Licenced Builder and Carpenter and Are Happy to Help

Hi my name is Andrew.

I live in Sydney, Licensed Builder and Carpenter.

I have been in the building industry for 30 years and I am more than happy to give my opinion on anything Building related.

Comments

  • -1 vote
    • +3 votes

      Did you read the thread?

    •  

      Haha I was just going to link this also.

      @AdoDowd, I just had a go at answering the above question. I suggested either 1) backing rod + gap filler or 2) joint compound + fibreglass mesh tape

      Which option is better?


      Also, I have a separate question… Hoping to get your help or advice.

      I'm looking to create a floating study table. This is the process I'm looking to follow:

      1. Locate studs in wall
      2. Attach a 2x4 plank of timber along the wall
      3. Attach some sort of flange/pipe system From the newly installed 2x4, protruding out
      4. Rest the timber study table (110cm38cm2.5cm), on the pipes, and securing it in pace using "ohm" shaped brackets

      Can you please suggest if that will be secure? Recommend a better way to do it? Recommend the correct type of screw to handle so much weight, screwing timber 2x4 into wall stud.

      Thanks

  •  

    The previous owner of my house made a new doorway between two of its rooms. I'd like to get rid of this doorway (i.e. restore it to a plain wall) - is this a DIY-able task? Or if I was to pay for someone to do it, how much do you reckon is reasonable?

    Door is a standard size, wall is plasterboard with wood studs.

    • +1 vote

      I'm not the OP nor a builder but you can DIY this pretty easily if you have the tools. It's fairly simple to remove a door and the frame put in another few studs and then fix the plasterboard to it. The tricky part will be making the joints between the new piece of plasterboard and the existing wall look like there was never a door there.

      YouTube is your friend, watch lots of videos.

    • +1 vote

      I think if you found a decent carpenter he could do it all for under $1000. Labour is the dearest part.

      Cheap labour is not good and good labour is not cheap

  • +2 votes

    OP, as builders can't go out of site to do your trade (your profile says Sydney), what do you do in the meantime? Besides post on OzBargain?

    Sorry, I thought this was an AMA :D

    •  

      I am a Supervisor for a large Insurance builder and I provide desk top quotes for storm damaged properties all over Australia. I completed about 60 just last week.

    •  

      depending on stage of restrictions but generally those in manual labour cannot work in full lockdown unless essential workers. There are some exemptions such as in SA our first lockdown all building work continued, 2nd lockdown none (only 2 business days) and this third week long lockdown government major infrastructure projects started up 2 days early.

  •  

    is it worth upgrading to steel battens for plaster ceiling work for a new home build?

    • +2 votes

      Yes to avoid termites and sagging ceilings in the future

  • +2 votes

    Single, double or triple glazing for windows?

    •  

      What sort of noise are you trying to silence?

      •  

        Entropy. What's best for noise?

    • +1 vote

      Double for unless you're in Alpine areas.

      •  

        So, my single glazed windows in my uninsulated alpine house are suitable?
        Sounds like something my real estate agent would say.

        •  

          Use your common sense.

          Triple required if you're in alpine area.

  • +1 vote

    My house built in the 1950s seems to let too much air in. Feels like it's coming in through the window frames and walls (brick veneer and timber walls). Is there anything I can do myself to insulate the house better?

    •  

      Is there any wall insulation?

      •  

        None that I'm aware of. I just need to stand next to the closed bedroom windows (its height is almost ceiling to floor) and still feel a draught.

  •  

    How many times has a family member or friend asked you to do a complex time intensive job for a slab of beer?

    • +1 vote

      Lol, I don't drink, but quite regularly

  •  

    Thanks for providing advice to everyone. It is hard to fine independent help!

    The 4 irrigation tanks (750L each) at the side of my garage have started to lean dangerously towards my neighbors house, and they are worried that the weight will make them tip over and spill into their basement window. The concrete slab below the tanks has shifted, causing the problem. A plumber came and quoted $9k to remove the tanks and put in a charged stormwater system. I don't need to keep the irrigation tanks, but I think $9k to solve this problem is crazy expensive. What sort of a tradesperson should i contact to get advice? My pool guy suggested that maybe I should contact an HVAC person to quote on rebuilding the slab, or hang around Reece and ask someone there for advice.

