The Definitive Guide to Knock Down Rebuilds



The Definitive Guide to Knock Down Rebuilds

When considering large-scale alterations to your home, a knock down rebuild might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, knocking down and rebuilding a duplex property often makes more sense, both financially and architecturally, than a simpler renovation. This will also give you the opportunity to build a brand new home, which may not cost as much as you might think.

If you’re interested in demolishing your existing home and building something new designed to your specifications, then this article is for you. Here we’ll cover both the general and technical aspects of the knock down rebuild process — starting with a knock-down rebuild checklist. 

Knock Down Rebuild Checklist 

Before you jump in with your demolition and rebuilding project, it’s important to take the time to consider a few essential aspects. Check out our knock down rebuild checklist below: 

1.  Planning Regulations   

The first thing you should do is contact your local council to establish whether your existing block has any restrictions, such as vegetation or heritage. 

Alternatively, you can acquire the Planning Zone and Planning Overlays reports for your parcel of land by accessing this link. Take the time to carefully review these reports, and make sure to contact your local council for further details if necessary. 

2. Street Frontage and Depth of Block 

When choosing a new home plan, it’s important to consider the size of your block. If you’re building your new home in an established area, then your local council will likely require the setback of the principal frontage of the property to be the average of both of your neighbours.  

However, if you’d like it to be further forward than this, you can apply for a pre-lodgment meeting with council to discuss your proposal.

3. Setbacks and Easements 

Your dream home will need to comply with building regulations and meet specific minimum front, rear and side setbacks. In addition, you need to consider the position of your existing driveway when choosing a new house plan. If you’re thinking about repositioning it, then you will once again need to obtain approval from your local council.   

Any easements on your block of land can impact the designs that will work for your new home. You will need to contact the owner of the easement(s), which can be either your local council or water authorities, or check your Plan of Subdivision for more information. 

4. Drainage 

All homes require a point of discharge (or LPOD) with a sewer connection within the property boundary for drainage before any site work can commence. In some cases, your existing LPOD might be considered inadequate for a new dwelling. Similarly, if the legal point of discharge is not within the boundary, then it is your responsibility to bring it into the boundary. Your local council will determine whether your LPOD is satisfactory. 

You will also be responsible for any additional site costs relating to your LPOD. This is also the point where your knock down rebuild specialists will inform you whether any additional construction will be needed. 

5. Street Access

Another important consideration is how accessible your existing block is for both demolition and construction. Factors such as the size of the road, the presence of overhead power lines and traffic management needs (if your home is located on a busy road or an area that’s difficult to access) will also need to be taken into account.

Keep in mind that blocks with restricted access might increase the cost of your knock down rebuild due to the need for traffic management and manual unloading of materials. 

6. Neighbours 

Your neighbours can help with the approval of your home design, but any objections will likely delay your build time. Moreover, you should also discuss with your neighbours about any shared fencing, as this might need to be removed prior to demolition. 

7. Pool

Planning to install a new pool or keep your old one? In either case, you need to talk to your builder upfront as this can impact which house plan you can choose, as well as the cost of your slab design (foundation of your new home) and construction. 

Knock Down Rebuild Process

Now that you have a checklist of the things to do and consider when knocking down your existing home and building a new one, it’s time to get familiar with the demolition and rebuild process. 

Phase 1: Home Design

The very first thing that you’ll need to do once you’ve decided to knock down and rebuild your home is to begin choosing a new design and finding out how much you’ll have to pay for it. 

Whether you’re looking for single or double storey home designs, your chosen builder should be able to help you create a new dwelling that is customised to suit your needs and budget. They will also point out any potential flaws or issues with your chosen design. You can also visit display homes or display centres to get a feel of how the design will look.

Phase 2: Site Assessment

It all starts with a thorough assessment of your block and site. This will typically include site accessibility on all four boundary sides, the location of any trees or other vegetation, and the presence of any overhead power lines, among other things. A survey of the soil will be carried out as part of the assessment process. 

Many contractors offer free site appraisal services, so you might be able to get an idea of what your knock down rebuild project will require without any financial commitment. 

Phase 3: Demolition

Obtaining Demolition Asset Protection and Demolition Permits

Before any demolition can commence, you will be required to obtain an Asset Protection Permit from the council. In addition to the application fee, you will also need to pay a bond that will cover any damage to existing council infrastructure, such as driveway crossovers and footpaths. 

