Your builder, in most cases, is representing you as their client in your building or renovation project. At the 'end-of-the day', you (the site/home owner) are ultimately responsible for the activities and general environment of your site or renovation.
When setting up your site or renovation for your project, the following is a Site Preparation Checklist that can help with monitoring the various site responsibilities:
Confirm that your builder has all the necessary permits, approvals, licenses and insurances to start work on your site - this is usually included or identified as part of the build contract.
Confirm that all builder subcontractors and trades have their own permits, licenses and insurances as required for your project. The builder should be responsible for all workers that work under them, which is identified and written in the build contract or quote.
For additional protection, confirm or apply for your own Home Building Insurance and site liability cover - check with your current insurers or ask your financial lender for options. Keep copies of all Insurance Certificates of Currency (document) available in case you need them.
Your site needs to have identity (eg. Builder/Owner Name and contact number and permit reference) and safety (eg 'Only authorised personnel on site', or 'See site office or builder for site entry and induction') information and signage on your site.
The signage needs to be visible and displayed at your site entrance. Review the site with your builder, identifying any safety or risk concerns or out-of-bounds areas - determining mitigation actions and responsibilities. Identify access and secure storage needs for delivery of materials.
Review the site access and driveway with your builder, for heavy vehicle access and delivery of materials. You may be responsible for insuring or preparing a stable wet weather driveway into your site - this should be in writing in the contract or quote.
Your site work area will need to be ring-fenced or surrounded by safety perimeter tape and notices displayed. Access to your site will need to be locked after work hours.
Each person accessing the site will need to have a safety induction. Identify via the build contract/quote who is responsible for providing site inductions to delivery, trades, subcontractors and other visitors to site. Many builders stipulate in their contract that the 'owner' does not have access to the build site until project completion.
Note: A project manager/foreman cannot monitor every single activity of your project - as you may be one of several projects they are looking after. It is advisable to have an engineer or architect represent you on site on a week to week basis to check on works and alignment to design. Many a mistake was avoided by confirming design approach and installation before the work began.
Have at least one copy of the build design plans on site for reference. Check with your local council about the laws for your site with regard any unusual noise levels, dust levels, water run-off, specific material storage and temporary changes to existing site fence or access requirements. Check with council on permitted work start and finish times for days of the week in your location and season.
These requirements are covered broadly with the council development approval for construction.
Largely an after-thought, responsibility for site clean-up needs to be clearly identified in the build contract/quote. The clean-up includes taking rubbish offsite for disposal. The biggest problem is monitoring subcontractors, trades and delivery companies not cleaning up after themselves.
Someone needs to be responsible for monitoring these third-parties for cleaning up and not leaving tools and materials lying around after work hours. This responsibility generally rests with your builder, as long as it is an inclusion within your build contract/quote. Several site clean-ups may be needed several times during your project and should be scheduled with your builder.
Gary Norton - 12 years building industry, home designer and adviser.
Chris Doucas - Previous owner builder, 20 years project and contract management.
For more information, email BuildingMatters4U@gmail.com.