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Debunking the Myths around Owner Building and Kit Homes

Finding the Truth about Kit HomesOkay, it’s time to debunk some myths that are perpetuated by the Kit Home industry marketing hype that gets spun out by sales people. These myths are created solely for the purpose of making sales. No other reason. 

Myth No. 1: Owner Building is easy, anyone can do it.

This is a myth.

Think about it; a builder needs approximately 6+ years of combined on the job training and intensive study in order to obtain a licence to build a house under contract. If building a house was easy – why would this be the case?

Banks and finance companies shun Owner Builders like the plague. Why?

Consulting companies (private certifiers and drafting services, etc) and suppliers generally stiff Owner Builders with prices that reflect the degree of difficulty in providing the product or service. Wonder why they do this?

Because…

Owner Building is not easy. It can be very satisfying, successful and cost effective, but it is not easy. If you chat with an Owner Builder they will agree. They might be very proud of their achievement, but in the same breath they may also tell you they will never do it again!

Myth No. 2: Putting together a budget to build a house is pretty simple, anyone can do it.

This is a myth.

You will be told all manner of vague information, twisted tales and outright lies by salespeople who are determined to convince you that the cost of building a house is a straight forward excercise. It isn’t and you must understand that 80%+ of Owner Builder projects fail to get their financial budget accurately assessed before commencing. This is why lenders do not like Owner Builders.

Another twisted tale from the Kit Home industry is:

“It’s easy to work out a price; just take the cost of the kit and add 1.5 times to that price and that is your budget to build.”

What a crazy thing to say about something that has so many variables attached. But sadly it’s a tale that’s being told on a regular basis. 

Myth No. 3: Owner Building is the cheapest option of building a new home.

This is a myth.

Don’t get us wrong. Owner Building can be a very cost effective outcome and it can be the cheapest building option… but it depends on a number of variables.

Many people are desperate to save money, but the cost of materials and labour is extremely high and to many people these costs are well in excess of their perception. You cannot cost out a home based on perception. You must base it on realistic budget research.

Actually, the cheapest way to build a house is to find a basic brick veneer home built on a concrete slab through one of the large volume, project home builders.  It may not be the best quality home, but you will get a roof over your head, and you will almost never beat them on price.

If your sole purpose is to come up with the cheapest option then you have to expect the cheapest outcome. It can still be cheerful looking home and still be of reasonable quality – but you can’t redefine cheap; it is what it is.

What can you do about these myths? 

Be aware that anyone who is trying to sell you a kit home using one of these myths is a sales person – nothing more and nothing less. Once the sale is made their commitment to you is over. You still have to build the house and they certainly aren’t going to help you to do that.

If you are going to Owner Build, and we recommend that you seriously consider it – depending on your circumstances and your goals – then you must be seriously committed as the Project Manager/Principle Contractor (you don’t have to get your hands dirty if you don’t want to) and follow a professionally planned and systemised approach to building your home. If you cannot make this commitment then it is probably likely that you are not suited to Owner Building. 

Okay, myths aside, let’s talk about being a successful Owner Builder and why a first positive step towards successful Owner Building is buying a Kit Home Package.

A Kit Home Package is a cost effective way of getting a set of plans and specified material package to a fixed price, helping you in the overall management of your building project.

If you are going to buy a kit home it is assumed you are going to Owner Build. Why would you pay a kit home company to buy a bunch of materials and then pay a builder to build it? You might as well get the builder to purchase the same products at the same price under his contract.

Being a successful Owner Builder means three things:

  1. Your home is built on time. As measured against a realistic time frame to begin with. 
  2. Your home is built to budget. As measured against a realistic budget to begin with.
  3. Your home is built to a high level of quality. An experienced builder should be able to come to your home and applaud the quality of workmanship.

This is how success is measured. There are no other measurements.

UBuild Homes was created to ensure one thing: Successful Owner Builders. That is what we care about. Yes, we sell kit homes, but we also give people good advice rather than sales pitches. We are builders first and foremost and we are dedicated to providing people like you with honest, integrity based solutions, even if that means introducing you to a contract builder with no benefit to us.

But we can’t help unless we talk to you.

When considering Owner Building, please consider buying a kit home in order to give your project a greater chance of success. But more than that, please don’t get hooked into doing this based on a myth. Do some research, or even better why not talk to us on the phone and schedule a complimentary 2 hour consultation where we will spend that time educating you on how to be a successful owner builder.

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.

Ways to a Successful Kit Home Project

Anyone can Owner Build and the most effective way to Owner Build a house is by using the services of a Kit Home Company.

Ways to a successful Kit Home Project:

  • Research
  • Ask heaps of questions
  • Know what you want
  • Compare all the alternatives
  • Know exactly what is included (and excluded) with the Kit Home you choose.

You will save money if you are well planned, well managed, have good systems and are an active participant in the project management of your building project.

Owner Building is about flexibility and Kit Home Packages should always be flexible to meet the needs of each individual Owner Builder. There are multiple answers to many of the questions that need to be asked when building a Kit Home. The correct answers will vary depending on your circumstances, your location, your goals and your budget. We live in a fantastic country that gives you so many choices – which is great. But with that comes with the challenge of knowing how to make the right choices to ensure you have a successful outcome for your project.

At UBuild Homes you’ll find basic Kit Home Packages of $40,000 for extensions, right through to large Kit Home Packages of $400,000 for mansions. They are available in timber or steel, with flexible delivery schedules or as one delivery. You name it – and UBuild has been able to say “Yes, we can do that”. Take advantage of the UBuild Team’s experience, and give us a call, tell us where you’re at, what you want to achieve, how you want to manage your project, etc. We will only ever steer you in an alternative direction if there is a better, smarter or cheaper way of doing it without taking anything away from your style or the quality of your project outcome.