Know you need a change but not sure where to start?

Renovations on the Gold Coast, your questions answered

So you’ve decided to consider renovating but not sure where to start?

It all begins with preliminaries, preliminary planning, design and getting your vision onto something we can all see.

Preliminaries (or ‘prelims’) provide a description of a project that allows the builder to assess the work required to formulate a scope and or a cost analysis.

Depending on what stage the client is at, some of the preliminary work provided by MTB Carpentry & Construction may include:

  • Evaluation of existing dwelling and the clients design requirements
  • Soil or geotechnical report
  • Engaging of designer/architect to draw up concept design and working drawings
  • Engineering design and specifications
  • Cost analysis/Quoting
  • Certification – council and building approvals (BA)
  • Other specialist consultant reports

A client in the very early stage of deciding they are wanting a renovation, or have yet to engage a designer/architect, may require us to perform some or all of the tasks listed, this is really straight forward for us, this is what we do.

If the client has already got these documents in order, MTB Carpentry & Construction may be required to review the documents to make sure they have everything in place, before we can provide an accurate quote.

What order does this happen in and what do I do next?

In most cases clients get in contact with us with only some rough ideas (some more detailed) in mind about their project, which is fine this is what we specialise in.  Firstly, we offer a free onsite consultation and project assessment. While doing this we both determine what your wanting done and what stage it is that your up to with your plans and documentation.

Here is the common schedule of events for most renovations and extensions (some of these may not be required or you may have already):

  • Onsite project assessment – meeting with the client to discuss your project
  • Preliminary agreement is signed outlining what documentation you require to be able to start the project
  • From here we take care of the rest
  • Architectural plans – concept drawings – working drawings
  • Soil test (extensions, earthworks, structural concreting or footings)
  • Engineers plans and specifications (the backbone to the build)
  • Cost analysis / take offs / quoting
  • Contract signing
  • Certification – building approvals

Congratulations your ready to start your project


What documents are required for a quote or estimate and how long does it take?

If we are provided with accurate and detailed documentation, the quote produced will be precise. For a typical project, a 3-4 week turn around can be expected.

On the other hand, if the document is lacking, the estimating process can be done in a couple of days. This is often the case if the client is seeking an estimate during the design process.  A basic concept drawing can be used provided that the client understands accuracy will be poor.

Ideally, a detailed set of architectural drawings, engineering design, soil test report, schedule of finishes, and fitting will be a basic minimum requirement for any accurate quoting to be achieved.

Do we need architectural plans, design concepts and working drawings for our project?

You’ve decided to renovate.  To save money, you’re thinking of drawing it yourself instead of hiring a drafter or architect, or finding someone on Gumtree to keep the costs down.  This can be your first mistake.  You might save a few dollars initially, but your sketch will probably cost you more than the cost of the professional later on down the track.

A specialist will give you detailed plans that will enable you to do accurate costings for your project.  They may even be able to save you money by recommending cost-cutting design changes, plus most people find it hard to envisage what they are wanting done until it’s on paper.

You might get away with not hiring a specialist for a very small renovation project, but for anything larger, from a kitchen or bathroom renovation, to a home addition, you need to know that no details have been left out.  This isn’t for your sake, only.  The builder and all tradesman that will be required for your project will want to be confident that the job they’re doing is what you really want them to do and conforms to Australian building standards.

Plus, if your obtaining multiple quotes for your project, once it’s on paper you know that everyone is going to quote on the exact same design and specifications, comparing apples with apples.

Nowadays you can even request 3D drawings of the whole project or individual areas to help you picture what is going to look like, or you can go one step further and request a full 3D walk through of your project, so you can gauge space and look around your new home before anything is even started.

What are engineers plan, I thought we have those already?

Unfortunately, most people who have already arranged for their design to be carried out prior to speaking with us assume that’s the only plans required to build.

The architectural drawings, concept or working drawings is just the design of the project and is commonly lacking all of the structural information, or the backbone to the build.

There are many occasions when a structural engineer is needed in order to get council approval (BA) for a residential project or renovation.  Their job is to provide the technical knowledge to ensure a weight bearing structure is capable of handling the load placed on it. Some typical projects structural engineers can report on or design include:

  • Internal or external wall removal or relocation
  • Structural beam design – timber or steel
  • Structural slab or footing designs
  • Second storey additions
  • Retaining walls (over a certain height)

Because the structural engineers specify these ‘backbone’ items of the project it is near impossible to accurately quote on the project until they have been engaged to carry out the plans and specifications.

What is council approval or certification, do I need that?

Traditionally a ‘building approval’ (BA) is referred to as ‘council approval’. This is because previously the ‘council’ came out to inspect all extension and renovation work.  Nowadays a private licensed building certifier carries out these tasks and lodges all of the information in to council to speed up the process.

The building certifier is responsible for assessing whether proposed building work complies with the ‘Building Act 1975’ and associated codes and standards. The building certifier who issues the BA must also carry out certain inspections to determine if the building work complies with the approval.

The certifier usually provides council with:

  • Title / infrastructure / flood level searches
  • Relaxations to boundaries
  • Site inspections (frame and final)
  • Building approvals
  • Compliance assessments

Most extension or renovation work requires building approval.  Especially anything structural, this way when you go to sell your property all documentation is listed with the Gold Coast City Council and there will not be any problems.  The certifier is independent of MTB Carpentry & Construction but looks over all of our work and signs off on it being done correctly.


We are sure you have more questions, please contact us to find out more

0410 491 080