    • +1 vote

      Remove the tanks and put a sand base in instead

      •  

        Empty the tanks. Underpin the slab. Then you can leave everything in place.

  •  

    Hi OP thanks for doing this, I am planning to remove the plaster walls in my rooms to insulate them properly (now is nothing in there that is super hot/cold all over the year), anything I need to be cautious about the townhouse neighboring wall?

    • +1 vote

      Yes this should be fire rated for one thing.

      What are fire rated boundary walls?

      To contain and prevent fires from spreading, fire-rated boundary walls are required for buildings which are adjacently constructed – either within a minimum distance from the buildings’ boundary or on the boundary itself.

      If you are personally planning to develop your own home or building, whether for commercial or residential use, it is advisable to speak first to your local council about the necessary fire rating. They can ensure you have all the information you require beforehand.

      For further safety purposes, it’s also best to ask your architect and builder for their advice or expectations around the need to fire rate your building’s boundary walls.

      Why are fire rated boundary walls important?

      The Building Code of Australia (BCA), a performance-based code published by the Australian Building Codes Board, provides fire performance requirements for the construction of buildings in Australia.

      Part 3.7 of BCA Volume 2 covers the requirements for fire safety of Class 1 and 10 buildings, which are typically standalone single dwellings or townhouses, row houses or terraces.

      On the other hand, all other building classes including multi-residential and commercial buildings are tackled in the BCA Volume 1 which refers to the following requirements:

      Systems must provide protection from the spread of fire (wherever required by the building class and/or boundary setback)Provide an FRL of not less than 30/–/–Be of non-combustible construction if type A & type B construction as defined by the BCA is required. Type C construction may be combustible i.e. timber framingSystems providing vertical or lateral support to other fire-rated elements must have equivalent or greater FRLSystems must meet BCA C1 – fire resistance and stabilitySystems must meet BCA C2 – compartmentalisation and separationSystems must meet BCA C3 – protection of openings

      For residential buildings located in bushfire areas, AS 3959-2009 Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas emphasise these requirements:

      Applicable to class 1 & class 10 buildings in designated bushfire prone areasMaterials and systems to meet Australian Standard and State Bushfire Authority construction and performance requirementsBAL (Bushfire Attack Level) classification range is applied to each area of:BAL-LowBAL 12.5BAL 19BAL 29BAL 40BAL-FZ (flame zone)

      What does this all mean?

      An understanding of these fire safety regulations enables you to understand the need to integrate fire rated boundary walls at the early design stage of your building to prevent non-compliance and potential danger in the future.

      As such, installing fire-rated boundary walls in buildings is important because they allow occupants to safeguard themselves from injury by avoiding the spread of fire. These walls also ensure that other properties are protected from structural and physical damage caused by fire.

      How to fire rate boundary walls

      Construction manufacturers have a wide range of fire-rated solutions that equip builders with the ability to comply with BCA requirements – such as CSR’s Gyprock.

      In fact, in terms of Class 1 and 10 buildings, Gyprock has developed Boundary Wall Systems suitable for use where a building is within 900m of the allotment boundary or within 1800m of a residence on an adjacent allotment.

      Gyprock also offers fire performance solutions like StrataWall™, Shaft Wall, Cinema Wall and SecurityWall™ for Class 2 to 9 buildings that include multi-residential and commercial developments.

  •  

    Is it worth it to put eaves on for a new build? I am building atm and I am being quoted around $110/lineal meter for 600mm eaves.

    • +6 votes

      Yes 100%

      Eaves were developed for a reason and the reason why house with no eaves leack is due to the gutters overflowing back into the property.
      Eaves were designed to be 450 -600 wide to hide the summer heat from entering when the sun is high and in winter when the sun is more north, allow the heat to enter the property.

  • +1 vote

    Welcome Andrew, and thanks for sharing your professional opinion. Don't have any questions yet but will keep you in mind 🙂

    •  

      No problem

  •  

    No AMA for "L" They all post and go into hiding.

  •  

    Flooded

  •  

    Can you please give some advice on how to improve ventilation in a home where the garage was converted to a rumpus room and has a tendency to build mould. The windows are sealed which doesn’t help. Some of the upper rooms get mouldy in the cupboards.

