FAQs

Isn’t this just another cost on top of all of the other costs I am expected to pay?

The overall cost to you, the Owner is less as a direct result of utilising the services RenoHelp provides. This is because RenoHelp ensures you are maximising savings through every stage of your Building or Renovating Project. That is, the savings that RenoHelp can generate for you far outweigh the cost of RenoHelp’s services.

How can RenoHelp help me?

RenoHelp can help you save time and money; not only the time it takes to complete your project but also your personal time. Most people underestimate the drain Building Projects place on their personal time, of which for most people is already limited due to working Full-time, not to mention all of the other demands from children, etc.

How can RenoHelp save me money?
RenoHelp saves money for its clients in many and varied ways. These include but are not limited to:

Finding for the owner, Builders and other service providers such as Designers, Building Surveyors, etc. who will result in the lowest cost to the owner, as opposed to the service providers and builders with the lowest quote.

For example, whilst a quote from one designer might be slightly higher than other quotes received, that Designer’s design might be the least expensive to build. The same applies to say Engineering; an Engineer with a low price may overdesign the structure for the project, say with excessive piling, steelwork, etc. which can add thousands of dollars to the cost of the project.

Similarly, choosing a Building Surveyor purely on quoted price could result in additional design for changes they require that other Building Surveyors may not see the need for; additional construction costs resulting from the design changes they require; and additional Building Surveying Fees resulting from the increase to the cost of the job.

Worst of all is choosing a Builder purely on quoted price; it’s not the price that’s important but what they have left out of it (that they can and most likely will, add in later by way of Variations) and what Contractual Terms & Conditions they are proposing.

As the Building industry is ‘close knit’, the independence of RenoHelp ensures Owners are fully informed and in full control of whom they engage and that what they’re paying is competitive and importantly transparent.

To make matters worse, because they don’t have to be competitive after the contract is signed (that is, it is rarely practical to ask another builder to quote for the variations) many builders will inflate the value of variations. Many Owners are oblivious to this or don’t know how to handle it; RenoHelp can assist with this,

Reviewing the Design at key points during the design process to ensure errors and the like are identified and corrected in a timely manner. Not doing so can result in significant additional cost on a Project

Not only is choosing the right Designer important but so too is reviewing their outputs. It is not uncommon to have discrepancies between drawings, omissions and other errors. These are not necessarily obvious to the untrained eye and often don’t get picked up until it’s too late and the mistakes have actually been constructed on site (long after the Designer has received their final payment). Correcting these mistakes (after they have been built) costs money and it is reasonable for Builders to request a Variation to the Contract for such rework. Sometimes rework costs can be significant. Even if the design discrepancies haven’t been built, Builder’s sometimes claim Variations on the basis their price was based on one drawing when in fact another drawing contained the correct information.

Owners typically focus on aesthetic and layout aspects of designs; they don’t necessarily appreciate or understand the technical aspects. This is where RenoHelp can assist.

It is of utmost importance to resolve as many errors as possible in the design to minimise cost increases during construction.

Assessing Construction progress before payments are released. Not doing so can result in significant delays and sometimes significant additional cost on a Project

It is not only important to choose the right Builder but also to monitor their work also. A common mistake made by many owners is releasing payments to builders for work that has not been completed. Sometimes this is because Owners have agreed to Payment Terms in the contract that facilitate this and other times this is because owners don’t understand the contract, their rights and/or what has physically been constructed and what has not. These mistakes are made because Owners do not have the same level of experience that Builders have with Building Contracts, Construction, etc. That is, the parties are not a level playing field. RenoHelp can assist owners by reviewing Construction Contracts before they are entered into and reviewing physical progress on site before payments are made. The reason this is important is because the Building industry is rife with Builders who:

Give priority to other projects once they have received payment in advance

Go bankrupt, in which case the Owner will never see that money again (for work that has not been completed). This is a significant risk that many owners don’t appreciate until they are in this situation. RenoHelp ensures Owners don’t find themselves in situations such as this by ensuring the Builder is never paid for more than the work they have completed

At what stage in the process should RenoHelp get involved?

To maximise the value that RenoHelp can add to you and your project, ideally RenoHelp would be engaged as soon as you have decided you want to build. That is before any other services providers such as Designers, Builders, Building Surveyors, etc. have been engaged

At what stage in the process can RenoHelp get involved?

