Being able to build your dream home from start to finish sounds absolutely incredible. Of course you know projects, especially construction projects, require a tremendous amount of work and organisational skills. So whether you want to build a simple home with 4 rooms and a bath or a 20 room mansion with a pool, there are a few things to consider before getting started.
Do thorough research:
Whoever said "knowledge is power" must have worked in the construction industry. It is one of the golden rules of owner-building. The more you know about all aspects of your project, the better it will turn out. The construction industry is almost as heavily regulated as finance, energy, healthcare and communications. Small scale construction such as homes, don't have quite as many regulations to deal with. However, there are various compliance codes and you'll need a building permit. Before attempting to build anything, do thorough research. Check with local and state authorities for a complete list and find out what is and isn't permitted in your area for example if you are considering building in NSW you would have to obtain a permit for the state.
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Set a budget:
Setting a budget requires breaking down all necessary parts of the construction process from getting the lot ready to laying the carpet and installing appliances. It's in this process, people determined to build their dream homes, most often fail. They blow out their budgets by allowing themselves to be talked into spending more than planned or didn't anticipate problems that might drive up cost. This takes us back once again to the "knowledge is power" phrase. A onetime owner-builder told me he had budgeted down to the last roofing tack but ended up $6,000 over budget because he had to have the plumbing done twice. The first plumber had done a poor job of it and as it turned out, wasn't even licensed. In other words, he got conned.
Know your tradesman:
To avoid being taken advantage of, use what you do know and ask questions when you don't. You might know a good carpenter or electrician but it's unlikely you know every type of tradesmen needed to build a house from start to finish. It's highly probable your friend, the electrician, will be able to recommend other quality tradesmen. But don't simply take the word of a friend. Remember, this is your dream house to be built and "knowledge is power." Spend a few minutes online reading customer reviews. Go check out their work yourself. Ask previous customers if they would use that tradesman or company again.
Use a large binder with pocket and scrapbook style pages. Put your checklist of things to be done at the front. You'll also want to keep all receipts, warranties and contracts related to your project in one place. Taking photos along the way and putting them in the binder is also a good idea. Storing all project pertinent information in one place enables you to track and schedule more easily. Plus, at the end of the process when your dream home is move-in ready, you have a nice keepsake for the bookshelf.
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The importance of safety:
Being an owner builder is not just about knowing how to build or design a home. One of the most important and mind boggling parts is learning and implementing all of the safety and legal requirements for example the requirement to provide a safe working environment in compliance with Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) standards. For example a building or construction zone must be properly fenced off from the public with some form of temporary fencing.
Many people will try to talk you out of building your own home. Some say it's just too hard or too time consuming. It certainly isn't for everybody. But if you're an organised person, driven to complete the project while staying in budget, you should be fine, not to mention proud of your accomplishment. Maybe consider partaking in a
course specifically designed to teach you the whole process of being an owner builder. If at the end you are still keen to go ahead at least you will know exactly what to do.