Using a house builder for office renovations

Can I use a house builder for my office renovation?

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Can I use a house builder for my office renovation?

Are you considering renovating your workplace, your medical centre or offices using a residential or home builder? You shouldn’t be and there are multiple reasons for that.

A domestic builder doesn’t have the correct registration for commercial works. Instead of being qualified as a CB, or Commercial Builder they are a DB, or Domestic Builder.

They also don’t have the correct insurances to do what they’re doing despite whatever confidence they give you that their works will cover it. This leaves you open to being sued or having major legal issues should anything go wrong.

A residential builder can’t get a building permit for a commercial works in any shape or form. Their registration doesn’t cover that.

A residential builder isn’t familiar with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). This includes the required width of doors, which is one thing we often notice when doing a renovation or stripping out an existing fitout. When a residential builder has been used, there is a few giveaways. They use narrow 820mm doors, which is not wide enough in a commercial application where you need 920mm. They also often use timber framing, which is slow, heavy and hard to modify, vs. using aluminium, plaster and steel partitioning systems which are fast, easily deployed and lightweight. Especially in the application of a multi-level high-rise, the engineers do not want extra weight on the structure.

Another massive red flag is when the internal walls have been built, and then the ceilings installed. In a house this is fine, but in an office situation, it isn’t so good. We just had a project in Bayswater where the walls and ceilings had been installed like this which meant that when we removed walls, huge sections of ceilings had to be modified to make it all even. Going forward, this can cost you a lot of money.

Even if you think you’ve saved money by doing illegal works by not using a building permit and using a residential builder, they then build it wrong which costs you a lot more when you want to do expansion works late on.

Our recommendation is you need to use a Commercial Builder. The registration starts with CB; you can jump online to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) and check any registration to see if they are legally and practically able to do these works.

If you’ve got a project coming up and you have any questions like that, we are happy to help you. We’d love to make sure that your workplace is transformed legally and in a way which achieves your objective: enabling your team to excel and grow into the future.

Some other videos in this series that may interest you:

Do I need a commercial registered building practitioner when renovating my offices?

Do I need a building permit to renovate my office?

Do I need to provide disability access in my new office?