There are many advantages to being an owner-builder. A Tamlin prefabricated house package system, which focuses on the “shell” of the building, with the support you need to get to the lock-up stage of construction is very conducive to the owner-builder. However, there are many questions to ask yourself before you go the owner-builder route.
1. How Much Of The Work Am I Prepared To Do Myself?
You can just manage the job by being your own Project Manager and not do any of the labor. However, if you enjoy the building process you can do as much of the labor as you want. You will need to hire any licensed trades that your jurisdiction requires. This will normally be trades that have to pull a permit for the work they do, such as electricians and plumbers. Hiring other trades that both supply and install the product (drywallers, roofers, etc.) can be helpful and time-saving. Tamlin can help you sort out what to do yourself and what to hire people for.
2. Do I Have The Time To Do This?
Building a home can consume hundreds of hours of your time, and will really vary depending on the scale of the project, your use of subtrades, and your experience. Some clients prefer to just manage the trades while others fully participate in construction tasks. You need to ask yourself if you have the time (depending on your work commitments or if you are retired), and when you want to move into your home. One of our clients changed their work hours to work four ten-hour days and then have a four day weekend to work on their home. Other clients have taken time off work, scheduled certain tasks around their time off in the summer, or waited until they retired to have the time to build their own homes. Everyone’s situation is different and you will know best how to work a house build into your life.
3. How Much Will I Really Save?
You will need to consider what your time is worth. Are you in a job, for example, where you could make more money continuing to work and paying a general contractor than you would save as an owner-builder? You also need to take into consideration the cost to live while you are building and factor that into your cost. Some of our owner-builders have lived in trailers on-site to save time and money while building their home others have rented property within very close proximity of the site. Owner-builders who have done their research and decided that they want to build will save money, how much will depend on each individual build.
4. Will My Financial Institution Allow Me To Build My Own Home?
If you are financing the build through a bank or other lending institution you will need to check with them to see if their loan criteria require that you have a licensed general contractor build your home. They may allow you to build your own home but may have requirements that are different from a regular build with a general contractor. Each financial institution in Canada and the USA is a little different in its requirements for building loans.
5. What Insurances Do I Need To Have In Place Before I Build?
Normally you would need to take out a COC (course of construction) insurance policy, which stays in place from the time you start the foundation until occupancy when you would then get normal homeowners insurance. There may be other insurances required by the area in which you are building or your financial institution and you need to check all these out prior to starting your build. Also, it will be your responsibility to make sure that any trades you hire have the appropriate workers’ compensation and commercial insurance required by your area.
6. What About Permits?
You will need to get regular permits and inspections from your building department. Tamlin will take care of all of the permit plans, but it is a good idea for you to be proactive and see if anything is required by the permit department from you as an owner-builder. For example, in British Columbia Canada there is a 2-5-10 government home warranty program in place. So as an owner builder you need to register and take and pass a proficiency test prior to being issued a building permit. For our BC clients considering this option, you should take a look at www.ownerbuildertraining.com which offers a two-day intensive course to help prepare for this test.
7. This Sounds Like Something I Might Like To Do But Is There Anyone I Can Speak With To Get More Information?
Yes, you can talk to any of our marketing team here at Tamlin who can discuss the pros and cons of being an owner-builder with you. Also, some of our owner-builders are happy to talk to you about their experiences and we can put you in touch with them. We have owner-builders in both Canada and the USA so we would put you in touch with someone as close to your location as possible.
Note: Photos are of 5 different owner built homes in both Canada and the USA.
If you would like to learn more about being an owner-builder, please contact us.