniques on the job and simply aren’t equipped.

Bottom line: If the work isn’t done properly, up to code by an experienced builder, you’re just asking for trouble – and not very far down the track.

Cost blowouts – how, why and what to do about them.

Ask most ‘would be’ renovators their biggest concerns going into a project, and you’ll hear the same thing time and time again.


So what causes renovation costs to blow-out so often?

In our experience the biggest cause of cost blowouts happens right at the start:  when builders don’t give a quote that is specific and detailed enough upfront.

Often the client assumes (and rightly so) they’re getting everything included in a quote. However, it’s not until they get into the actual build process that they discover many items haven’t been included. Things they didn’t know they didn’t know.

Another factor to look out for in the quotations are “PC items.” These are allowances  builders can put into contracts or quotes for tiles or earthworks, etc. It’s basically an estimate and allows them to lowball the figure making them appear at a quick glance to be significantly cheaper.

However  when it comes time to actually choose the products:

The homeowner gets a nasty surprise  with the extra costs stacked on-top

So watch out for this. There’s no shortage of  builders who will go in low and  try to make up the money later – just so they can get the work. 

Others may not get enough detail from the clients in the beginning, or not ask enough questions.

The challenge here is most clients want free quotes.

Yet a quote for a house renovation takes between 40-50 hours to complete properly. 

So unfortunately, PC items are a way for builders to shortcut the quoting process, making it easier for them to turn around a quote. Yet in the end can come back and bite you, with a huge blowout in costs.

The repercussion of delays…

One of the biggest problems that occur when a job fails to meet a deadline is often short term accommodation that can’t be extended. 

It can leave you high and dry without a roof over your head. Even if you can manage to extend your temporary accommodation, it’s going to cost you a significant sum of money.. 

Why do renovations typically run over?

It generally boils down to two things: 

  1. Underestimating the timing
  2. Poor scheduling (and not organising tradespeople properly)

The fault doesn’t always fall solely on the builder’s shoulders though.

People do tend to change their mind along the way, and don’t understand the repercussions or the extra time involved.

But how could they?

They’re not builders!

It boils down to having good communication, both ways.

You can still have what you want, but if it means it’s going to take an extra three weeks and if the builder doesn’t communicate that to you, you’re going to have issues.

Of course, sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control – like when mother nature or a worldwide pandemic occurs. 

It was especially prevalent during the recent flooding crisis and pandemic, as materials have been very difficult to source.

There were situations where trusses were literally floating down the river on the day they were due to be delivered. The whole approach needed to be switched up, going old school and hand pitching the entire roof.

This all takes time to organize. The engineer needs to redesign it, timber has to be sourced, and the roof needs to be reframed. (yet it’s far better than the alternative which would mean the client waiting six months for the trusses to be delivered again).

In these situations, it’s a matter of how skilled  the builder is, and how flexible they are in order to improvise and get the job done on time.

Not only do they need to know their  suppliers and trades well, they have to  have paid them in a timely manner over the years because when times are tough, guess who gets put at the front of the queue?

That’s why it’s important to work with a builder who has a reputation for completing projects on time, and who has strong relationships in the industry.

Most Headaches Can be Avoided  With Better Communication

The problem is so many builders are difficult to contact.

They don’t return calls or emails and as a result, as different tradies do their part, walls get put in wrong places, tiles are mislaid or the product ordering goes pear shaped.

If the communication is non-existent, how are you as the client supposed to know who is meant to be on site?

It’s communication on all sides because the builder needs to be in communication with both you as  the client, and all the trades people.

This often becomes an issue when dealing with big companies because you’re often communicating with a leading hand or someone who has multiple jobs on the go. If you aren’t able to speak to them straight away, this can cause problems. And it goes both ways… 

As the Client, You Need to be Able to Respond  to the Builder’s Questions Quickly

Otherwise, it ultimately costs you more to have trades just standing around waiting for a decision.  Or worse,  they move on to the next job and don’t come back. Because so often, if there’s not a decision, the tradies will simply pack up their tools and go to the next job.

