We’ve all heard about builders, plumbers, architects and waterproofers. But what about the tradies you never knew you needed… until you actually do?
While any renovation rookie would like to think a good builder can tackle everything on the job, it’s a fact that some jobs are only done by certain trades. Need a retractable magnetic flyscreen? You’ll need an expert installer. Dreaming of putting a split staircase in? Hello, specialist stair manufacturer. Fancy having slate on your roof? Enter a dedicated roof slater.
Of course, if you have an architect or builder project-managing things for you, there’s a good chance you’ll never meet many of these people – they’ll simply be found, hired and slotted into the build schedule when needed. “On a typical renovation, you deal with the builder and we deal with the rest,” says Panel builder Wayd Munro.
However, if you’re doing it yourself, some or all of that finding may fall to you, says Natasha Dickins from Little Red Industries. The DIY specialist and professional renovator has just embarked on a cosmetic renovation of her NSW coastal weekender, and she believes the older your home is, the more trades you may need. “If it’s a brickwork facade, you may need a tuckpointing expert. If it’s heritage-listed, you might need a heritage architect to advise on architraves or leadlight features. Then there are the trades you don’t even know exist, like solar specialists, fire safety experts, mould experts and more!”
Of course, your extras could number in the dozens, but here’s
a handy guide of some of the most common trades you may need.
Acoustic engineer “The council might suggest you need one if, for example, you live under the flight path and need advice on specific acoustic insulation,” says Wayd.
Air-conditioning mechanic If you’re installing air-con, you’ll want these guys on speed-dial – especially during our long, hot summers.
Arborist “You’ll need one if you have trees that could be affected
by the DA: the plans could be close to root systems, or trees could need removal,” says Wayd. “Bear in mind that removing trees can be pretty costly!”
Asbestos remover “We remove asbestos on pretty much every house,” says Wayd. “If there’s under 10 square metres of it, the builder is allowed to take it out himself, as long as all safety precautions are adhered to.” If it’s more, an asbestos contractor will be called in.
Certifier “Their basic role is to give approval to start construction.
In NSW, the certifier can look at a complying development certificate (CDC) and say, ‘yes, this property ticks all the boxes and adheres to all the criteria required; we can go straight to construction’,” says Wayd.
Energy-efficiency specialist “Having your home tested for energy efficiency can save you lots of money, so it’s a great idea when renovating. At the very least, you should talk to a solar specialist when planning your roofing,” says Natasha.
Excavator You’d be surprised by the amount of rubble and detritus
a renovation can create during excavating and demolition. “Your builder will probably have to hire a few skips as well,” says Natasha.
Flooring expert “Every renovation requires a flooring finish, whether it’s sanding new floorboards, a concrete polisher or a carpet layer,” says Natasha.
Glazier “You’ll always need one! Glass is required for windows, doors, showerscreens and even mirrors. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll find a glazier who’s happy to remove old glass when the delivery comes,” says Natasha.
Gyprocker Finishing the walls often comes down to a choice between plastering, which can be expensive, and having
the walls gyprocked with plasterboard: a cheaper, lightweight option.
Heritage consultant “You’ll need one if your home is heritage-listed
and you want to make changes,” says Wayd. “Even if it’s not listed,
the council planner can decide that your house has historical significance because of its age and decide you need a heritage report. In this case, you’ll have to plan changes that are sympathetic to the age of the property.”
Hydraulic engineer “These tradies deal with stormwater and
very complex plumbing jobs, particularly on commercial jobs,”
says Wayd. “A structural engineer deals with the design of a house and a lot of the time, if they’re qualified, they’ll do the hydraulics as well.”
Insulation specialist The right insulation keeps you cool during summer, helps your home retain heat in winter, reduces noise and, most importantly, helps your home’s energy rating.
Landscape designer “You can design the backyard yourself, as long as it’s submitted to council properly,” says Wayd. Adds Natasha, “I’m a good renovator but not a great gardener, so I’ve enlisted the help of a local landscaper to design how the front and back yards will eventually be set out. It’s good to have a plan before construction begins so I can arrange for any trees or bushes to be removed, or take extra care in keeping them.”
Lawyer “Depending on the type of renovation, it may be helpful to have a lawyer who can give legal advice, especially when it comes to dealing with councils, getting permits or looking over any big contracts,” says Natasha.
Roofer Be aware that there are a lot of different specialists within the roofing trade, such as roof tilers and roof slaters.
Scaffolder “You or the builder may need to hire a scaffolder if there are any structural changes to be made to your home,” says Natasha.
Stair manufacturers “The builder may call in a specific stair manufacturer if you have a tricky staircase in mind,” says Wayd.
Stonemason “If part of your plans involve sandstone work, you’ll need a stonemason instead of a bricklayer. It’s an entirely different trade,” says Wayd.
Surveyor “A surveyor will survey and identify boundaries and anything on the land, like trees or other obstacles,” says Wayd. “At the end of the project they may come to check and measure that the building is done as per the approved plans.”
Traffic manager “If it’s a large project that creates havoc on the street, your builder may need to submit a traffic management plan to the council,” says Wayd.