    • +4 votes

      Garages are classified as a class 10 building and are not meant to be habitable. The slab or floor is probably too close to the ground and does not have required step up. There is probably no plastic membrane under the slab and no insulation in the roof space which can cause the ceilings to sag as the insulation soaks up condensation in the roof cavity and without it, the glue can fail and cause sagging.
      Sounds like there is too much moisture in the air and you need ventilation to combat that.
      Remember mould is the next asbestos.
      Contact your insurance company and request a builder to attend who will provide all recommendations and you can have the mould removed by a restoration company… all for free. You do not pay for anything unless its claim that goes ahead. Your insurer provides these services to prevent further damages to your home

      •  

        Thank you

  •  

    Thank you for the opportunity.

    How comfortable would you feel about using timber screws (45mm ish) to secure new nailplates into a mid 90's roof truss where some of the plates had started to peel away/walk out?

    Engineering report on the place said the roof truss webs having a few loose nail plates meant the webs have shifted, attributing it to poor roof maintenance (moisture infiltration and temperature variations). No signs of subsidence across the house and whirly birds/soffit vents have now been installed. Tile roof, no solar panels. Believe trusses were assembled offsite, fairly generic pre-fab. None of the cornices are sagging or have any unusual cracks (a handful have them at the corner joins, a small section in the laundry has a gap between the cornice and wall). A builder quoted just under 10k to secure new nailplates, someone else (different qualifications) said we were getting done for what was a few hours work and to simply screw new nailplates in (with bigger teeth).

    Your opinion is most welcome. Aware of an issue where some nailplates manufactured 1970-97 used faulty nail plates and a few of those rooves have collapsed.

    • +2 votes

      Not comfortable at all.

      Use pryda nails which have sheer strength which screws dont have. Better to engage an Engineer to inspect if its structural components of your property

  •  

    Is this the small gap in between the tiles and ceiling in the bathroom something I should be concerned about?

    • +1 vote

      On the left on the nottom of the cornice there appears to be water staining. You may have a roof leak. It appears to cornice was installed after the tiles and there is no cement at the bottom of the cornice. Something a little gap filler can fix but check the cornice thoroughly for any water damage. Notice the difference in colour?

  •  

    Hey,

    How did you get to the position you're in now?

    • +1 vote

      Started as a labourer on a commercial building site, got my trade, completed cert 4 in Building and today I spend a lot of time reading N.C.C and various standards to gain knowledge.

  •  

    OP, do you know how much should we expect to pay to build a built in wardrobe in a 3 X 3m bedroom?

    Thank you for your help.

    •  

      About 900 - 1200 depending on drawers and other internal components you require.

      •  

        Thank you for the answer. And may I know how long would it take? Could you please PM your email if you don't mind me asking further details? Thank you :)

  •  

    Hi OP,

    In currently looking to renovate my house, it's a ~60 year old single habitable floor house on a sidewards sloping land. I say single habitable floor as all the rooms, living, dining, kitchen are on ground floor but we have a garage in a basement on the side which is downward sloping.

    It is worth to completely knock down the house, level it a bit and rebuild vs knockdown only the ground floor (keeping existing garage) and build on top. I'd like to do a double story house on it but given council rules the first floor can only be on the other side of garage due to max building height restrictions. Are the savings in partial knockdown worth it?

    • +1 vote

      Honestly, knock it down and start again. It will work out about the same price and you will have all new electrical and plumbing plus everything else. Some renos cost more due to the unforeseen issues you find once you start pulling the house apart and as it unforeseen, variations at your expense.

      •  

        Thank you, makes sense

  •  

    Welcome Andrew.

    I have two questions.

    1. Our home in northwest Sydney doesn't have wall insulation. There was no ceiling insulation as well. Which I am doing at the moment. Is it worth doing blow in insulation to only exterior wall? I am a bit concerned because of the cost, method and its effectiveness.

    2. We have a double garage with a pillar in the middle. It is very inconvenient. How complex is to remove the pillar in the middle? As far as I know the pillar and two lintels are just supporting the brickwork. The roof is supported by the wood frame.
      Any estimate on the cost to do this modification?

    Ta.