6 of the Most Dangerous Renovation Jobs, if Not Done Right

  1. Balustrading: can actually cause a fatal fall if someone goes over the edge of the balcony, leaving no margin for error.
  2. Stairs: if they’re not the right spacing apart, they are not up to code (according to the HIA) and can be very dangerous – easily causing people to trip.
  3. Tiles & Substructures: if the wrong primer is used (concrete and fibre cement require different primers) or tiles and other floor coverings are not placed down correctly,  serious issues can arise with lifting and cracking leaving sharp edges to trip and cut yourself on.
  4. Electrical wiring: If not completed  to code or the wiring in place is not upgraded at the same time as the renovation, it can become a fire hazard.
  5. Waterproofing – do them with the wrong primer and you can  end up with water damage getting into the surrounding areas, potentially allowing for mould growth. This is extremely bad for health and some species can even be deadly. 
  6. Roof flashing – poor installation allows water to seep into your  home. Once inside the walls and ceiling, it can cause rot and structural issues, and again potential mold problems.

In addition there are a couple of key things to watch out for that can impact the overall finish of the renovation:

  1. Poor quality plaster finishes: causing  unsightly lumps throughout your  walls and ceilings.
  2. Painting: If not enough coats are applied, or the quality of the paint used is poor, it  can make your  walls look unfinished and unsightly.

And it doesn’t stop there… 

TV Shows Like the Block and House Rules Make it Look Easy – But There’s No Shortage of Renovation Traps

After years of specializing in renovations and extensions, we’ve seen it all – because we get called in to fix it!

Here are the biggest issues on extension renovations:

Wall removal: Understanding what parts of an existing house needs to be supported whilst removing walls (and to even know if it’s possible) takes years of experience and expertise.

Bathrooms: If waterproofing is not completed properly (or if tiles are not placed correctly), it might look great initially, but will very quickly fall apart, destroying finishes.

Upper level extensions: When adding another level to the top of an existing house, if the lower level and footings are not strong enough to support the extra weight, there can be issues with structural damage which can result in the collapse of the entire building.

Existing garage: Often people will want to convert an existing garage to a room (and then push a carport out towards the front of the property) without realising the garage area (which is generally about 80mm lower than the normal slab) is not up to code. You actually are required to lift the slab up to the same height as the inside of the house to meet the code requirements.

Lack of continuity: The last thing you want is for the renovation to look like It’s been ‘tacked on.’

It can devalue your property to future buyers. 

This is why the initial planning stage with the architect or building designer is so important, to ensure the products being used are similar and the rooflines are matched so it looks like it’s always been there.

Be careful with ‘mix and match’ rooflines too. 

The box gutters meet in between roof lines, which becomes a problem with water leaks. If not done right, homes that have had multiple extensions leak throughout the life of the house.

Four Most Popular Types of Renovations

The  most common renovations people undertake on the Gold Coast to make their homes more liveable, or accommodate a growing family include…

  1. Bathroom Renovations : anything from adding a free standing bath, to a complete overhaul and redesign.
  2. Kitchen Renovations: ranging from cosmetic kitchen cabinetry updates, to entire relocations, redesigns complete gutting and rebuilding. Your imagination is your only limitation.
  3. General Home Renovations: these often include garage conversions, wall and flooring updates, and wall removal or additions.
  4. Home Extensions: do you want to go up or out? Adding a second story is a great way to instantly accommodate a growing family – adding bedrooms, second bathrooms, parent retreats, media centres and rumpus rooms.

Just to get your imagination running wild, here are 8 of my top renovation decisions in different areas of the home you might want to consider!

This is why Tribuild is the best choice on the Gold Coast to avoid all these issues from the beginning…

Not only are we licensed builders, we’ve had over 15 years in the area, specifically focused on complicated renovations and extensions.

My name’s Mike van den Brink. 

I’ve lived all over Queensland. I grew up on a farm just West of the Gold Coast. I went to boarding school in Brisbane and then went to Townsville for 10 years working for Termimesh, a large supplier in the building industry, before settling back on the Gold Coast in 1999.

With the beaches, bushwalking and beautiful rainforests of the hinterlands, my wife, 3 children and I love it here and are locals through and through. 

More importantly, we love our clients – and that’s why we’ve set up processes to give you a predictable result every time. 

For instance, we use a  job management system to communicate, keep track of all of our projects, and ensure you are informed on every aspect of the job, every step of the way. 

As a client, you’ll get personal access to it.

This means instead of wondering who’s supposed to be coming and when, you’ll know exactly what’s scheduled, and who’s going to be on site the next day.

It’s through all these systems and checklists, including highly detailed quoting specifications so you know exactly what you’re getting right from the very beginning…

That we can ensure the quality of each job is top notch throughout the entire build. 

It’s also why we can guarantee your project will be completed on time and on budget.

So if you’re looking for a reputable Gold Coast renovation builder you can rely on who can complete quality work like this, look no further. Give us a call on 07 5593 3471 and we would be glad to answer any questions you might have.

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