Owner Building Step 1: Realising that Owner Building is a Real Option
In the introduction to our 10 part series on being a successful owner builder we outlined some of the benefits of choosing to be an owner builder. From quality control to cost savings to satisfaction of a job well done, the theme of this edition is plain and simple: “You can do it. You really can.”
No tools required.
A great deal of the Australians who choose to be owner builders are involved somehow in the trades, have extensive experience with DIY and home improvements or are in middle or upper management level organisations with the ability to drive a team of people to a chosen outcome. Make no bones about it, the more you possess these qualities the simpler it will be. Notice I didn’t say easy.
But with the right attitude, a willingness to learn, and good management skills, it’s possible to owner build without driving a single nail. After all, if you hire a building contractor to project manage the site, he’ll be doing the same thing as you. namely hiring a set of capable tradies to do all the actual construction work.
See what you’re working with.
Once you’ve made the decision to build, extend, or remodel, the first thing you need to do is get plans drawn up for your project. You can do a rough sketch yourself, but for major projects you’ll need to hire a professional drafts person or architect.
Use the plans to get estimates from several building contractors. Even if you’re 100% gung-ho on owner building, it’s a good idea to find out what it would cost to hire a professional simply for cost comparison.
What moves you?
Plans and quotes in hand, you now have some ammunition to analyse whether or not owner building is worth your while. Be conservative when looking at financial savings, especially if this is your first build. There is a learning curve and inexperienced owner builders can’t expect to trim the same percentage as someone who’s built several properties.
But cost cutting hardly tells the whole story of owner building. Many home-owners are attracted to the idea of having full control over their project, and one of the biggest advantages of being an owner builder is having the ability to make changes on the fly without having to renegotiate variations with your contractor at every turn.
It’s important at this stage to be honest with yourself. If the idea of owner building is purely finance-based, then fair enough. But if you feel passionate about wanting to build your own home, or you want to achieve something outside of your normal day to day work, maybe you want to tell your friends, ‘I created something with my own hands’, you may have the right motivations so move on to the next step.
Prepare for the long haul.
Building your own home is incredibly satisfying, but it’s much more time consuming than you can imagine. Prepare yourself mentally for the road ahead, you might not know what a weekend feels like for quite a while.
Plan on spending as much time on site as possible. Don’t learn the hard way that subcontractors need your input if you want the final product to appear just how you envisaged.
Now is also the time to think about insurance. It’s cheaper to purchase building and liability insurances before slab has been poured. Give us a call and we’ll help you run through all of the coverage that you’ll need to stay protected.
A legitimate Plan B
You can still reap some of the benefits of being an owner builder even if you don’t feel you’ve got the time and know-how to manage your home build from start to finish. Ask contractors to quote on building to lock-up. Lock-up is the stage when the doors and windows have been installed.
Take over from there by managing all of the finish work. This is when more tasks are DIY-able and with all of the complex infrastructure out of the way there’s far less of a learning curve.
The bottom line.
Every year over 40,000 Australians decide to manage their own building projects. If they can do it, you can do it, too! The first step towards becoming a successful owner builder is making that realisation that it is a legitimate option.
Next Post: Overcoming the Challenges of Owner Build Financing