The marketplace is cluttered with e’books and facts sheets about Owner Building.

Producing an article about owner building doesn’t make one an expert on the practice. We live in an age of ‘special effects’, where ‘tell and yell’ advice holds sway over substance.

Research[i] points to four key drivers why Owner Builders embark on the project of their lives:

  • To reduce the gap between the dream home (nice to have) and the affordable home (mortgage-driven):
  1. Foregoing the builder’s margin by maximising negotiating skills and leverage when purchasing materials;
  2. Saving money by controlling the project management;
  3. Shopping around for specials and being flexible to deliver cost savings.
  • To increase value and appeal of a home or property;
  1. Achieving better value on your project can mean a larger home;
  2. Better fittings/finishes or even landscaping features;
  3. Value can also mean a better family lifestyle.
  • To take greater control over the building process;
  1. Make changes to the project without paying hefty premiums;
  2. The decision-making process stays within owner builder control.
  • To maximise potential wealth creation within the home;
  1. The relationship between property value increase versus construction costs;
  2. As land prices increase, the relationship changes between the dwelling and the cost of land.

The social or soft aspects of owner building are just as important as the economic.

  1. How a family unit interacts, manages, and bonds throughout the project is imperative to success;
  2. Keeping the balance of relationships within a family, ‘pure’ throughout the project is important;
  3. Contractor/supplier relationships and building trust and respect will reflect in their quality of work;
  4. Negotiation and conflict resolution skills are vital;
  5. Preparedness for the realities of stress, injury, disappointment versus satisfaction, value, lifestyle;
  6. Keeping the community active during the building process;
  7. It’s not the tradie that brings quality to the building process; its project management that guarantees it.

10 Irrefutable Laws of Owner Building[ii] was developed as an element to the insurance underwriting risk management framework. The intent was to ‘systematically’ identify and then reduce risk to and/or the likelihood of its occurrence.

The underlying purpose was to ensure the insurance product performance (profitability) remains viable, but supporting, nurturing and focusing on improving safety and quality of the owner building segment is in everyone’s interest. The insurance industry, particularly underwriters and brokers, are in powerful positions to guide and assist owner builders as they strive to achieve their lifestyle dream safely and profitably, in other words, on-time and on-budget.

The 10 Irrefutable Laws of Owner Building are:

  1. Planning
  2. Quality checks
  3. Negotiating
  4. Risk mitigation
  5. Leadership
  6. Respect
  7. Intuition
  8. Energy
  9. Priority
  10. Self confidence

“I don’t know what I don’t know” is a common starting point for most owner builders. No doubt being conscious of any lack of knowledge is a great step forward, but not enough or ideal when so much is at risk. Owner builders who build their project plan around the 10 Irrefutable Laws of Owner Building will increase their awareness of the key elements required for a success project prior commencing site preparation works.

[i] Owner Builder Education Research (Qamvis Australia 2009)

[ii] Developed as a process which could systematically reduce the extent of exposure to a risk and/or the propensity of its occurrence during the building process. (Qamvis Australia 2011)