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Trades

As the Owner Builder and regardless of whether or not you purchase a Kit Home you will be the principle contractor managing all of the trades and labour hire for your building project. If you have never done this before then be aware that there is a whole new world out there when dealing with people in the construction industry. Unless you know how to manage yourself, your time and other people in an effective and efficient manner then you could be in for some challenges.

Here are some of the questions we often get from our UBuild Homes customers:

1. How do I know when to pay the trades?

Prior to any work being undertaken you must have some form of written contract or agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of the work being done. Assuming then that you have such an agreement in place (UBuild Homes customers are provided with all the systems, documentation and purchase orders to manage their trades effectively) you must inspect their work and make sure it is to your satisfaction, and more importantly meets the correct standard according to the Regulators known as the Building Standards Australia (BSA).

If you settle an account with a trade that has, unbeknown to you, carried out defective work it may come back to bite you in years to come when you decide to sell the home, and it does not comply or you did not obtain the right certificate from a qualified licensed trade. Paperwork is as important as Quality work.

If you are inexperienced in construction and you do not know correct construction from incorrect construction you must engage a professional to do these inspections for you. There are various professionals available at a fee for service, however once again if you are a client to a professional service provider like UBuild Homes you won’t have this issue, as they are there to help you with these activities. 

2. Is there a schedule of tolerances and allowance that will control quality?

Yes, in NSW you will find it at www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au

In Victoria go to www.buildingcommission.com.au

All states have a web site that set out any and all standards in relation to their adaption of the Australian Building Code.

3. Can I enforce the OFT tolerances and allowance?

Yes you can. If the trade in question does not abide by these tolerances you should call an officer from your state regulator or council building inspector and get further advice.

4. What happens when a trade does not turn up on time?

This is a common problem in the building industry.

Having the right education and training necessary for being an Owner Builder will help you to overcome any disappointment surrounding such a situation. UBuild Homes will train you to prepare for challenges like this and create contingency plans to still keep your building project on track.

Always communicate regularly with your trades – weeks out and days out to make sure that your work schedule is going to happen in accordance with the plan. However expect some delays. 

5. Do I have any recourse on the design engineer if I have a failure with the concrete slab?

Yes, providing you have had the slab inspected and certified according to the standards of the Building Standards Australia (BSA). A qualified professional will have professional indemnity insurance to cover structural failure.

6. Is it hard to obtain trades?

It can be very hard. If you are an Owner Builder not affiliated with any professional organisation, it can be very difficult to obtain trades. This predicament will continue to become more challenging with the skill shortage bite in busy areas like South East and North QLD, Western Australia, etc.

Well-established service providers for Owner Building services should have good quality trade and supply databases. These service providers will generally allow you access to these databases if you are a client of theirs. UBuild Homes have large databases of quality trades and these relevant databases are made available to all of their customers. 

7. How do I know if the trades I select are of good character and offer quality workmanship?

Up front you won’t know. But mainly you should seek out trades through word of mouth referrals from people you trust who have used that particular trade in the past. If you are going alone and using your own resources to find trades you will need to spend considerable time doing your homework on them. A lot of Owner Builders do not undertake this task properly and end up using people either unlicensed or of bad character. Then the trouble begins… punctuality, reliability, quality, and general scheduling goes out the window.

It is all too late if you have engaged the wrong trade and they commence work. Not only will your project suffer – you will too with high levels of stress! If you make the mistake of not having a professional contract between them and yourself it will become a ‘he said / she said’ situation in a Dispute Resolution Tribunal and eventually a no win situation for either party. Sadly, this is why we hear so often the common saying, “I will never do this again”.

Exactly the same scenario would take place if you went with a builder to finish the entire project for you and you did not do your homework on that builder.

There are many checkpoints you must cover before you engage a trade, for your safety and protection from possible litigation. UBuild Homes takes this issue seriously and have this covered on every work order.

8. Is it difficult to schedule the trades?

If you are not experienced it can be. Some Owner Builders have better management skill levels than others. Experienced or not, you still need to be educated on the nature and culture of the residential trades industry.

There are a number of ways to simplify scheduling trades. The reason some Owner Builders run into difficulties is their lack of understanding of this industry, as it is very different to many others. A lot of trades lack education themselves about self-management and business management and get involved in running a business with absolutely no business acumen. You are probably wondering how they manage to keep afloat with no business management skills. The answer is simple; this industry has a skills shortage and there is plenty of work out there. Plus as many fail, due to lack of business acumen, they simply start up again in another name/partnership/company. And in the meantime you may have had a terrible experience with that trade, they are out giving other unsuspecting Owner Builders the same poor service.