Practitioners and consumers are required to have a formal written contract which meets the requirements of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.

The contract is a binding document between you and your practitioner, which includes a start and completion date, details about progress payments and specifications for your new home (building project).

When undertaking a building project you should always read your contract and make sure you fully understand its contents.

Your practitioner may use a standard industry contract for domestic housing from their industry association or have a lawyer draft one.

Whatever the contract, it is important that you educate yourself on the document and the contract process.

Contracts provide a baseline in case a dispute arises between you and your builder. If the correct information isn't recorded in the contract, either as part of the original agreement or in a variation, it is not binding. Here are some handy tips to help you with the contractual process:

  • Ensure your contract includes a start and finish date, detailed plans and a clear statement about your cooling-off period

  • Check your contract with a specialist consultant or solicitor before signing

  • Cross out all blank sections in the contract

  • Check insurance details, particularly warranty insurance

  • Ensure you understand the costings and any subsequent variations

  • Familiarise yourself with the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995. The Act sets out a number of warranties that apply to all domestic building contracts, so the work carried out on your home meets its standards

  • Understand the schedule of progress payments set out under section 40 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995. Parties entering their own schedule of payments should seek expert advice

  • Make sure any variations are documented, understood and signed before work is commenced

  • Understand you have a five-day cooling off period after signing the contract

  • Document all work conducted from day one - taking regular photographs and dating them is a good way of recording the progress of works.   Extracted from the VBA.

There are several types of Contracts available including those from the HIA, Australian Institute of Architects and Building Contract for New Homes from Consumer Affairs.

Any build costing  over $10,000 requires a Major Domestic Building Contract.




Work can only start after a Building Permit has been issued by your Registered Building Practitioner (RBS) .

Building permits are issued to ensure that the building work complies with the Act and Regulations. Undertaking building work without obtaining the necessary building permit is a serious offence and can result in severe penalties.


The Act prescribes a penalty of 500 penalty units for anyone carrying out building work without a permit. This equates to an amount in excess of $70,000. The Act and Regulations provide benefits to consumers. ( extract from VBA)


The RBS can be a private Inspector or one from the Council. The RBS must  provide the mandatory inspection stages with the Building Permit.

A building surveyor is responsible for checking that your building project meets the minimum standards of the building regulations. They will independently:

  • assess your plans and issue the building permit

  • require protection work to be undertaken so your building work does not damage your neighbour’s property

  • conduct the mandatory building inspections personally or have a building inspector conduct the inspections at the mandatory notification stages of your building project, and

  • issue the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection on completion of the building work.

Your building surveyor may issue directions and orders to the builder to fix building work or to stop work. They can also give you building notices and orders about the building work, if necessary.


Extracted from Domestic Building Consumer Guide

The mandatory inspection stages for a house are:

  • completion of excavations before placing the footings

  • before pouring the concrete footings or slab when steel reinforcement is in place

  • completion of the framework, and

  • completion of all of the building work.


You can ask your building surveyor to carry out additional inspections, for example, pre-plaster inspections and wet area inspections. Your building surveyor may charge more for additional inspections

Role of Builder

Your builder is responsible for completing your building project to the standard required by the building regulations and your plans and specifications. The builder may undertake the work or engage and manage tradespeople to do the work.

Your builder must also provide you with a copy of the Domestic Builder Insurance  policy and a certificate of insurance for your building project, before you pay your deposit. If you are concerned about the validity of the certificate, you should check with the insurer.

You can verify the currency  of the Domestic Building Insurance from VMIA 

extracted from Domestic Building Consumer Guide


Construction should always begin with the consultation of your RBS (this is done to ensure timeframes for the application process, inspections are mutually understood to mitigate any issues that may hinder the progress of your project).

The construction sequence is summarised as follows:

Excavate site platform
Set-out the footings, excavate and pour
Form up and pour the floor slab
Set-out and construct house frame (timber, brick, block, steel)
Erect the roof framing/trusses
Fix roof cladding
Install external windows, plumbing and electrical (rough in)
Finish internal and external walls
Internal fit out, including services



After removal of unwanted vegetation, and debris the site is levelled in accordance with the Site plan or cut and fill drawing.







Council may require you install Sediment Control barriers ( like hay bales or silt fencing).

