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April 01, 2009 | | Comments 3

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.

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  1. I agree with you about the kithomes. Recently they ran a story on Todaytonight about kit homes such as askhomes etc and I really thought the story they did was a joke. I am not critisizing askhomes as I like their homes, I am talking about the way Today Tonight presented their story. They were saying how “cheap” the kit homes were and that they were a bargain. What about each of the contractors wages you are going to have to pay for? I found it odd that they didn’t mention that. By the time you pay all the contractors that “super cheap” bargain home will no longer be so cheap. I think if you are going to be an owner builder, you must realise that the cost of building your home (contractors wages) is a large part of the cost as well, not just the materials.

  2. i would like to know how much more would i be likely be charged after buying my kit home and having it built. For example if the home was $60,000, how much more roughly to have the home up and ready to live in? Would it be double this amount?

  3. Hello Michael, thank you for your questions.

    One of the most difficult questions to answer when owner building a kit home and also the reason we get a bit ‘hot under the collar’ when kit home companies get carried away with “easy estimates” of how much the total construction will cost.

    There are just too many variables to be able to say “double” or “one and a half times the cost of the kit” will equal the total cost of construction. What you need to do is work from the other direction when budgeting.

    1. Have your finance in order and approved before commencing and make sure your finance provider knows that you are planning on owner building a kit home. Because once you say that then the rules will change. If you get stuck then we have solutions for you.

    2. Once you have your total budget for your costs of construction you will need to sit with a builder (not a salesperson) who can assess your land and your design of choice and give you a fair and reasonable estimate of your costs. Then you can start working in either direction to meet your budget. Later, once the costs are broken down and itemised you can then determine specific savings.

    As much as I would love to give you a definitive answer I really don’t want to fall into the trap of all the other “salesmen” out there. I have been building homes for over 40 years and my experience tells me that every building project is different and every block of land has different challenges. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to squeeze a deposit out of you without telling you the facts.

    All the best,
    Barry

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