Whilst ideally RenoHelp would be engaged before any other services providers such as Designers, Builders, Building Surveyors, etc. have been engaged, RenoHelp can be engaged at any stage during the Building process as there is money to be saved at every stage. RenoHelp has even been engaged by some clients well after Construction has commenced and/ or a problem has arisen.

Why can’t a Builder just do all of this for me?

Some Builders will happily tell you they can take care of everything for you, which they may be able to, however it will cost YOU significantly more.

Builders’ pricing will be based on the information you provide to them (as it should be) but if the information is preliminary, many builders will see this as an opportunity to submit a low price to win the job, knowing full well that they will have many opportunities later to extract more money from you. That is, as the design is further developed, this constitutes a change and the builder is well within their rights to issue you with a variation to the contract sum. The problem is many builders inflate the value of variations and without assistance from an experienced professional, owners feel they have no option but to accept the variations as presented.

Builders will not typically have your interests as their priority. Their priority is to maximise their revenue, which unfortunately is at your expense.

Now that I have a Planning Permit, can I now engage a Builder?
This is not recommended because it is likely the design you submitted for Town Planning approval only includes sufficient detail to satisfy Town Planning’s requirements. For clarity, it would not make sense to further detail the design at this stage as the Town Planning process could require the design to change. That is, it would be more costly to change detailed working drawings than it is to change Planning quality drawings.

As alluded to above, engaging a builder is not recommended unless the Design documentation is fully detailed and completed, which in effect means a Building Permit can be granted.

Some Builders will happily take on the job at this stage but their price will include recreating the Design that your Designer produced for Town Planning approval, which you have already paid your Designer for. i.e. you will be paying for this twice.

Further, there’s a chance that your agreement with your Designer disallows you to pass their design on to another Designer (e.g. a Builder’s Designer) to complete/ detail the design (without paying them a hefty penalty for the release of the documents). There are examples of people paying $40,000 for the release of documentation for use by others.

Isn’t what RenoHelp does, what Architects do?
The key differences between Renohelp’s service offering and that provided by architects is summarised as follows:

Firstly, RenoHelp assists clients in choosing the right Designer/ Architect therefore RenoHelp’s involvement commences earlier than that of an Architect

Once a Designer/ Architect has been engaged to do the Design, RenoHelp assists owners with independent Design Review, which an Architect obviously won’t do as it is their design that is the subject of independent review. That is, they are not independent, therefore cannot perform an independent review of the design

Whilst RenoHelp can recommend some good service providers (Surveyors, Engineers, Soil Testers, Energy raters, Building Surveyors, etc.) to owners who request this, RenoHelp is equally happy considering other businesses including any the Owner is already considering. Architects on the other hand often have their preferred suppliers, which doesn’t lend itself to obtaining the most competitive pricing. RenoHelp ensures clients always receive the best value for money through a competitive bidding and evaluation process.

Whilst many Architects also provide Construction phase services (including reviewing progress claims/ invoices, Variations, etc.), their core focus is on design; therefore they are often not as well versed in Construction and Project Management aspects of Projects. RenoHelp on the other hand has a balanced and unbiased approach toward Design, Construction and Project Management. That is, Construction and Project Management are Core Business for RenoHelp, not a ‘bolt on’ to Design, as is the case with Architects

As construction and in particular constructability of designs are not an architect’s strength, it is not uncommon for problems to arise during Construction that are caused by designs that are not readily constructible. It is for this reason architects and Builders typically have a tenuous coexistence in the Building Industry. That is, it is not uncommon for the relationship between a builder and an architect to be strained before it even commences. That is, they each have preconceived views of each other’s profession. For example, Builder’s feel Architects do not understand Construction and Architects believe Builders are ‘cowboys’. Having the Architect involved during Construction actually results in a conflict of interest when problems arise, as Architects will rarely highlight problems with their design to the owner but rather approve variations to the Building Contract to address the problems (which the owner is required to pay for). It is for all of these reasons it makes more sense to utilise RenoHelp for Construction Phase Services rather than an architect.

Further Architects have a reputation for ‘gold plating’ by focusing on the best, latest and hence most expensive products, designs etc. Architects do not prioritise Cost Management and Control but rather a design that will win them awards etc. Renohelp on the other hand puts the owners’ interest to the fore and Cost Control is at the core of all of RenoHelp’s services.

RenoHelp is also of the opinion that Architects overcharge, in particular for Construction phase services, likely because they would prefer not to provide these services and instead focus on design. RenoHelp naturally provides Construction phase services at a lower cost than architects.

