Th Real Cost of Renovation: Builders Supervision

Builder supervision on renovation projects

Following on from our last post “The Real Cost of Renovations: Plans and Engineering” where we discussed planning and engineering costs, a builder is now required. The builders role in any construction is wide and varying. Primarily they are a legal requirement in any construction valued at more than a few thousand dollars and their roles vary from liaisons with relevant authorities to the on ground onsite activity. The builders ultimate responsibility is to insure everything is done to standard. For the purpose of this discussion and in alliance with modern trends the builder will be distinguished here from their relevant counterpart carpentry. To a greater extent the later is minimal in this type of work with trends to subcontractors and subcontract teams becoming more common place for all trades including the builders own.

Builders Supervision

Prior to submitting your council application, or around this time, a builder is required to be engaged. Depending on your confidence in talking with an architect and  engineering companies your builder may come first or after these two. That is you could employ your builder first and they will guide you through the planning and engineering or take it to this or any point along the way as you feel comfortable.

The builder will in their capacity fill their role as the principle contractor. Regardless of the builders physical involvement with the vary components of the work to be performed, they will supervise and play a key role in the building compliance. Providing the portal for all the subcontractors engaged on the project to liaison with the relevant engineers, the owner and council as required. Its there position to supervise all work performed as they deem necessary to provide warranty and assurance that all onsite work has been performed to specification, and to relevant building codes and standards. Making decisions where necessary for the work to be performed.

Price Guide $2000 – $10 000

The Real Costs of Renovation: Plans and Engineering

Old home deteriorating

Is it worth it and how much is it going to cost are probably the first questions that come to mind when anyone’s starts to consider renovating, repairing or upgrading their home.

The first is easy the answer will be yes in almost every case. Renovating old timber homes can be a lot of hard work however due to the amount of work and the costs of replacement in an old timber frame home the value and the reward is present in almost every case. The average replacement cost for a simple timber frame home is around $200k-$300k and well over $400k to reproduce an old Queenslander. The longer its left or the worse it becomes ultimately the more will need to be done to fix it. However rarely is a timber frame home demolished as there is always someone that can see their worth, and either relocates and rebuilds them, or buys or renovates where is.

The costs vary greatly between project to project in the extent of the works you are to perform. For a clear understanding of this is it is important to know what your going to do and preferably understand it. Renovations repairs and building maintenance are widely confused even among the professionals so take some time to consider your options. If its a repair you are doing sometimes its better left at that.

It may be better to fix something to the best it can be than to uncover or expose worsening and deteriorating other potential issues. An example of this could be a stump that is intricate position. It could be by digging it out you will undermine other footings, concrete floors or deteriorate the surrounding foundations in the removal process. In this case it may be better to do some repairs and address it at a later date especially if the construction is sound surrounding it.

Planning is key to your success as in any venture. Scope the extent of your project and plan it out carefully. Time is not the enemy here the longer you take to plan it, think about it, map it out to the point of action the better your end result will be.

Plans and Planning

Costs vary, depending widely on the scope of what you are about to undertake. That is in a renovation sense you need to set some limits or more so have a plan of what you want to achieve. It can be a bottomless pit if you don’t consider what you want to achieve and its practicality. The costs of the plans will vary accordingly to the complexity of your building and what you want to do to it. The smaller the task and the simpler the building then the cheaper the plans will be. In any case the value of these plans from the start is priceless in this activity. It gives everything and everyone a clear path forward. It provides no discrepancies within contracted workers builders and the other facets, and they are ultimately compulsory for council approvals.

Price Guide – $800 – $3000 A low set house undertaking a re-stump would only require a stump and bearer plan and therefore at the low end of this. A high set house with a build in on the ground floor would be at the higher end.

Engineering and Compliance

When a home or house is built, renovated or repaired the first and foremost consideration is the foundations. For those that are not building term savvy the term foundations is the soil or ground on or in which you will put footings. The footings are the part of the structure or house in contact with the ground the timber posts or poured concrete. Soil tests are performed to determine what the footing construction will require and how it is to be braced. Essentially setting the scene into the variants in the mayor costs in restumping. Once the engineering has been performed and the engineer has produced specifications the project is submitted to the council for approval and monitored for compliance to completion.

Price Guide – $2000 – $5000 Council approval, plans and basic engineering is all that is required for a simple low set re-stump or footing variation on the low end of the scale. And full building engineering and certification for a build in, structural upgrade or re-stump as required for high set would represent the higher end.



