Renovating your home is an exciting time in your lives. Buying your home is a big investment and for many, renovating their home is the second biggest investment that they will make.

Whether you decide to embark on a large renovation project with a Builder or whether you are doing a smaller scale renovation, you will need to get quotes from qualified tradespeople to complete much of the work.

Quotes from both builders and tradies can vary a great deal in the amount of detail that they provide. Steve Burke from WA award-winning Renovation Builder, Amerex Renovations and Additions said ‘There is no standard template for quoting and the amount of detail included by builders and tradespeople can vary greatly. There is an old saying though “the devil is in the detail”. Make sure everything that you need is clearly listed. If it is not listed, then it probably won’t be included.’

Steve has provided some hot tips on how to avoid hidden costs in renovation quotes. Learn what to look for and why a cheap quote may cost you more in the long run.

Avoid the hidden costs of renovation

Ensure that everything has been included

This seems obvious, but it is important to ask what has been included AND what has been excluded from the quote. Do not assume that everything that you requested has been covered.
Your quote for any type of work should clearly list the items that are included and also list any excluded items. Do not accept a verbal explanation or explanations such as ‘don’t worry, she’ll be right’. If it is not clearly listed in print as an inclusion then it is not included.

Check that Quality Materials have been specified

Prices can vary due to different types and grades of materials specified. If a quote seems much cheaper than you expect, or cheaper than others, you will need to ask more questions about the materials supplied.

For example: if using pine for timber beams, ask whether the quote includes treated pine or untreated pine? A quality Builder should always use treated pine to ensure that you have maximum protection against termites and borers.

Are the fixtures or fittings quoted as budget level, low quality fixtures?

Allowing a very small budget amount for items such as door handles, bathroom fittings and kitchen appliances is one way of making a quote appear more affordable. However, when it comes times to make your selections, you will find that you are likely to select better quality items than has been allowed for in the quote. The end result will be a variation to the price and you will be paying more.

This can add thousands to your project and blow your renovation budget. You can avoid this by performing a quick Google search to check whether the amount allowed in the quote for a selection, will allow you to select quality products. Alternatively, go and visit a store or a showroom and talk to the suppliers.

Quality Materials will stand the test of time

Pay for the best quality that you can afford at the start. Do not be convinced that cheap fixtures and fittings will save you money.

In the long term, poor quality fittings and building materials will not stand the test of time as they are more likely to break or wear out easily. This means that the future capital gains in your home may be affected as a result. A short term saving is unlikely to bring long term gains.

Quality building projects that are completed with quality materials and quality workmanship will appreciate the value of your home at a greater rate and you will get a greater return on your investment in the future.

The classic hidden cost: Variation fees!

If you are engaging a professional Builder, it is important to ask them about their Administration fee for Variations. If this is not specified in their quote then you need to ask them about it. ALL Building and renovation projects have variations from time to time – don’t believe anyone who suggests otherwise!

Builders sometimes charge anywhere from $250 to $1000 as an admin fee per variation. Imagine a renovation with 10 variations e.g. these can be small things such as simply deciding to add extra power-points, or changing a fixture selection, etc… If a builder charges an Admin fee of $1000 per variation, you could be adding $10,000 to the total cost of your that you have not budgeted for.

This type of hidden cost can really hurt!

Will the Builder complete the job on time? The hidden cost of rent.

If you are undertaking a major home improvement project, you will probably need to rent and live elsewhere during the project. If your building project runs over time, you will need to pay a hefty amount in rent each week/month.

So, how can you safeguard against the delivery date running over schedule? Find out if the Builder has a track record of delivering on time before you sign up. Ask if they have completed similar projects in your area and how long they took to complete them. Don’t just take their word for it, you should also:


About the Author

Suzanne Burke - Amerex Renovations and Additions

Suzanne Burke is the General Manager at Amerex Renovations and Additions. Amerex is a Perth based award-winning building company that specialises in home renovations, extensions and second storey additions. Suzanne and Steve Burke (the Managing Director of Amerex), will soon be releasing a book – Nail Your Renovation without Getting Screwed – to share their experience, insights and knowledge of the home renovation industry with homeowners Australia-wide.



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A luminary of the housing industry was recognised at the recent HIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards ceremony held at Crown Perth

Jason Windows Director, HIA Charitable Foundation Chair, former HIA National President and former Western Australian Region President Ron Dwyer was awarded the Sir Phillip Lynch Award of Excellence.


First published as Industry luminary acknowledged in the New Homes lift-out, The Weekend West, June 8-9 2019 Edition. Republished with permission from New Homes, The West Australian.

The Sir Phillip Lynch award recognises outstanding individuals who have provided innovative and valuable contributions to the housing industry and who demonstrate unfailing integrity and an exemplary attitude of excellence.

After starting out in the plastering trade, Mr Dwyer joined Jason Windows in 1983. Rising through the ranks of the WA-based aluminium glass window and door manufacturer, he led Jason Windows for a number of years before stepping into a director’s role in 2010.

Since joining HIA with Jason Windows, Mr Dwyer has worked tirelessly to support HIA members, being elected to the WA/Asia Region Executive in 1993 and being heavily involved in the review of the Home Building Contracts Act WA in 1994.

In 1999 Mr Dwyer was elected President of HIA WA and provided extensive, hands-on support to members during a period of enormous change brought on by the introduction of the GST.

Mr Dwyer’s commitment to the industry continued at a national level, appointed to the HIA board in 2001 and serving as National President from 2013 to 2015.

During that time, Mr Dwyer was instrumental in establishing the HIA Charitable Foundation. The foundation has supported those in the industry affected by asbestosis, and recently turned support toward Beyond Blue to tackle the nation-wide condition that affects one in four people in the residential construction industry: depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Mr Dwyer continues to bring industry participants together as Chair of the foundation, playing a central role in developing and delivering the first HIA Charity Home which, with the support of the Western Australian industry, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support mental health.

Over the last four years the HIA Charitable Foundation has raised more than $1.2 million and, with Beyond Blue, is working to give people the confidence to support those around them and make anxiety, depression and suicide part of everyday conversations.

A humble awardee on the night, Mr Dwyer never did any of it for the recognition, demonstrated through his unwavering contribution to both the WA and national housing industry.

The housing industry has been grateful to have such great leadership and enthusiasm from an ever-giving volunteer who encourages and supports so many others.


About the Author

Cath Hart - Executive Director HIA WACath Hart is the Executive Director – Housing Industry Association WA. HIA is the peak industry association for residential construction and development industry in Western Australia.




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