Further, many clients don’t use architects for the design; hence using the Architect for construction phase services is not an option for many people. RenoHelp provides Construction phase services to many clients who have not used an Architect to produce the Design.

So RenoHelp acts as the Project Manager?
Whilst RenoHelp provides Project Management Services to its clients, it does a whole lot more.

Other businesses or individuals who provide Project Management services are typically engaged after a Builder has been appointed. RenoHelp on the other hand, adds value to its clients much earlier in the process. Whilst Design, Approvals, etc. are a small cost in the overall scheme of things, it is during these phases that significant costs can be added to projects, e.g. via Design, that is later to be built, therefore the earlier assistance can be provided, the better the outcome will be for the owner.

Further, RenoHelp’s fees are lower than other providers of Project Management services.

The Builder is managing the Build; where does RenoHelp fit in?
A common misconception that many homeowners have is that once a Builder has been appointed, the rest takes care of itself. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The builder needs to be managed carefully by someone who understands how to do so.

RenoHelp has the expertise required to manage builders and ensure the owner’s interests are represented at all time. Builders will always give priority to their own interests before the interests of the owner. For example, they will try to minimise their costs (take shortcuts or reduce the quality) and they will also try maximise their revenue through variations (at the owner’s expense). RenoHelp’s sole purpose is to represent the owner’s interests at all times.

Which parts of Melbourne does RenoHelp service?
RenoHelp services all of Greater Melbourne and beyond. As many services can be provided remotely, particularly during the permitting and design phase, RenoHelp can also support projects in other states of Australia.
In recent times RenoHelp has supported Projects in the Municipalities of Port Phillip, Stonnington, Boroondara, Manningham, Maribynong, Darebin and Casey
Does RenoHelp specialise mainly in Renovations or are they happy to get involved with new Builds (or knock down/ re-builds) also?
RenoHelp adds value to all domestic building projects including new houses or multi-unit developments (including knockdown/ rebuilds) and Extensions & Renovations to same. RenoHelp does not have a preference for some project types over others.
If I engage an experienced Designer, why would I get RenoHelp to review the Design?
It is not uncommon that errors, conflicts and omissions are made in designs, which if passed on to a Builder, could be used against the owner by way of costly variations. Further, sometimes elements of designs are not readily usable and/or constructable; with RenoHelp’s experience in both Design and Construction, constructability is a key part of the design review
What is wrong with choosing the cheapest quote; Fixed Price is Fixed Price so there is no risk, right?
Builders are renowned for excluding and qualifying scope in their quotes. If owners are not experienced and therefore don’t know what to look for, they may appoint the Builder with the lowest price, only to be surprised later with Variations for scope that was excluded or qualified. It is not uncommon for the cheapest quote to result in the highest final cost after exclusions and qualifications are added back in.

This not only applies to Builders but to all Service Providers in the Building process including but not limited to Designers, Surveyors, Engineers, Soil Testers, Energy Raters, Building Surveyors, etc. All quotes need to be evaluated in detail to ensure they are truly comparable.

Building Contracts are pretty standard aren’t they?
Whilst there are a number of ‘off the shelf’ contracts that builders use, it is important to note that these are usually weighted in the Builder’s favour. Further, special conditions and the like result in each contract being different. ‘The devil is in the detail’ in contracts and it is important that someone who knows that they are looking for reviews the contract in detail prior to signing.
What role does RenoHelp have in reviewing contracts; isn’t this a Lawyer’s job?
RenoHelp reviews contracts in conjunction with all of the addendum documentation such as drawings, specifications, permits, etc.; something that Lawyers typically don’t do. That is, Lawyers typically review contracts purely from a legal perspective, which without an understanding of the technical documents, is not a complete review.

RenoHelp has actually been engaged by some legal firms to close the technical gap in their review. RenoHelp is happy reviewing the contract in its entirety or in conjunction with a lawyer of the owner’s choice.

How does RenoHelp charge for its services?
As all jobs and all clients are different, RenoHelp does not have one set way of charging for its services. Some clients prefer the predictability of a Lump Sum fee, whereas others prefer reimbursing Actual Time spent on the job at a mutually agreed Hourly Rate.

RenoHelp is open to these and any other reimbursement models as long as both parties achieve a fair outcome. It is really a question of who carries the risk; RenoHelp is comfortable carrying the risk if this is the owner’s preference.

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