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How Star Ratings Affect Your Kit Home Design

Before building your dream home (whether it is a kit home or through a builder) you need to be sure it can be built according to your vision.

Building a home today is different to building a home a year ago, and vastly different to building a home 10 years ago. And it’s almost guaranteed to be different again 10 years from now!

Building Energy Efficient HomesPlanning and Building Approval now takes into account everything from zoning to energy efficiency, and water consumption to building code requirements. The process of achieving a permit now is more taxing. As a potential owner builder you must take note of what you want to achieve and if that requires special provisions.

You can’t just build your dream unless it conforms to the Government’s regulations with regard to Energy Efficiency. Owner Builders now must take great care to ensure a strong understanding of the Energy Efficiency requirements in their state before starting out on the design process.  
By now you have probably heard the term “Star Rating”. Star Ratings are now attached to all sorts of products, from appliances through to housing design. But what does it mean for you if you are considering an owner built kit home?

In simple terms the Star Rating System is a nationally recognised measurement of the energy rating of a particular product. This includes homes. The scale ranges from 1 star to 10 stars. 10 stars is the maximum number you can possibly achieve and to achieve this on a home is quite a challenge.
Different states have different regulations with respect to energy and water efficiency. At the time of writing this article NSW requires all new homes to have a minimum 3.5 Star Rating. To pass through council you only need to have a pass of 35%. In Queensland and Victoria you need to a 5 Star Rating or a pass of 50% to be able to build your dream home.
It is easier to achieve a Star Rating of between 5 and 7 during the design stage without too much extra construction costs being added to your budget. To achieve an even higher rating you can expect the cost of your construction to rise significantly. Every individual home design needs to be individually and independently assessed at the design stage. If it is not then alot of time and expense could very well be wasted. Don’t spend money you don’t have only to find out you are back to square one again.

UBuild Homes supports the design and construction of Energy Efficient Kit Homes by assisting Owner Builders in their quest for better environmental outcomes. UBuild can assist you through the design process to ensure compliance with all your planning requirements, including energy efficiency.

Owner Builders and Workers Compensation Facts

This article is by Simon Pascoe at FDBeck Insurance Brokers – A specialist competitive broker service helping Owner Builders with their insurance needs.  

Owner Builder Insurance PoliciesOwner Builder construction insurance policies do not include personal injury claims imposed by Workers Compensation Law. Therefore because you are the Principal Contractor the risk must be separately covered under a specific workers compensation policy issued through a nominated licensed insurer.

Many Owner Builders make the mistake of thinking that because they don’t directly employ anyone then they don’t need workers compensation insurance. Like all insurance and like all legislation imposed by Government the devil is in the detail. It’s important to note that a contractor engaged by you, as the Owner Builder, may be deemed to be a worker under certain provisions of various legislation. Therefore it is highly recommended that Owner Builders seek a simple, basic (or casual) workers’ compensation insurance policy. You need to remember: As the Owner Builder you are the Principal Contractor and as such the buck stops with you. Make sure you are covered.

A common example is where as an Owner Builder asks a family member or friend who is a carpenter to work for them on weekends whilst they are building their new home.  If the carpenter/family member or friend is employed by a propriety limited company during week days, then during this time they will be covered by their employers’ workers compensation policy. However their employers’ workers compensation policy will not extend to cover them whilst they are working for the Owner Builder on a direct basis and outside of their normal employment contract. In the event of a work injury on your site you will be liable for the workers compensation claim and will need to pay the damages.

Another example is when your contractor hires casual labour and then doesn’t insure them for workers compensation. Again as the Owner Builder you could be held jointly liable if there is an accident to that worker and you did not check with the contractor to ensure that sufficient cover was provided for that worker by the contractor.

The best protection is simply to make sure that you don’t leave yourself exposed as an Owner Builder. A  minimum premium workers compensation policy can be taken out very cost effectively. Even if you don’t employ or plan to employ any staff we still suggest that you purchase a minimum premium policy. Workers compensation varies depending on which Australian State you are located in, but in most cases you may only be talking about a few hundred dollars.

For your convenience there is a list of contacts for each Australian State at Owner Builder Insurance.