We're delving into a common consideration many owner builders face during well before their construction journey: the pros and cons of hiring a builder to ‘lockup'?
As an owner builder, you're in charge of coordinating the construction of your dream home, which can be both exciting and daunting. But, during the initial stages of your project, you may wonder whether or not to use a builder to the ‘lockup' phase.
Well, every choice has its pros and cons, and using a builder to lockup is no exception.
As we delve deeper into this subject, we'll expose all the fine details, providing you with a complete understanding of the advantages and disadvantages.
Let's dive in!
Now, you might ask, “What exactly does ‘lockup' mean?” Well, in the construction world, ‘lockup' refers to the stage of a building where your home is secured – think windows, doors, and roof all done, essentially creating a lockable structure.
But as you know, being an owner builder requires a significant investment of time and effort. It requires knowledge of the construction process, good organisational skills, and the ability to manage a team of professionals. These responsibilities can be overwhelming, especially for those with little to no experience in construction management.
This is where the idea of using a builder to lockup comes into play.
Hiring a professional builder for the initial stages of the project can reduce the workload for owner builders. The builder takes care of the foundational work – laying the groundwork, erecting the structure, installing windows and doors, and securing the roof. This phase is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of the project.
Pros of Using a Builder to Lockup
So, you've decided to take on the exciting journey of building your own home. You're prepared to roll up your sleeves and dive into the project, but you're wondering whether hiring a builder for the initial stages might be a good idea.
Let's explore some of the advantages of using a builder to lockup.
Speed and Efficiency
Firstly, let's talk about speed and efficiency. We all know time is money, and in the world of construction, this couldn't be more accurate.
Registered builders come with years of experience and usually a team of skilled workers. They understand the ins and outs of the trade, have established relationships with suppliers, and are adept at troubleshooting common obstacles.
All these factors combined can greatly speed up the process, allowing your project to progress swiftly and smoothly.
Next up is quality assurance. By using a builder to lockup, owner builders can leverage the expertise of seasoned professionals to ensure a strong and secure start to the building project.
There's no denying the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home's structure is in the hands of seasoned experts. Registered builders adhere to industry standards and best practices (well we know not all do but…), ensuring the structural integrity of your home.
- They know what to look out for
- They have the right tools
- They're well-versed in the latest construction techniques
This reduces the risk of costly mistakes or oversights, which can save you a lot of headaches down the road. It allows you to focus on the finer details instead.
Lastly, let's touch on insurance coverage. As an owner builder the buck stops with you which means you need to ensure you're covered for any accidents or damages that might occur during construction.
This could include public liability insurance, personal accident cover, or even home warranty insurance (depending on the state you build in). These types of coverages protect not only you but also any visitors to your site, as well as the property itself.
However, the insurance landscape changes significantly when you bring a professional builder into the equation. Typically, a registered builder will carry their own insurance (you'd want to check it's up-to-date).
This insurance often includes coverage for the work they undertake on your project. As a result, this reduces the number of policies you need to manage as an owner-builder.
By hiring a builder, you can simplify the insurance process considerably. Their coverage takes care of potential issues related to their work, lifting a significant burden off your shoulders. It's one less thing you have to worry about.
Click here to read all about owner builder insurance, it goes into great depth about builder's insurance.
Cons of Using a Builder to Lockup
Now that we've covered some advantages of hiring a professional builder, it's only fair to look at the other side of the coin.
While builders can bring much value to your project, there are also potential downsides to consider. Let's dive into some cons of using a builder to lockup.
Firstly, let's talk about the elephant in the room: cost.
Hiring a registered builder isn't cheap. These experts come with years of experience, skilled teams, and quality assurance, all of which come with a price tag. For those working on a tight budget, this additional cost might be a significant deterrent. It's one of the main reasons why people choose owner building.
It's necessary to weigh the potential benefits against the financial investment to decide whether it's worth it for your specific situation.
For the hands-on types who love being involved in every detail of their projects, hiring a builder could mean relinquishing some control.
As an owner builder, you're in the driver's seat. You get to make all the decisions, big and small, and see your vision come to life exactly as you imagined it.
When a builder steps in, they take over the reins, and while they'll certainly consult with you, they ultimately have the final say on how things are done.
Dependence on Builder's Schedule
Then there's the issue of scheduling. When you hire a builder, you're essentially tied to their timetable.
If they're juggling multiple projects or facing unexpected delays, your project could take longer than anticipated. This can be frustrating, especially if you're eager to move into your new home.
Potential for Disputes
Lastly, let's touch on the potential for disputes. When you're working closely with a builder, disagreements can sometimes arise over various aspects of the project, such as work quality, costs, or timelines.
These disputes cause stress and potentially delay the project further. It's important to have clear communication and a solid contract in place to mitigate the risk of disputes.
Builder Goes out of Business
Sadly, this has become quite a common occurrence in 2023. This is thanks to fixed contracts based on pre-Covid material costs and delays in materials which in turn caused long delays in build time during Covid.
It's a difficult situation to navigate as it's highly unlikely for a builder to comment on his business financial situation.
On the flip side, it's why builders are potentially seeing the value in working with owner builders!
We've covered a lot of ground in this discussion about the pros and cons of using a builder to lock up for an owner-builder project. As with any significant decision, there are various factors to consider, and it's important to weigh these carefully.
It's clear that using a builder to lock up isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It's about finding the right balance for your situation, budget, and personal preferences.
So, what's the next step?
Take a moment to reflect on all these points. Consider your own needs, resources, and vision for your project. After all, you're not just building a house; you're creating a home.
We developed a comprehensive resource that specifically addresses if owner building is for you, or not. Click here to learn more about what's covered in this resource.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my builder doesn't have insurance?
It's important to ensure that your builder has adequate insurance before they start work on your project. If they don't, you could be held liable for any damages or injuries that occur on-site. Don't be shy on this one, you must understand if a builder's insurance is up-to-date.
Can I supply my own materials to the builder to use?
Some builders are open to using materials supplied by the homeowner, but others may prefer to source their own. This is something you'll need to discuss with your builder before work begins. Also consider whether the builder will get a better price on materials.
What happens if I'm not happy with the quality of the builder's work?
If you're not satisfied with the quality of the builder's work, it's crucial to address this as soon as possible. That really goes with any trade working on your site. Communicate your concerns clearly and directly, and refer to your contract to see what remedies are available.