Such barriers aid in controlling unwanted runoffs to the stormwater drains and keeping the area clean.



Prior to construction you will need temporary electricity, water supply and site ablution facilities











The building footprint must be set out accurately by  a licensed surveyor. A concretor, carpenter, bricklayer  can provide the same service but we prefer the surveyors services.

Without a detailed and accurate setout for townhouse and unit developments, it is near impossible for contractors to be able to understand which wall is which, which level or unit is which.

Setbacks to re established boundaries ( not fences)  are critical.



The Site is  excavated for footings- strip footing, piers, waffle slab.

After the laying of a membrane, the steel reinforcement is fixed into position using  chairs
The RBS and engineer will inspect the footings prior to concrete being poured


Give the RBS notice (usually 24 to 48 hours).
The engineer, will also require notice


Before footings are poured drainer is required to install pipework going under the floor (i.e. wastewater drains or water supply)



Concrete for footings poured as soon as possible after inspection


Underfloor drainage will need to be inspected  prior to covering the pipes with slab or floors with low clearance (less than standing)
Give notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) to the local government plumbing inspector.prior to any concrete pour if applicable.

The Licensed Plumber must issue a  Compliance Certificate.
The sewerage and stormwater is usually installed around the time of the slab pour or sub-floor is construction



Give notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) to the plumbing inspector prior to back filling trenches


A licensed electrician is required to install electrical services in, under the slab or behind brickwork.


The Base walls or fully braced edge boards are placed to form the perimeter of the slab.
The Under slab area is built up with compacted fill
All Termite treatment systems is put in place.

The Under floor drainage pipes are positioned to plan and  (generally only drainage pipe work) the waterproof membrane placed in position
Any edge boards for recesses or step-downs are positioned and braced.
The Service penetrations through the waterproof membrane are sealed


The approved termite mesh, reticulated delivery system for chemical poison or other acceptable form of treatment is required.
Retain the treatment certificate for future reference.


Give  the RBS notice (usually 24 to 48 hours)


If you allow the concretor to supply their own material ensure they keep all dockets also ask for concrete  slump test results.


A full brick or block wall construction will require a brick layer.

For a brick veneer construction a carpenter and brick layer  are required.

A timber clad or weatherboard or similar light weight construction will only need a carpenter.

A carpenter or licensed installer can work with AAC (Hebel) walls.


Give notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) to the RBS as as an additional inspection.


The fascia and barges and gutters are fixed after wall and roof framing is complete
Fall gutters to the correct downpipe positions.
Ensure gutters are in place before any roofing goes on.
Connect downpipe ‘droppers’ to temporary down pipes and pipe any rainwater away from the footings


First Install roof sarking prior to fixing roof battens. There is only one opportunity to install the sarking! Sarking is  highly recommended and mandatory in BAL affected areas.

Roof sarking improves performance and comfort by providing the following benefits:

  • Helps protect your home from unseen mould growth or even worse, ceiling staining or permanent damage which can result from the entry of storm driven rain into the roof cavity

  • Limits dust entering the home through gaps around downlights and vents by reducing draughts that blow dust into the roof space

  • Improves thermal performance by reducing heat flow through the roof, helping provide a more energy efficient and comfortable home (Thermoseal only- Bradford)

  • Helps manage the risk of condensation by allowing moisture to escape whilst preventing the entry of water (Enviroseal only- Bradford Insultation)

  • Provides a secondary form of ember protection for the roof space for BAL (12.5 to 40) regions

Next fix roof battens to  roof framing. Battens can be timber or metal. (Zincalume or similar)
Finally fix roof cladding- tiles, metal roof or other. Metal roof cladding can take different profiles- Custom orb, Trimdeck, Cliplock and others. Metal roofing can be Zincalume or Colorbond offers a choice of colours. Councils usually  prefer non reflective colours.


Windows are to be fixed as soon as possible after roofing is complete.

The Australian Standard  AS 2047 ( Windows in buildings Selection and Installation) and AS 1288  Glass in Buildings) apply to the installation.
Window flashing are installed where required. 

It is the builder’s responsibility to ensure that windows and doors are installed in such a way that water does not penetrate from the outer skin to the inner skin of the building envelope. The extent of the flashing required will depend on local weather conditions. In some instances only sill flashings may be required. In others jamb and head flashing may be required. For further information please refer to the relevant sections of the BCA.

