September 07, 2009 | | Comments 3

Trust No One!

Hi there, this is Barry from UBuild Homes and in case you didnt catch the title I’ll say it again: Trust No One!

If you are planning on building a home then you need to take extreme care. As an Owner Builder you must take precautionary steps to manage your risks.

Learn About the Building IndustryMy intent is not to bag the construction industry, and as someone who has operated in the insdustry for over 40 years as a licensed builder, I think I can talk with experience. Putting trust in unprofessional people in the residential construction industry can hurt. In addition, these are difficult times which puts added pressure on the builders and trades who are out there quoting for work – many doing so without systems or proper training.

The problem is: it is so difficult to differentiate between professional and unprofessional conduct.

I’m not talking about dishonest people. There are plenty of those types in every industry and we all need to guard against the sharks out there. What I’m talking now is dealing with trades and builders who simply don’t use good, professional systems to quote, and who then create a disastrous outcome for you as a result.

Unfortunately, this happens too many times. The general public puts their faith in so called industry experts only to find their hard earned cash vanish into thin air. Please allow me to share a recent example:

A couple that came to UBuild Homes recently were very distraught. From the outset this couple had no intention of Owner Building. They had engaged a builder to do a quote for them to build their home. They accepted the quote. Unfortunately, the quote lacked detail and was poorly put together. The couple trusted the builder and thought he knew what he was doing. Just prior to signing the contract the couple made some changes to the plan. Nothing too dramatic – but then the builder used this opportunity as an excuse to lift the contract amount by as much as 100k. In other words he exposed his unprofessional conduct. It was very obvious the builder under quoted the job in the first place and so waited for the right opportunity to adjust the pricing in his favour!

Now, legally he is within his right to do this. But morally it is wrong. And unfortunately, happens all too often – and not just on large projects but small ones too. Owner Builders often recount similar stories of conflicts with a variety of trades because of the exact same process.

In the end the couple had to walk away from the builder. Due to the cost blow out and the resulting bad experience they then turned to Owner Building and today they are now UBuild Homes’ customers and moving forward.

The same couple also had a very poor outcome with their drafting service. Again the reason was trust. They simply assumed that the drafting service would be professional and knowledgable about the planning requirements. They were not, and this resulted in further costs and anguish.

Now let me say this: Neither the builder or the drafting service provider in question are bad people or what you would call ‘shonky’. They were just unprofessional due to a lack of skill, training and experience. This is what commonly happens in the building industry and it creates problems for customers.

It’s vital that if you are building a house through a builder, or are planning to owner build, you get educated. Don’t fall into the trap of trusting that others will always do the right thing. Learn to spot the difference between professional and unprofessional behaviour. Be vigilant, check everything, question everything. This knowledge and questioning might just be one of the biggest investments you will ever make!

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. However, as “novices” in the field of building most people who are building don’t know how to differentiate between those builders who “know their business” and those who only look like they do. Do you have any tips?

  2. Hi Terry, thank you for your comment. I will break the response into two parts:

    Part 1: How do you differentiate between those builders and trades who know their stuff and those who don’t? Well, unless you have been personally referred to them then you don’t. And remember that they are only as good as their last job. The key is knowledge and systems. You need both to take you from novice to equal. If you don’t gain the knowledge and have a system to support you in your project then you are at risk, and on that basis you should have an expert in your corner.

    Part 2: Tips for successful owner building:
    Ask lots of questions – really, really hard questions of everyone you deal with. Probe them for detail.
    Do courses, read and educate yourself.
    Have a system. Then use that system always!
    Use high quality documentation and ensure all suppliers and trades read, understand and agree to the documentation.
    Never sign a contract unless you are completely 100% comfortable with the terms.
    If in doubt use a service provider like UBuild Homes. It’s what we do for our customers that makes the difference between success and failure.

    All the best,

  3. I couldn’t agree more (too). I learned the hard way! Thanks for the valuable tips Barry. Cheers, Ted.

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