Certify practical completion
Once the building work has been completed, the builder will arrange a site visit with the contract administrator to certify practical completion . As they go through all the elements of the building work, the administrator will write down defects and outstanding works in a Snagging List. A timeframe for fixing these issues should be set and major ones will need to be amended before you formally accept the building.
Arrange final payments
Once the project is completed to satisfaction, some or all of the final payments to the main contractor, subcontractors and contract administrator should be made. This will vary according to what was established in the building contract (e.g. where retentions were part of the contract, they may be part-paid at practical completion and part-paid at the end of the Defect Liability Period).
Client and contract administrator
The contract administrator should work with you on the following activities. If you have followed a Custom Design process but have not engaged the designers to administer the contract, it is recommended that the designers are invited to participate in the handover inspection and that they hand in any important information they may have.
Attend handover inspection
Once the construction process is complete a handover inspection should take place where the building is formally accepted and you become responsible for insurance, security and maintenance. During a thorough site visit the builder, contract administrator and designer should give you a comprehensive explanation of all the house’s features and demonstrate how systems function so that you can operate them properly. Do not refrain from asking any questions, no matter how obvious they may seem, it is essential you understand how the house works.
Also ask how transformations can be done in the future. Even though a client who has carefully followed the design process may have indicated requirements for future adaptation, it is always useful to be reminded of what elements of the house are easier to modify than others (e.g. load-bearing walls vs. partition walls).
Ensure all the necessary information is received
In addition to you understanding how the house works, a complete set of documentation should be received from the builder and the designers. This can include a full copy of as-built drawings produced by the designer and their sub-consultants. These will be essential for repairs and modifications in the future. You should also ask for copies of construction records and health and safety files.
Guarantees and warranties for installed systems, appliances and other products are required for final handover completion. It will be useful to ask the builder whether the products have specific use conditions that may affect their validity. All exterior materials and cladding will require regular maintenance to meet the conditions of their warranty or guarantee.
Define procedures for reporting defects
The Defect Liability Period is a period of time during which builders are responsible for fixing any failures that come to light after the house has been received. You should check your contract before signing it to ensure a Defects Liability Period is included. You are responsible for reporting any issues and it is recommended that incentives and penalties are in the contract to motivate builders to deal with them speedily.
Outline feedback and assessment mechanisms
Monitoring the house’s performance when people are living in it is essential to determining whether sustainability objectives and targets set at the beginning of the process have been met. Your electricity, gas and water bills will be the simplest way of verifying if your resource use and associated costs are as expected. A performance monitoring system can show your home’s performance in real time, allowing you to see temperatures and energy and water use. Real-time performance information means you can identify faults or leaks, fine-tune systems, and understand how your behaviour affects the performance of your home.
You should implement a process or system for assessment that will help you communicate ongoing results and report on aspects that could be improved. This is not only useful when reporting issues to builders, but also as a way to better understand how the house works.
Clients are also encouraged to communicate outcomes and share the experience with others, to help new projects at the early stages. Such communication is essential for raising the bar in the housing industry, as mistakes made by others can be avoided and positive results can be replicated with higher chances of success.
Ensure everything is in place
After construction work has finished, time should be devoted to ensuring the building is completed to the design and that all systems within the house are performing according to their expected standards. This is applicable to ordinary systems such as water pipes and electrical circuits, but also to alternative systems like solar energy or under floor heating. Although it is your responsibility to maintain these in future, it is the builder’s job to verify they are working properly at the outset. Additional tests may be required if specified in the contract, the Building Code, or if the project is aiming for any certifications (e.g. Passive House
Clauses should be included in the contract for builders to commission and fine-tune the systems in the house periodically. Ideally, performance should have been modelled and calculated from previous stages; however actual functioning may have slight variations and require adjustments to accomplish the expected goals.
Transfer meters to new owners
Upon finishing the house, builders should notify water and electricity providers about completion. After a final reading, meters are then transferred to the new owners who will be responsible for expenses from this moment onwards.