    • +1 vote

      Blow in insulation to external wall? How? Is it brick veneer and you want to fill the cavity? If so, don't. Cavities are there for a reason, to let water out if it enters at openings. If it is timber framed, there is no way to fill the cavity. Best to remove plasterboard and install batts and resheet..

      •  

        Thanks. Yes it is brick veneer wall. Generally the insulation companies will drill a hole on the wall and pump the insulation to each cavity. I checked with one guy for the option you suggested. He said, it is not better spend that money on HVAC bill.

        Any input on the second part of my question?

        •  

          Double garage? Just need a bigger i beam or c channel, need an engineer to design something like that it will be taking a heavy load

  •  

    Do you think carpentry is a good choice for someone in their 40s to make a career move into?
    What would be the steps one would have to take (and what would they roughly make money wise)?

    • +1 vote

      Just like all trades, they are dying. Carpenters get great money these days due to the lack of young kids becoming them. I am sure because you are of mature age, you can do it at night. Don't become a framer, work for a builder where you learn from the setting out of the site to handover. A good Carpenter can do any trades work or at least have a general knowledge of what to do and the make the best builders.

  •  

    Im wanting to replace the ceiling in our small bathroom and replace the skylight in there ( flaking paint and cracks around skylight) and replace the skylight, any ideas how much this is likely to cost ?

    •  

      Sounds like you have moisture or condensation issues if the paint is flaking. It all depends on the size. Could be about $2000 once you allow for a new skylight, ceiling replacement and to be painted. There will also be the electrical fixtures to the ceiling.

  •  

    With all of the storm related work you are doing, and the recent cyclonic winds hitting further south in WA, I think that homes may be getting hit with higher storm forces in future.
    Are there simple extra things a handy owner can do either during or after a build to minimise storm damage?

  •  

    Hello OP,
    in regards to building a new home roof tiles or colourbond?

    •  

      Metal is cheaper, concrete more expensive then terracotta more expensive again. Are you wanting to replace an existing roof? If you go from tile to metal, it will be more costs again due to tie down requirements. Batten spacing is greater than tiles. Modern homes look better with metal.
      Colour has no limits with metal.
      Tiles need more maintenance
      Metal is better for insulation.
      Look at the houses around you and see what they have.

      •  

        tiles have more longevity, better sound proofing

  •  

    Hi Andrew,

    Not sure if its in your expertise, but we have a soft spot on our new floating floorboards (old hardwood floor underneath, likely warped), any ideas of a fix or do we need to pull them out? One of the floorboards seems to be wearing out from bending every time we walk on it.

    Thanks

    •  

      Send me a close up photo and room width.
      Is there underlay below it? If so what sort.

      •  

        Thanks Andrew, can you enable private messaging and I'll send some pictures.

        If I recall correctly the floating floorboards had black foam attached to it, not sure if extra was put down during installation. Hard to visually see any issues, but you can feel with your feet now since its slightly cracked from bending (not cracked on the grooves/joints but towards the center).

        •  

          Not sure how, email [email protected]

        • +3 votes

          Hi Kevin,

           

          It appears that there could be an issue with the sub floor preparation.

          Is it a Hybrid floor? Looks like it.

          Floating flooring requires a flat and an even sub-floor for its proper installation. If you install over an uneven sub-floor, with it being generally thin, any imperfections on the sub-floor may telegraph to the flooring and may even cause those soft spots to happen. In an uneven sub-floor, whether it be concrete or wood sheet, soft spots or the spongy areas of the laminate can happen in areas where the laminate is hanging flat while the sub-floor underneath it is dipped or having a low spot, creating an air gap in between them. This can cause the laminate to flex or dip when stepped on.

          On a tongue and groove wood sub-floor, there may be floorboards that are not securely attached to the floor joists that has some movement, or allow a slight give when walked upon. Any floorboards that are creating these movements, if not secured properly before installing the laminate, will telegraph on to the laminate. This can cause the soft spots or spongy areas to happen on the laminate floor where the floorboards underneath moves.

          You’ll know if an uneven sub-floor is the possible cause of the soft spots or spongy areas of your laminate if the laminate flooring is newly installed and one or a combination of the conditions below are true:

          1.      The sub-floor is concrete, OSB, or plywood, and there were some minor dips or low points that were not addressed before the laminate installation.

