Think like a Builder. Act like a Builder. - Owner Builder Club

Think like a Builder. Act like a Builder.

Benefits of being an owner builder

Planning your build.

This Q&A in our series ‘Think like a builder. Act like a builder' with Neil is LONG overdue and that's our fault 🙁

However, it's here and we're still intent on getting you to think and act like a builder! There's a question in here that screams why it's super important for you to do so…

An important note – we're continually told that ALL builds are different so please keep this in mind 🙂

How should an Owner Builder approach the actual build?

Start the planning process by first understanding the sequence of build.

I also recommend using a simple Excel Gantt chart.

When you’ve got plans, quotes, building permit, insurances and the set-out and excavation has been done, it will be the concreter who will kick start the build process.

You need to lock in a start date with your concreter and confirm the expected timeframe for completion. A concreter usually has the site to himself for around 2 weeks.

Once you enter the dates into your Gantt chart, follow the sequence of build to organise the rest of the trades as well as order materials.

TIP:      Make getting an approximate start date and how long a job will take part of your quotation process. It may help your decision as to who to go with.

As a guide, under a normal builder scenario, an average home (250sqm) can take 20 weeks (actual build time). Although the actual contract with a builder is usually 12 months (to allow for issues a long the way).

– Get the sequence of build including a ‘done for you' Gantt Chart HERE

What are some tips for managing the build?

Include every stage in the Gantt chart and adjust it when things don’t go to plan.

  1. Be prepared for contingencies. If it rains, adjust it. If the electrician can’t make it when he says, look at other ways to be productive with time.
  2. Make sure you know when materials need to be delivered to site ready for the trade. Also confirm delivery of materials a few days before the delivery date.
  3. Record as much as you can on the Gantt chart. It will make your life so much simpler.
  4. Keep a list of your contacts in a book/online or as a part of the Gantt chart.
  5. Plan, plan and plan – it will help set yourself up to do the job well.

It’s worth an owner builder asking themselves – How do I want to tackle it my build? How much detail do I want in the Gantt chart?

Can you tell us more about the materials list?

As a builder, when I quote, I have to quote on materials so I end up with a list of all the materials.

When you’re doing it for the 1st time and as an owner builder, every item to cost the job (and get a material list) comes from the plan and the specifications.

There will be items that are easier to work out.

For example, any pre-manufactured products like windows, wall frames, truss roof, concrete slab and roof material – the owner builder can send the plan to these suppliers for a quote and they will do the work for them.

However, if building a frame from scratch, you have to allow for every stick of timber in the frame as well as plates, studs, window and door trimmers etc. It’s usually a more expensive way of doing it and there’s the labour on top of it.

Buying in an already manufactured product can work out cheaper. Speed is the essence when building a frame. It usually takes 1 day for a premade frame to go up and then 2 days for the truss roof to go on. This is versus 2 weeks at a minimum for a timber frame from scratch.

A few tips on ordering:

  1. If putting together a materials list is overwhelming, ask your carpenter for help.
  2. Be aware that windows can take 4 to 5 weeks (or longer) for manufacturing time. You need to get quotes in for windows and order them because when the frame goes up and the roof goes on you need your windows.
  3. Reconfirm delivery dates of materials a few days before they’re due. This will help avoid or manage any issues.
  4. Keep in mind, if materials are delivered too early, you run the risk of them getting pinched, if they’re delivered too late then you lose time on other works.

Again, use the Gantt chart to keep you on track. The more detail in the Gantt chart the better.

Why do you think some builders don’t like owner builders?

Predominantly, it’s because they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s very hard to get a decision out of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

For example, when it comes to getting quotes, an owner builder needs to know at that point what they want quoted on.

It’s annoying to trades when owner builder’s come in the middle of a build and say I want this or I didn’t know about that. The details should have been in the quote. Owner builders need to have as much information as possible to pass onto contractors.

And final words of wisdom from Neil…

If an owner builder goes through the planning stage correctly, there’s no reason why they can’t build something they really want and at a price less than going to a builder.

And that's our 2nd interview with Neil nailed!

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