Reports to Get Before Paying Your Builder’s Deposit
It’s super important to know what you’re getting into before you begin building. These reports give you details about the characteristics of your block and help you work towards getting a fixed quote, avoiding expensive and time consuming headaches down the track:
- Soil test
- Site survey and levels
- Detailed property report
Soil tests are performed by geotechnical engineers. Using specialist equipment, they drill into the ground at various depths and collect samples.
Soil tests tell us the soil’s reactiveness and bearing capacity. These two factors are vital information in determining the type of footings or slab subfloor can be used on your site. Therefore, your building certifier, structural engineer and local council require a soil test to be completed before construction.
Soil reactivity refers to the likelihood of the soil moving, contracting or expanding. Soil testing allows professionals to check for any chemical or physical abnormalities on site that could pose a risk to your house in the future.
Soil reactivity is graded as follows:
- Class A – Stable/non-reactive: possibility of very little or no ground movement
- Class S – Possibility of slight ground movement
- Class M – Possibility of moderate ground movement
- Class H – Possibility of high ground movement
- Class E – Possibility of of extreme ground movement
- Class P – Problem site: ground movement may be very severe – to build we will need to consult a structural engineer
Typically, Classes ‘A’ and ‘S’ only require a basic foundation, whilst all other classes are likely to require additional reinforcement.
The bearing capacity of the soil refers to the weight the soil can support per unit area. This coincides with the soil’s reactivity, whereby if the soil is more unstable the building may require deeper footings.
Often builders will quote a standard foundation/slab for your building, so by getting a soil test you help us to quote you more accurately, possibly saving you from any pricey surprises in the future.
Fill or Scrape recommendations
Soil tests help builders provide more accurate site fill and scrape recommendations. This is helpful, as sometimes a site may have been filled by the developer, or the builder may need to fill the site in order for the house to be built level.
If the fill is more than recommended, or less compacted than recommended, this can cause problems straight away or even years after construction has finished. This is also applicable to the amount of topsoil that can be scraped from your site
Site Survey & Levels
In addition to a soil test, you should also get a site survey conducted. This will give you information about the following:
A wind rating assessment gives us the expected loadings that need to be accounted for when designing your house, in order to suit wind gusts and speeds relative to your land.
Slope of the block
Building the floor level or levelling the platform on sloped land is expensive and needs to be done with precision. Having accurate levels recorded enables this work to be priced more accurately before you put pen to paper.
Existing retaining walls on your block or neighbouring blocks can have a dramatic effect on your foundation design and cost. They can create different loads and stresses in the ground, all of which needs to be accounted for in the design.
Site levels & contours
A site levels & contours report show the shape of the land, identifying any heights and falls of the block. This helps to identify fill that may have been dumped there during development or possible underground water courses.
This information is all vital for a builder to design the correct structure orientation and location for your new home.
As a part of this report, other items that are often identified include:
- Is there a gas connection point at the site?
- Is power connected?
- Is sewerage connected?
- Are water and water mais connected?
- Is there a storm water pit?
- Is there a discharge point?
- Are boundary pegs on the site? (you need to be sure it’s the correct site!)
- Is the subdivision complete?
- Will the levels on your site change?
- Is there existing fencing?
- Are there any site barriers?
- Road details, including nature strip details, visible services and crossovers directly in front of the site;
- Are there trees on your site or adjoining sites?
- Are there footpaths on your site? Is there a rollover kerb, a kerb opening or a vehicle crossing point on your site?
- What stage of development neighbouring properties are in;
- Is access to your site good? Difficult when wet? Steep?
- Are there any retaining walls on neighbouring properties?
- And more!
Detailed Property Report
The last major report you’ll need before receiving an accurate quote from your builder is a detailed property report. This will help you make decisions upfront that could potentially prevent delays, complications and additional costs further down the road.
A detailed property report will provide us with answers to the following questions:
Is your land prone to flooding?
Your land may be a flood zone, or it may have smart drainage systems that prevent flooding in most circumstances. Don’t risk finding out you can’t build the home of your dreams, or that it is going to cost a bomb to re-engineer after paying your deposit!
Is your land subject to termite infestation?
You need to know if termites live in your area so that you can implement measures to send them running away. There are a variety of termite protection systems available to use. Depending on the system your builder uses, there may be some design implications and ongoing maintenance costs and requirements. This is better than losing your home to termites though!
Is your land in a bushfire-prone area?
The government has designated bushfire-prone areas and subsequent protection standards for building works in designated bushfire-prone areas. If you live in Bathurst, you don’t have to worry about this so much. But if you live out of town, or somewhere like the Blue Mountains, this could be a massive factor in building your home.
This information and a BAL rating must be obtained to complete the design and specification work on your home.
Is your land subject to any town planning schemes or restrictive covenants?
For example, your block of land could be next to a potential highway upgrade, zoned for industrial use or even public acquisition. This could potentially reduce your resale value and end up costing you more money. Additionally, some heritage overlays can severely restrict the design, colours and overall appearance of your new home.
In addition to these major elements, a property report generally also provides information about:
- Designated land works
- High corrosion areas
- Temporary fencing requirements
- Proposed roads, parks, industrial, and farming land
- Building height restrictions
- Building setback restrictions
- Landscaping restrictions
- Heritage design requirements
A lot to wrap your head around?
Don’t worry, here at Daniel Finn Builder we can help you organise these tests. We will then help you interpret all the industry jargon and incorporate all the considerations into your quote.