          2.      The soft spot or spongy area is relatively flat, not bulging or peaking, when not stepped on but flexes and dips down more than other areas of the floor when you step on it.

          3.      The sub-floor is tongue and groove wood and there were floorboards that have some movements in them when walked upon which were not secured properly before the laminate installation.

          1.      Locate where the soft spots are and put down a layer of masking or painter’s tape to protect the surface of the laminate.

          2.      Drill a small hole, on a floor seam, using the 3/32″ drill bit.

          3.      Attach the air inflator needle to the tubing nozzle of the expanding foam spray can.

          4.      Carefully insert the air inflator needle and inject the expanding foam into the small hole until it fills the air gap underneath and the laminate feels properly supported.

          5.      Remove any excess foam and then cover the small hole with duct tape until the foam sets.

          6.      Remove the duct tape and fill the small hole with a matching colour wood putty.

          7.      Repeat this to other soft spots of the laminate.

          This is the fastest method but not necessarily the best as you will have to drill a hole to your laminate and the expanding foam may cause unnecessary bulging if it were applied too much. Make sure to test the expanding foam first, see how it works, so that you’ll have an idea how much to apply and when to stop.

          The second method will require you to remove your laminate flooring partially, where there are dips or low point in your sub-floor. You will then apply a thinset mortar to the low areas of the sub-floor until it levels with the rest. If you have a wood sub-floor, make sure you’re using a thinset mortar designed to be used on woods.

          The third method is for when you have tongue and groove floorboards used as a sub-floor that was not securely fixed. You will also need to remove your laminate flooring partially to access the floorboards. Walk around and look for areas of the sub-floor that has some movements and secure them down to the floor joist with a 2-inch decking screw. You may need to use more than 1 screw to effectively secure it.

          Make sure there are no more floorboard movements when you install back the laminates. And if there are some low points on the floor, you can also apply a thinset mortar on those areas as how it was described in the second method written above.

          An underlay can be a cause of a soft spot or spongy area on your laminate if you’ve used the wrong type or if it was installed incorrectly.

          Only underlays specific for laminate flooring use can be used. Other types, like the ones used for carpets, may be too soft or too thick for laminates which will cause it to feel spongy.

          Using more than one layer of underlay underneath the laminate can also make the flooring too soft and will create unnecessary soft spots and spongy areas on the floor.

          If the underlay was not laid flat or parts of it are overlapping with another part of the underlay, this will cause an uneven base and may also cause soft spots in your laminate.

          If the laminate was newly installed and you are aware that the underlayment used was the wrong type or it was applied incorrectly, then the only solution to this is to redo the whole laminate flooring.

          If there are areas of your laminate that are lifting or seems like it has been filled with an air bubble underneath, and the bulge migrates to another area of the floor when you step on it, it is most likely caused by a lack of expansion gap provided during installation.

          An expansion gap is normally provided where the laminate edge meets the wall. It is also provided where the laminate edge meets the edge of another flooring. The gap is normally covered with a transition strip to keep it looking neat and clean. The expansion gap will allow the laminate to move and naturally contract and expand. Basically, the expansion gap helps it to move and float freely.

          In big rooms or areas where a laminate flooring is to be installed, an expansion gap or joint should also be provided every 8mor as per the manufactures recommendations in both directions of the floor. This helps relieve pressures that would cause the laminate planks from pushing against each other and causing the seams to lift if it were not provided. The spacing of the expansion joints may differ from product to product so you should always refer to the standards of the manufacturer.

          Also, make sure that your laminate flooring is not fixed or nailed down anywhere on the floor as this could prevent it from moving freely and will also cause bubbling or planks peaking. Sometimes, a moulding that has been installed at the edge of the floor may have been nailed to the sub-floor with the laminate, accidentally, getting fixed along with it.

          To fix this, follow where the peaking is happening and go the closest wall. Carefully remove the moulding to reveal the corner where the edge of the laminate floor and the wall meets. Then cut-out the part of the laminate that is pushing against the wall, providing a gap that is around 6mm in between the edge of the laminate and the wall. Check if the bulging gets fixed and then reinstall the moulding back, making sure you do not drive the nail into the laminate. The peaking might not settle right away.