In addition to the Asset Protection Permit, your knock down building specialists will also need to apply for a Demolition Permit from your council.

Furthermore, if your existing home or site contains asbestos, your contractor will also need to remove this and then provide you with a Proof of Removal certificate. 

Removing Established and Temporary Fencing 

The next step is to assess any fencing on the site. Most of the time, the fencing will need to be removed to allow easy access to the block, so you should discuss this with your neighbours beforehand.

Front fences and footings will also be demolished. However, temporary fencing will be installed during the demolition and construction phase and removed on completion of construction. 

Consider the Water Meters 

Water meters can be expensive to replace, which is why you should discuss this with your knock down rebuild contractor to make sure your meter is protected during the demolition phase. 

Removing Trees and Vegetation 

In case of any vegetation overlay, you might be required to obtain permits before you are able to remove any trees located on the site. During your initial appointment, your contractor will inform you about any structures, such as trees and vegetations, that need to be removed before the demolition phase can begin. Should a permit be required, you will need to apply for one from your local council. 

In some cases, an arborist report might be requested by the council as well. This can be arranged by the council on your behalf, but you also have the option to arrange for your own arborist and supply their report along with your permit application. 

Disconnection of Services 

All existing services on the property should be disconnected prior to the demolition phase. These include:

  • Broadband, TV
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Sewer (should be removed back as far as the tie locations, and then safely and reliably capped)
  • Storm water drains (should be moved back to the legal point of discharge or title boundary if they’re outside the property)

Phase 4: Construction 

During the construction phase, you can expect several inspections to take place at various stages to prevent major issues that may arise in the future. Furthermore, any work that has been done will be legally signed off by the building certifier before the next stage of the construction process can continue. 

1. Sitework 

Your contractor will prepare the site for construction by removing all debris and rubble, cutting down the grass and weeds, etc. Once the site is clean, your land will be excavated in preparation for the concrete foundation/slab.

Inspection #1: At this point, the building engineer will inspect the excavation work, reinforcements and boundary clearances before the concrete slab is poured. 

2. Foundation/Base 

Initial works for underground power and plumbing will be carried out during this stage. 

Inspection #2: A second inspection will be carried out to examine the floor level before work on the slab/foundation begins.

If the building engineer is satisfied with the work, then the slab is poured and allowed to dry (or ‘cure’). 

3. Frames 

Wall frames and roof trusses will be erected at this stage.

Inspection #3: The building certifier will check that the dimensions and placements of the frame match the approved plans. He will also ensure that tie down straps to the slab are correctly installed. 

4. Lock-Up 

Next, the frame will be ‘locked-up’ with a roof and walls. Once the guttering, roof covering and fascia are ready, brickwork and external cladding will follow. External doors and windows will also be installed. 

After the cladding has been installed and erected — or, in some cases, while this part of the process is still going on — plumbers and electricians will add necessary pipes, cables and fittings, but without making the final connections. 

Inspection #4: The roofing, waterproofing, plumbing and windows will be inspected for potential issues. This inspection is currently mandatory only in New South Wales and Queensland. 

5. Fixing 

Now that the walls, roof, windows, doors and other fixtures are ready, the construction process will move on to the interior of your new dwelling. Plasterboard will be installed to the walls and ceilings. Any internal doors, cabinets and shelves will also be fitted, as will skirting boards and architraves. Baths, sinks and basins will also be added during this stage. 

For double storey homes, the fixing stage is also when the stairs are installed. 

6. Completion 

At this point, the contractor will get the home ready for you to move in. Painting and tiling will be finished, and external render and garage doors will be installed. Electrical and plumbing fit-offs, shower screens, mirrors and benchtops will also be added. 

Once these are done, your builder will arrange a walkthrough tour of your new home and confirm a handover date.

Inspection #5: The building certifier will carry out a thorough inspection on all areas of your new house to ensure it complies with the building code. At the end, if everything is in good order, he will issue a Certificate of Occupancy. 

There might be some slight variations in the demolition and construction phases of your knock down rebuild project, so you’ll need to confirm the exact process with your builder. Any variations, as well as any terms or conditions relating to your land, will depend on the exact specifications and situation of your property.

Remember that a reputable and experienced contractor will be able to walk you through every single aspect and stage of the process, and also make appropriate suggestions to ensure your build will be completed correctly and on time.

To find out more about how this will work for you and your property, or to ask about any of the services we offer, reach out to our team today. We are ready and able to offer our skill and expertise.

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