before you Build


If you are thinking of building, it’s important that you do some research to find out what builder is best suited to you and whether or not that builder has a good reputation. Find out whether the builder is respected for doing quality work, as well as being punctual. If you are looking to build high end, it’s important the builder is capable of this type of building.
Are you insured? What insurances do you have in place?
You need to make sure the builder has public liability for at least $10,000,000. Construction insurance can be a job by job cover or an annual policy. Construction insurance covers the cost of the building up until handover to the owners.
Are you a registered builder?
What is your building contractor license number? If the builder is a company then they need a company builders license and the company needs a supervising builders license. In WA it is illegal for a contractor to do works over $20,000 without a license.
How many projects do you take on a year?
In WA, a lot of bigger building companies take on many projects at a time, meaning that project managers take on, or are given, too much to do. If you want a quality build/renovation with open communication and a builder that cares about your project, pick a builder whose reputation rely's on it.
Are you compliant with all OHS requirements, and what systems do you have in place to be compliant with OHS?
This will affect you if a work cover inspector comes to site to find that your builder isn’t complying with occupational health and safety standards. This could cause a big delay in your project. A conscientious builder will have a system in place for OHS.
Can I get a list of references from any previous work you have completed?
It’s important that you take the time to read through references and check them. Look for a builder who has established good relationships and an underlying trust with their clients. Ask the owners if they were satisfied with the results. (i.e was it finished on time? Did they stick to their quoted cost? And most importantly, was there good communication?)


What do/don’t you like about your current home?
Think about what you love about your current home and write it down. It could be the size of your bedroom, the layout of your kitchen or the functionality of your bathroom. Sometimes it’s the small things like power points near appliances. It’s important to also note down the things you don’t like and be sure not to repeat that on your new home. 
What fixtures and fittings do you want?
The level of fixtures and fittings you would like should be based on your budget. We have a medium quality base range, so ask us if you would like a list of what’s included in our base range.
How many bedrooms?
This will depend on how many people will be living in your home. Do you have a small family? Are you planning on having a family in time? Maybe you are into music and would like a music room, all of these things are worth considering. Also the location of the bedrooms can be important, maybe you prefer the kids are close to the principal suite or perhaps you would like your own separate wing? Perhaps you have family and friends over often and would like to keep a separate spare room designated for visitors?
Single, double or split level?
This mostly comes down to the size of your land. Single storey homes are great for larger blocks and are easier for young families, or those who find it difficult to climb stairs. Double storey homes means you can fit a larger house on a smaller block, also maximizing your backyard space. Perhaps a second storey could get you a view of the water also?
How important is living space?
Living space is a vital part of anyone’s home. It is where you spend most of your time in the house (when awake) If you have young kids, several different living zones can be ideal. It’s important to know that they have somewhere close to the kitchen and main living area where they can play, and be seen. If you’ve got teenagers, it’s probably quite the opposite!

If you love your cooking and entertaining, the kitchen will most likely be the hub of your home. Be sure that it can accommodate your needs in terms of space and functionality. An open-plan layout would be the key to integrating with the rest of the living area. 
Have you thought about sustainability?
Sustainable homes provide greater comfort all year round, significant cost savings and are better for our environment.
How much outdoor space do you want?
Perhaps you like the indoor/outdoor flow and would like to add an outdoor decking area or alfresco? How you are going to create this outdoor space will depend on the design that you choose, so consider it carefully, including views of the garden and direction of the sun. A well thought out and beautiful looking outdoor area encourages outdoor living.
What do you want the outside to look like?
The front elevation of your home is vital. It’s the first thing everyone sees when they arrive at your place. Maybe it’s the Hamptons style homes you like, perhaps you are a fan of traditional looking homes, a small cottage front? Whatever the look, you need to make sure that it complies with your local council.
BAL rating (Bushfire Attack Level)?
A BAL rating not only helps identify bushfire risk, but also identifies specific construction standards required to improve the performance of building subjected to bushfire attacks. So understanding your BAL rating is very important.
  • BAL – Low: There is insufficient risk to warrant specific construction requirements.
  • BAL – 12.5: Ember attack.
  • BAL – 19: Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windborne embers, together with increasing heat flux.
  • BAL – 29: Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windborne embers, together with increasing heat flux.
  • BAL – 40: Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windborne embers, together with increasing heat flux and with the increased likelihood of exposure to flames.
  • BAL – FZ: Direct exposure to flames from fire, in addition to heat flux and ember attack.
What type of soil is there?
The soil on a block of land is classified by geotechnical engineers according to a recognised Australian standard.
  • Class A – Acceptable – Most sand or rock with little or no ground movement with moisture changes
  • Class S – Satisfactory – Slightly reactive clay sites with only slight ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class M – Moderate – Moderately reactive clay or silt sites, which can experience moderate ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class H1 and H2 – Highly reactive – Highly reactive clay sites, which can experience high ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class E – Extreme – Extremely reactive sites, which can experience extreme ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class P – Problem – Sites which include soft soils, such as soft clay or silt or lose sands: landslip: mind subsidence: collapsing soil: soil subject to erosion: reactive sites subject to abnormal moisture conditions or sites which cannot be classified otherwise
Are there rocks?
If your site is rocky, this could make for an expensive start to your construction project. There’s a chance that rock may not be visible, so be aware when choosing a block.
Is access going to be a problem on site?
Sites of this kind may require extra costs due to additional deliveries/crane hire, manual handling of materials and clean up of the block.
Is your block on a slope?
Sites of this kind may require extra costs due to additional deliveries/crane hire, manual handling of materials and clean up of the block.
Start your journey with Tolcairn


There are three components when it comes to a build. They are budget, speed and quality. Naturally, you would like all three and that can be achieved in balance, but it is important to note they are all linked so we need to get clear from the beginning. What is your number one priority?

Just because you choose budget doesn’t mean you will end up with a low-grade build. Just like paying over the top will not guarantee a quality build. 
But, budget will always be a top priority for both of us and all decisions will be made with that in mind. If you need a quick build then you have to be honest with your deadline.

If we cannot meet it, we will not waste your time. Quality is often spoken about and rarely delivered in residential construction, especially in Western Australia. Quality is linked to speed because it takes longer to deliver a higher standard of work.


One of the common questions asked to building companies is ‘how much do you charge per m2?’ - It is a vague question and only a vague answer can cover it: $1,800-$6,000m². Different types of projects have different associated costs which will affect the final square meter cost of your home. 
The following are only a few examples of what can vary your m² rate generally:
  • Regional location
  • Access
  • Site conditions
  • Will you be living in the home?
  • Demolition works required before the commencement
  • Exisiting electrical and plumbing works due for repair
  • Is there asbestos?
These are a few things that will increase m² significantly when renovating.
  • Level of fixtures/fittings/finishes
  • Quality of building materials
  • Single storey or double storey?
  • Size and shape
  • Special design features 
  • Type of roof
  • BAL rating
It’s important to know what is included in your quote from your builder.
There is a big difference between an estimate and a fixed quote. An estimate is exactly that; an estimate of the works. This is an approximate price that may change. A quotation is an agreed fixed price.

So if you receive an estimate for a house, it really isn’t worth the piece of paper it’s written on. Don’t be surprised if you are charged when requesting a fixed quote. It takes time to factor in all of the above plus more to get you an accurate cost of your build. Would you rather piece of mind from the start?
Start your journey with Tolcairn