Restumping using Concrete Stumps

Concrete stumps are a great choice for a house. There are certain considerations that need to be met in the areas of central QLD and North. High wind and high water tables are probably among the more important. Concrete stumps in today’s day are made from very strong steel reinforced concrete. It hasn’t always been that way. Most of the early concrete stumps were made from local materials. The builder would more often than not build his own. Some form boxes, local sand and rock out of the creek, scrap steel for reinforcement and dry cement powder and water. Manufacturing the stumps locally and in many cases on site made them an easily achievable long lasting option for stumps.

Either way they have stood the test of time. Although their weight makes them an expensive choice, as with timber the can be used were a certain look or style is sought.

Concrete stumps can have a very long life provided some considerations are met. The stumps are very strong and robust however excessive force is exerted on them if they are not installed properly or later works is done.

Concreting around concrete stumps

Concrete stumps like timber are direct in the ground with another bell of concrete at the bottom. The bell at the bottom is usually around double the diameter of the stump. It serves as a base that stops the stump from sinking or lifting. This allow’s for some minute sideways movement of the building without excessive force being absorbed by the stump.

A common mistake made when concreting under a high set house with concrete stumps is to concrete the floor right up to the stump. This restricts the sideways movement of the stump. Strong gale force winds battering at the side of the house put pressure on the stump at the point where it is fixed by the concrete slab. This is easily overcome by expansion material in a control joint. Flexible products installed between the slab and the stump to allow for this movement. This expansion material, foam jointing and flexible polyurethane products within the control joint act as a shock absorber for your stumps.

Bracing is a critical component in this type of construction to limit and reduce the buildings lateral movement and the associated issues discussed.

Typical Concrete Stump Installation
Typical Concrete Stump Installation

Stump care

As with all foundations the stumps need to be kept clean and dry. The entire underside of your building should be as dry as possible and kept well drain. Concrete stumps will benefit from regular maintenance and a coat of paint or sealer at times.

Restumping using Timber Stumps

Timber stumps are not as popular as they have been in past times but they are making a come back in many ways. Transitioning from logging hardwoods to make the stumps to using farmed timber their popularity has decreased. Prone to rot and having a limited life timber has become more expensive. Whereas once a budget choice their quality’s shine in other areas. Timber stumps are now more expensive for the material purchase but easier and therefore less expensive to install. More so their value is in the ease to do them one or more at a time. The quality of the timber and its preservation are becoming a lot better. Whereas they can have a limited life they can be replaced singularly or one by one, without excessive expense. The combination of usability, the timber quality and treatments has revived its place.


Timber stump’s can be used anywhere however are well suited to particular application. This could be a feature row of stumps. Where the rest or the internal stumps are concrete or steel and a feature row on the outside of the house are used to match fencing or other aesthetic’s. Timber provides a nice rounded finish when the stumps are left exposed to view in particular where there are other timber finishes.


Timber also provides a very good way forward for ongoing maintenance on your building. Whereas steel or concrete stumps are usually done in large sections if not the whole house due to heavy expensive deliveries of materials concrete in particular.  Timber stumps can be replaced piecemeal. Although it is slightly more expensive to do one or two at a time the building is constantly maintained at an affordable and manageable level. It can be quite a shock when the stump replacement costs bear to reality and therefore for ongoing maintenance they can be a great choice. And a clear choice for low to mid set buildings with lower ongoing maintenance budgets.

Restumping using Steel Stumps

Steel stumps are by far the most popular stump choice. They are favored by engineers and builders alike  for a number of reasons. Easy to work, readily available, strong durable and provided they are treated properly steel stumps are long lasting. In many cases the stumps are later enclosed within walls, with the help of support beams to remove some of the internal posts the area under the house is built in. In this case the stumps themselves disappear from site completely being enclosed within wall framing.

Steel stumps can be engineered and fitted to your house in different ways. The two more common place methods in discussion here differ mainly in the way they brace the building. If you were to compare them to something else structural like a car for instance. You could say one method is similar to a chassis with a body mounted to it. The other more like the modern car is a framework braced onto itself. As with everything efficiency in construction, cost of material etc has made way for new and better ways to support your building.

Stumping with bracing

The first method and more commonly used today for many reasons is a  steel stump footed by a dense concrete footing.  For a high set building the building is fitted with significant wind bracing between the stumps. This holds the understorey of the building from movement by bracing the posts onto each other in critical locations. This bracing is usually replaced when the building is built in. The walls are built and provide the necessary bracing in different ways.

Restumping steel stumps with bracing
Restumping steel stumps with bracing


Stumping with less bracing

The second method of choice is a deep reinforced footing or pier with the stump bolted between it and the building. This method uses significant materials as there is little or no bracing used. The piers or deep footing are generally 2- 3 times deeper and the stumps up to double in size. In both cases there is approx double the materials used. This method draws it strength from the deep piers and stump engineering to take the sideways force thus reducing the building overall bracing requirements.

Steel stump bolted to footing
Steel stump bolted to footing