          A squishy and spongy laminate can be caused by water damage. There can be several causes of water damage to laminate flooring which includes mopping the floor with a very wet mop, getting flooded from burst plumbing pipes, and insufficient moisture barrier installed underneath.

          A damaged laminate plank cannot be fixed and the only option is to completely replace it. Once it gets saturated with water, it expands and gets soft, and will no longer be usable as a floor.

          Whichever the cause of the water damage is, you should address it first before you reinstall a new laminate to prevent another water damage from happening again. This can mean fixing a burst plumbing pipe or installing a new moisture barrier.

          If the floor got flooded, it is also best to check the sub-floor and the floor joists. Make sure that they are still in peak conditions and were not compromised.

          Plywood or oriented strand board sheets sub-floors are susceptible to delamination when it gets saturated with water. When they get delaminated, the glue that holds the layers of the sheets together releases which can cause it to swell. The swelling can translate back to the laminate flooring, making it feel soft and spongy.

          Sub-floors and structural members that have been compromised by water damage must be replaced or repaired before you reinstall your laminate flooring. Damages that involve sub-floors and floor joists is recommended that it be checked by a local trade

          •  

            @Adodowd: Hi there, very extensive explanation - much appreciated.

            We recently had laminate floor installed over existing tiles. However, we ended up with 'clicky' / 'popping' noise when we walk on it (not all of them make this noise, but its impacting large enough area for it to be annoying). The noise is definitely caused by a very slight vertical movement at the joints. Long story short the shop, the installer, and the manufacturer have agreed to re-install the floor.

            My question is - what can be done differently this time around to ensure that the floor is installed correctly? We asked our installer multiple times whether the old floor (large format tiles with almost no lippage with 3mm grout joints) need leveling and we were assured that leveling was not required. But vertical movement at the joints indicated otherwise?

            Thanks in advance!

            • +1 vote

              @onepiece: Needs underlay and floor levelling like ardit

              •  

                @Adodowd: Thanks

                For underlay - we were told that it is the standard underlay from the manufacturer (I am sure this manufacturer is quite reputable; I see their brand in almost every flooring shop) and meant to be very good (though it is only 2mm thick with vapor barrier under it). The manufacturer also advised that this is the correct underlay to use. Should I ask them to use a thicker underlay? Although - I am not sure if they actually have anything thicker than 2mm

                As for leveling; would it be necessary to level the entire house? or rather 'spot' leveling is sufficient? or really its a case by case basis? Just want to be sure again as the installer was very sure that the floor was level enough (as per manufacturer's guide). We trusted them as they are local to us with 5 stars google ratings, but after this drama I just want to be sure that our opinion is heard.

                Do you know what Ardex Feather Finish is for? I saw couple of jobs online where installer used them over tiles to help level the tiles?

          •  

            @Adodowd: Thanks Andrew, really appreciate the detailed response!

    •  

      Who ever installed the floorboards did not leave a big enough expansion gap along the walls or did not remove the spacers after the installation was completed. There should be at least 15 mm gap along the walls for expansion.

      •  

        Its not just the walls where expansion is needed. Doorways are another area an some require them at different intervals. Manufacturers recommendations should always be followed.

  •  

    Hi Adodowd - can you give guidance on ducted reverse cycling systems too?

    •  

      As in how or what is required? Should always consult a specialist for that information, like an Air Conditioning technician.

  •  

    Basically was going to ask you if you have better experience with a brand especially with their after sales service and longevity.

    •  

      No sorry

  •  

    Its ok

  •  

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

    What would the best way to 'fix' creaking floorboards? I pulled up the old carpet in our 1950's brick veneer when we moved in so the original floorboards are exposed. The boards are in good condition, no visible gaps, but there are quite a few spots where they creak when walked on. I've given each nail a good bash using a nail punch and that helped a little but not perfect. What else should I try?

  • +1 vote

    Clumb under the house and install blocking between the floor joists. There could also be a bearer or floor joist that may have a gap they may need some type of packing material.

  •  

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this AMA. A family member and I are going to build a duplex in Sydney and am concerned about the increase in cost of building due to the pandemic. Roughly how much more expensive is it to build now compared before the pandemic and do you foresee it significantly dropping within the next year?

    Furthermore, do you have any tips about choosing the right builder? Any red flags to consider?

    Appreciate any advice. Thank you