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Whether you are building a new home (or a granny flat) for the first time or the tenth, it is unnerving to remember all the steps and the tasks involved. Though your builder will be doing most of the work, there are lots of aspects you need to keep an eye on and several tasks you need to juggle. Add this to your everyday tasks and activities, and you could easily find yourself feeling overwhelmed and having to spend your days putting out fires.

From putting together the documents for council approval, to getting the keys, there are hundreds of tasks which need to be completed. All of these tasks need to be done efficiently and at the right time. There are different ways to ensure the ball doesn’t get dropped. One of the best ways to make sure you have covered all the bases is to have a checklist handy.

We have outlined the essential elements that you need to have on your checklist, right from the budgeting stage to the handover. Use this checklist as a starting point to kick-off your project – there are probably other elements that you want to add to this list.

1. Finance and budget:

Sort out your finance right in the beginning – getting pre-approval from your lender is a great place to start. It will give you a sense of what you can afford, so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment or worse. After this, you can work on a realistic budget. For a true indication, put down your needs and requirements for your project, plus the features that will be good to have (these can be removed later if you feel it is going beyond the target amount).

Budget and finance

Talk to professional builders to get an estimate. Remember, all the ‘*from’ prices indicate only the base price – without some essentials such as council applications, siteworks, connection to utilities and even finishing. If you see a billboard with a picture of a home and the price, 9 out of 10 times the price does not cover everything the picture represents. Your budget should therefore include allowances for added costs. You should also pencil in other features such as solar if you are planning on it.

2. Design:


House design

Research on designs and look at some real examples. Pinterest, magazines, Instagram are great places to look for ideas. You can also browse through our designs and gallery page for some inspiration. Also, consider any special requirements for your project – if it is for elders, then the design must include options to encourage independent living. If you are building a granny flat for rent, then make sure you use reliable and functional fixtures which will encourage your tenants to look after your investment.


3. Get the right builder:

You need to make smart decisions while choosing your builder. Do not pick a builder blindly just because of the brand name or cheap price. A well-known brand does not mean they are professionals. There are several big builders who quote a lower price in the start only to increase it multiple-fold as your project progresses. At halfway, you will feel like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place! We have seen several projects that have been quoted much lower than what we quote, but the final total turned out to be well over the original price! This price difference is because a lot of inclusions might have been omitted in the quote. More on the quote is coming up next. But to pick the right builder, look up customer reviews, list of standard inclusions they offer, how many projects they are working on and if possible talk to their existing or past clients. Shortlist a couple of builders and then get a quote.

4. Quote:

A professional builder will need to conduct a site assessment where they will discuss your ideas and offer advice about things which are practical and things which are not so practical. They will assess your site, discuss which designs will suit your block and even help you customize yo

ur granny flat. Take a look at the process that we follow to give you a true indication of the price.  

Any estimates should include the following (and possibly more):

  • Siteworks allowance (a part of your siteworks cost. Some builders don’t include this. We do – to see our standard inclusions click here.)
  • Insulation and energy efficiency
  • Council approval
  • Termite treatment
  • InsuranceQuote
  • Furnishings and fixtures
  • Plug and power points
  • Essentials
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Electricity
  • Kitchen
    • Cupboards
    • Pantry
    • Appliances
    • Splashback
  • Bathroom and laundry
    • Flooring
    • Towel holder
    • Toilet roll holder
    • Washing machine connection, etc

This list covers only the basics – for the full list, check out our standard inclusions.

It’s not good practice to sign any contracts until you have a Fixed Price Quote from your chosen builder. If you commit to a contract prior to Preliminary Investigations such as engineering, you will be exposed to having many additional costs being added as Variations. The quote should also include any additional finishes and fixtures that you have requested. Sign the contract only after you have seen the comprehensive quote.

5. Building and construction:

Once the wheels are set in motion, you need to keep a track of the progress. We use an online client portal to help our customers keep a track of their granny flat progress – they can see what is being done 24/7, from anywhere. The portal helps us to maintain an open and transparent line of communication with our clients at all times and enables them to see the milestones.

6. Handover:

The final step is getting the keys for your new granny flat. Now you will have to check if the workmanship is acceptable, the quality of finishes and if there are any issues. Most builders will have a after-sales process that will cover any minor repairs.


We work with you to build you a superior quality granny flat that is built to your budget, on time and defect free. Our clients get to stay informed every step of the way and can sleep well at night knowing that they are being looked after by professionals who genuinely care.


Copyright All Rights Reserved © 2015 Swan River Construction Pty Ltd

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