RSSArchive for January, 2009

Successful Building Project

“To Whom It May Concern,

When my wife and I decided to have a house built we were dismayed at the prices quoted. Labour and materials prices have soared alongside land prices in the Whitsundays, so we were reluctantly looking to downsize.

My father, a retired carpenter, lives near Port Macquarie and suggested we talk to Barry at UBuild Homes. We did and his facts and figures stacked up, with a saving of about 30 percent on our lowest builders quote, so we went ahead with UBuild and became Owner Builders.

The only problems we encountered during the eight month build were minor and easily solved and although distance complicated communications occasionally, Barry was always available for advice and sorting out deliveries, and for any other help that we needed.

The UBuild system, with its timelines and ordering processes made everything run incredibly smoothly as well as gaining better than trade discounts with some suppliers. Often suppliers (and tradesmen) are reluctant to get involved with Owner Builders, but our main local hardware supplier said to us that if all the local builders had such efficient order systems it would drop their workload by 25 per cent.

From the day we started work the tradesmen were also impressed, saying it was more
professionally managed than some of the major construction sites and we had extremely smooth and friendly relations with every team who worked on the house.

It has been a lot of hard work over the eight months, with me doing all the concreting and labouring and helping out with all the carpentry. Also it was difficult as my wife had to manage all the paperwork whilst we lived in a caravan on site. Although I still haven’t painted the eaves and put a final coat on the front doors we are living in a beautiful, modern, supremely comfortable home; thanks to Barry Armstrong and UBuild Homes.

We recommend UBuild Homes to anyone thinking of building a home. Even without experience in the trades, the UBuild system enables anyone with any management and organisational skills to save money on the cost of having a home built as well as gaining the immense satisfaction from the process.

Yours Sincerely,
Jeff Brown and Barbara Russell, Airlie Beach Qld”
October 2007

Owner Building Doesn’t Mean You’re on Your Own

The most common reaction we see when people have just experienced their first flutter of desire to Owner Build, is a droop of the shoulders and a shake of the head. They often give up before they even do a little research. The idea that so many ‘would be Owner Builders’ have is that building your own home must be very hard. And yes, it can be challenging – and even more so if you build it completely on your own.

Being an “Own”-er Builder doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own. There is so much information and expertise out there you can tap into. That’s the reason you go and chat to a builder. You want to use their skill, knowledge and experience. You see, it’s a smarter move not to look at yourself as an ‘Owner Builder’. You’re better off using others’ skills, and learning how to be a successful Project Manager.

At UBuild Homes we coach you as a Project Manager. And right up to ‘Lock Up Stage’ of your home we can also act as your Assistant Project Manager. So, in fact you are never on your own.

You’ll discover that Project Management is all about:

  • Planning,
  • Following Systems,
  • Allocation of Resources,
  • Budgets, and
  • Time Frames.

Most people have the skills to manage these key components – and that means ‘onwer build’. What they simply need to d it successfully is the entire process packaged in a box – and that’s what UBuild Homes can offer you.

Limitation of the Project Home Builder

“Why won’t the Project Home Builders help me?”

We hear this all the time. But just for a second put yourself in the Project Home Builders’ shoes.

Let’s use one example…

A top 10 Project Home Builder in South East Queensland probably builds approximately 400 homes per year. It’s like a manufacturing process or production line… they just keep pumping them out.

The minute you want to make a request like:

  • “I would like to put in my own kitchen please”
  • “I would like to use my own electrician and access the site during construction to upgrade my lights”
  • “I would like to move the bedroom and ensuite from the front of the house to the rear of the house”

You’ll be met with a resounding “No!”  “Sorry we dont do that.” etc.

Many people get upset about this. But consider the same scenario with a Car Manufacturer. Imagine if you asked: “I would like to modify the engine and gearbox of the car, using my mechanic and we would like to have access to the vehicle whilst it’s being built so that we can do this.”

Seriously, how many car manufacturers’ jaws would drop? All. And how many could say ‘yes’ to you? None!

Project Home Builders are discount home builders. They build good quality homes at good prices in specific Metropolitan areas where demand is high. If you do not fit into their box then don’t take it out on them. That is what they do well and they are entitled to determine what they do for a living.

Project Home Builders represent 70% of the market and as such can meet the needs of that market well. The rest of the market has to be met by Custom Builders (10% and the very top end of high quality and costly residential construction) and then Owner Builders at 20%. Why is it that 1 in 5 homes / renovations / extensions are conducted by an Owner Builder? It is the only guaranteed way of getting exactly what you want.

If you are seasoned and have a specific idea of what you want then don’t go to the project home builders. They don’t have the skill or the resources to tailor something to your needs. In fact they don’t want your business. If they do take it on then it’s because they don’t have enough work to keep them occupied and that is something that should worry you to begin with.

If you have no concern for your budget then talk to a custom (design and construct) home builder. These builders are craftsman and you will no doubt get a fantastic outcome, but you must be prepared to pay (and make sure you’re sitting when you get the tender estimate).

But don’t get down!

Owner Build it.

Yes you can Owner Build if you have the right system, support and people working with you every step of the way. We are constantly amazed at how some people said “No Way” to Owner Building, who then took on the project, completed it on time and within budget – and emerged so proud of their accomplishment. If you don’t fit into the Project Home Builders Box and want to take a really good look at the Owner Builder Solution then UBuild Homes can help you.

Land Choice for Building a House

When planning to buy a block of land to build that dream home or Kit Home there are some basics that you need to consider. These considerations are ones that will most probably impact your costs at construction more than anything else:

  1. Slope of the block relative to size and general site conditions. Novices always underestimate the slope of a block. Truth be known, it is easy to do. You see, the naked eye can be very decieving and often you will look at a site and say to yourself, “Doesn’t look that bad”. But you need to know that the more steep the site the more impact this will have on design and costs – particularly hidden costs. 
  2. Soil Quality. You will read a fair bit about soil tests, geotech reports and soil classifications on this site. The reason for this is, from an engineering and foundation perspective, the soil content is critical and will have an impact on construction of foundations and the costs associated with doing so. When you look at a block you will not know the quality of the soil and thereforel need specialists to conduct the necessary reports and tests.
  3. Know the Location of Services. Exactly where is the power, water, sewer and stormwater connections? This is critical information and the location of these services and the delivery method will impact on your costs. For example, let’s say you have found a fantastic 2 acre block in an outer suburb. You need to find out if the power is above or below ground. Is there a sewer system? If not you are going to need an Environmental HSTP (septic) system. The services list goes on, so do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask the land seller as many questions as you feel you need to. 
  4. Size of the Block. Beware the small, narrow lot that boasts a bargain price. Worse still, the small, narrow lot with some slope on it. Buy it, and you may discover later that it comes back to bite you when you have done your budget to build on it. Believe it or not, small and narrow is very expensive to build on. Occupational Health and Safety is now a legally compliant part of all residential construction sites – and the tighter the site, the more conditions that apply. These conditions come at a cost so give size some consideration when buying the block. 
  5. Driveway Access and Finished Ground Levels and Floor Levels. There are conditions relevant to the site about how steep a driveway can be in the distance between the boundary to the garage entrance. This is relevant to point no. 1 with the slope of the land. Some blocks simply cannot be cut and filled to suit a flat building pad. You may need to raise or lower the finished ground level to comply, and if this is extensive then expect it to impact on the finished design as well as cost.

Whether you are planning to Owner Build or Project Build always do solid research with an experienced builder before buying the block of land. UBuild Homes have professional experts that can assist you early in the process of selecting the right block to Owner Build your home or Kit Home. Why not contact us and find out how we can help you with end to end solutions.