Key Stages of Construction for new homes in Australia

Navigating the Construction Stages in Australia: A Guide for Homeowners and Investors

Building a home in Australia is an exciting journey, offering the promise of a new space tailored to your preferences and needs. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner, an investor, a devotee of tiny homes, container living, or considering the addition of a granny flat, understanding the construction stages is crucial. These stages not only mark the progress of your build but are also intricately linked to progress payments – a fundamental aspect that financially ties you to the project’s milestones.

The Foundation of Your Project: Understanding Construction Stages

The construction process is typically divided into several key stages. Each represents a critical point of development, which, when completed, signifies that your project is one step closer to realisation. Here’s what you need to know about each stage and how it relates to your financial commitments.

1. Pre-Construction Phase

Key Activities:

  • Finalising designs and plans
  • Obtaining necessary permits and approvals
  • Site preparation and foundation work

A really important note here is that many banks will not lend for a granny flat (for example) until you have acquired the building permit. In QLD, with permits being provided by private certifiers, your builder will be required to go through this process, which takes 6 to 12 weeks, depending up several factors.

Items involves in this stage include:

  1. Soil tests
  2. Site architectural plans
  3. Engineering plans
  4. Engagement of a private certifier
  5. Bushfire reports
  6. Energy efficiency reports
  7. Geotech reports (occasionally)

This initial phase often requires a deposit along with payments for any finalised designs, permits, and the groundwork necessary to prepare for the actual build. It’s essential to have clear contracts and understandings of what each payment covers.

2. Base Stage

Key Activities:

  • Laying the foundation or footings
  • Plumbing and electrical setup begins

Financial Aspect:

The base stage completion is a significant milestone that typically requires a progress payment. This payment often covers the cost of materials and labour involved in establishing a strong foundation for your home. There are generally 2 types of foundations; being either a concrete slab or raised footings. This stage also triggers an inspection by the engineer. The choice will come down to a few factors, 1 of them being if the house is in a flood zone, at which point it will need to be raised on footings.

3. Frame Stage

Key Activities:

  • Construction of the frame
  • Roofing begins

The frame is built from either timbre or steel. Steel is becoming more common, particularly given that a steel kit can be manufactured off-site and installed significantly faster. The engage engineer will also conduct a frame inspection as the frame is completed. The frame stage marks another critical progress point and triggers a payment. This contributes towards the cost of the timber or steel frame and the labor to erect it.

4. Lockup Stage

Key Activities:

  • Installation of external doors and windows
  • The property becomes lockable

Lockup generally assumes that external cladding has also been installed, but some projects deem lockup top be achieved once the building has been wrapped with thermal wrap, such as Ametalin.

Reaching the lockup stage is a significant milestone, usually requiring a larger payment. This is when your home starts to feel secure and sheltered from the elements.

5. Fixing or Interior Fit-out Stage

Key Activities:

  • Installation of internal fixtures and fittings
  • Plumbing and electrical are completed

This stage demands attention to detail and is often the most exciting for homeowners as it involves the elements that make the house feel like a home. Payments made at this point cover the substantial work and materials involved in bringing the interior space together.

6. Practical Completion or Final Stage

Key Activities:

  • Finishing touches
  • Final inspections
  • Obtaining occupancy certificates

This stage may also include the electrical and plumbing connections, such as connection to grid power and connection to sewer etc. The final payment is due upon completion, covering the last touches and any remaining work to ensure the house is ready for occupancy.


Understanding the construction stages and how they relate to progress payments puts you in a better position to manage your project effectively. It fosters a transparent relationship with your builder, ensuring that both parties are on the same page regarding expectations and financial exchanges.

By staying informed and engaged throughout the process, you can help ensure that your home-building experience in Australia is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Whether you’re creating a cozy tiny home, a modern container residence, or adding a granny flat for extended family, knowledge is your best tool in navigating the construction landscape successfully.

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