Flashing to uPVC type windows require additional detailing.
Fix external door frames at this stage.




Prior to fixing any wall sheeting  or  the cavity brick or block walls go up it will be necessary engage the following contractors:

A plumber and drainer to fix pipes into walls, connect up to the mains, and test for leaks
An electrician to wire for the power, lighting systems and fire detectors required
Communication and data cabling should be fixed  now
Ducting is to be installed for mechanical systems


Give notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) to the plumbing inspector


Fix sarking to external walls
Build veneer to outside


Internal linings fitted by a plasterer (ensure that all plumbing and electrical work is correct first) 


Fix all internal doors, skirtings, architraves, shelving, kitchen cupboards, vanities and other cupboards


After the walls are sheeted, an accredited waterproofing system must be used to seal the walls and floors of shower recesses
A copy of the waterproofing certificate must go to the building certifier.


Tile all floors (when tiling the floors in wet areas, be sure that the floor is sloping to the floor waste)
Cover floors in chosen finish


An experienced painter will finish the internal and external surfaces and rectify minor imperfections in the finished surface (ensure that the painter leaves paint to use for touch-ups, or include in the contract a requirement for the Painter to come back to do the touch-ups after all trades have been through)


After the painter and tiler are finished the shower screens, mirrors and aluminium framed sliding robe doors can be fitted


Fit all wastes and taps to sinks and tubs, and install toilets and the hot water service
Check the sewage has been connected and ensure all stormwater drainage is in place



Give notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) to the local government plumbing inspector. The Plumber must issue a Certificate.


Electrician to fit all switches, power points and wire up all electrical fittings


A durable notice describing chosen termite treatment system and maintenance requirements must be permanently fixed to the building
Perimeter treatments will need to be redoing if soil beside or adjacent to the building, or the concrete cap, is disturbed


Give notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) to the RBS.
Disconnect temporary services.


The RBS will issue an Occupancy Certificate.

Occupancy permits are documents that signify that a building surveyor is satisfied that the completed building work is suitable for occupation. The Building Act 1993 requires the issue of an occupancy permit prior to occupation of a building where a building permit states that one is required.


An owner’s manual or operation guide is useful to obtain and  covers:

  • summer and winter operation settings and day–night routines for:

    • operating and maintaining heating and cooling appliances

    • opening/closing curtains and windows

    • operating ventilation systems (cross and stack)

    • operating shading systems

    • operating roof space ventilator

  • cleaning of solar appliances

  • termite barriers and inspection schedule

  • operating guides for water harvesting and treatment systems

  • isolation valves for services (gas, electricity and water)

  • hot water system sacrificial anode replacement date

  • hot water system pressure relief valve checks

  • painting intervals

  • appropriate cleaning products for all surfaces and finishes

  • landscape maintenance requirements.

Sedimentation control barrier
Clearing the site for the dual occ
Setting out the dual occ or unit development

AuArchitecture Melbourne

Mail only : #223, 2/134 Pascoe Vale Road ,Moonee Ponds 3039.


M:  0448 170 132 call me direct -7 days  from 9am to 7pm for the best advice on dual occupancy subdivision, custom home design, commercial projects  or town planning matters. 



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AuArchitecture will gladly donate  design and planning services  to charitable organisations worldwide. 

We would love to serve you through smart and beautiful  designs for your dream house, dual occupancy, townhouse or apartment projects or commercial and industrial buildings which makes  a difference.

I recall doing a

  • large multi unit  residential design with a sky-street on the fifth level for the kids to play in safety while  creating  a real sense of community living and  

  • a modular home design which grew with the family budget rather like a series of plug in components and 

  • the windmill house with views where each stair landing led to a different view and function and

  • right down to designing and obtaining planning permits for practical traditional designs to meet the family  or developer's budget and objectives.

Our Founder has  worked on hundreds of development sites for dual occupancy and townhouses. He worked on commercial, health, education, retail and leisure projects to name a few other disciplines.

Our professional designs are flexible to suit your vision and realistic to meet your budget.

We advise you must seek legal and financial advice prior to making a commitment on any property development venture. The opinions we provide are general in nature.