Common problems and mistakes people make when building a new house or renovation

Having run a successful residential building company for over 27 years, I still love the whole building process and truly believe that designing and building a new home should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of your life.  However, building a new home or renovation is a complex challenging process with numerous possible problems or pitfalls that can derail the project and cause significant stress for everyone involved.

Our mission at DDB Design is to make building a new house an enjoyable experience.  This is only possible if the client is fully aware of the whole building process and avoids making any of the following mistakes.  All these mistakes and the problems they cause for the property owners can easily be avoided by using a builder that has well established and proven processes and excellent information, documentation and communication.

Having done this process hundreds of times, I now realize that most of these mistakes and problems stem from the same two sources.

  1. The clients do not educate themselves sufficiently

  2. The clients do not have a reputable builder involved in the process from the start.


Other common mistakes are:

  1. Not preparing a properly “design brief”.

  2. Not choosing the right architect for their specific project.

  3. Not fully budgeting for the whole project.

  4. Not taking sufficient time and consideration with each “concept design” presented by the architect.

  5. Not engaging a landscape designer early enough.

  6. Not engaging a pool builder early enough.

  7. Having too many prime cost (P.C.) items in the contract.

  8. Using the wrong building contract for their project.

  9. Not fully understanding the plans.

  10. Not knowing what they want until they see it.

  11. Not having regular detailed site meetings throughout the building process.

  12. Not having a detailed timeline or project schedule

  13. Not engaging expert consultants when needed.

  14. Not keeping all notes, emails and documents filed, organized and up to date.

  15. Not giving the electrical plan sufficient attention and detail.

  16. Not organizing all Council permits ahead of time.

  17. Not organizing the connection of new services ahead of time.

  18. Not fully trusting their builder or architect.


The above mistakes can cause the following problems for the clients:

  1. Their budget will not be in-line with their expectations.

  2. They may experience budget blowouts as the project progresses.

  3. They will have numerous variations to deal with during the building process.

  4. They may have significant time delays.

  5. They may have trouble with the bank financing the project and processing progress claim invoices.

  6. They can experience poor communication with the builder and architect.

  7. They will find it very difficult to deal with their local Council.

  8. They may have difficulty negotiating with their neighbors especially when trying to organize the “protection works” agreement.

  9. They experience stress building up during the design + building process.

  10. They do not enjoy the whole process, and this may also affect the way they feel about the finished home and their ongoing enjoyment of the property into the future.

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