On the dotted line….

On Thursday, we signed the contact for our Canterbury 44! We are very excited to reach this milestone and start to close out the planning phase of our build.

I thought I’d put down a few thoughts about the contract process for those that may be interested, as there is quite a bit of information to get your head around, and typically in a relatively short period of time.

The contract signing process was relatively straight forward, although some discrepancies between the tender documentation and the contact meant a minor delay as it was addressed.  A number of changes applied during tender were not reflected in the final documentation.  The necessary fixes were identified and will be managed through a contract variation.  A small hiccup. Anyway onto the contract.

The document is broken into a number of parts:

HIA Standard Contract

A relatively straightforward, “plain english” document; easy to read and understand.  It details all the key information including time to completion, contract price, payment schedule, Prime and/or Provisional items (of which we had none), special conditions, excluded items, main obligations of parties, dispute handling, penalties if obligations are missed. Carlisle had made some minor customisations to the standard HIA contract, but nothing of concern for us.

Contract TEnder

This part details pricing including standard inclusions, promotional items, site and slab costs as well as all additions made on behalf of the owner or due to council / energy code requirements. The main difference between this version and the one provided at tender was that this was the first time we were presented with the 6 star energy rating costs.

Colour Selection

This part details complete colour, fitting & tiling selections.  As there were a couple of changes made at tender, our colour selection had been updated, but most of the time this should not vary between appointments.

Site Survey & Investigation

A copy of the first site survey & investigation. We had requested this information earlier in the planning process so there was nothing new here for us.

Contract specifications

This is a rather detailed section that describes standards of workmanship, tolerances, definitions of defects and important construction & maintenance information.  Although fairly dry, I would highly recommend a good read through.  For me, there was some education in terms of the “mechanics” of the build and the allowable tolerances, e.g. permissible floor level variance of the slab over a specific distance.  I can see that this section is one that I will refer to frequently during the build and post-build.

Foundation and Slab information

This section provides information on the slab (in our case a waffle slab) as well as performance and maintenance advice

key legal builder information

This includes copies of the WorkCover certificate of currency, insurance and building registration


The fun bit.  This section contains all the site, building (floor and elevation) & electrical plans.  Plenty to pour over here as you visualise the future home!

So all-in-all a meaty document – ours was about 2cm thick.  It took me a good couple of days to get through it. However, I cannot recommend enough that you invest the time and digest it to understand and be informed on what is likely to be one of the biggest investments in your life.  We received our document the night before our appointment; this was simply not enough time, so we had to come back for a second appointment. Ensure that you request sufficient lead time prior to your appointment.


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