View Full Version : Owner builder contractor blues

Wild Dingo
06-25-2007, 05:01 PM
Not really... well just a little maybe

So we are about to begin the journey of being owner builders of our new home out the back of this one... should and will make it somewhat easier to keep tabs on everything if either Jo or I are onsite every day.

We are within days of ordering the plans to submit to the Shire for planning approval and the water authority for their approval once thats done we can submit them to the Shires building section for their approval after which time we can actually order the bloody house... we are in the southwest of Western Australia and the house is being ordered from Victoria over on the east coast...

Time lines are a bit iffy but go sorta like this...

1) Find a design we like
2) Find a design we like that the company will send across Aussie to us... or settle for a steel house not quite what we want at a more expensive price from a mob here
3) get the house pad sorted while making the changes to the design we want... lot of back an forth by emails and phone calls
4) check the relevant authorities requirements and applications
5) get the trees down tests done and flood level survey done (We are presently almost finished this point)
6) order house plans... put in applications
7) submit plans to Shire planning authority (2 - 4 weeks) and water authority (10 - 14 days)
8) Subject to above approvals get electrician and plumber quotes
9) subject to 7 above order building to be made up (6-8 weeks)
10) house arrives on back of semi trailers (6 days)
11) start building to lockup (8- 12 weeks)
12) start finding the things we need that we will be doing (walls ceilings cupboards flooring internal doors etc
13) Start internals however heck long we take! and availability of the electrician/plumber and other trades contractors we will and might need.

So far its been pretty good weve made all the changes she wants and have had very few problems our one issue so far has been contractors and contracts

We found one bloke that was prepared to come and do the job of erecting it to lockup for 2200 per day... no friggin way! so we found another at 40000 for the complete job to lockup... okay thats good 10000 below budget and we checked him out and found he had been an erector of these houses back in Victoria until 3 months ago when he moved to WA so knew what he was doing... real friendly nice bloke typical chippie of the old handshake school or so we thought...

A few days after we settled on that and he had assured us that yes it was to total lockup he rings back "oh just thought Id let you know lockup doesnt include the roof" number one issue right there! :mad: so I let loose ripped into him so that he now has some extra holes hes pharting out of "oooh yeah okay mate look I'll check with the mob over east and get back to you" "You bloody do that" this incited a major phone to and froing from him the manufacturer and myself along with checks with different authorities here

A day later he rings back "haha my mistake mate that price does include the roof" TOO BLOODY RIGHT IT DOES! How the hell he could think building a house to lockup means no friggin roof is beyond me lock up is locked friggin up!...

Then during conversations with him he offers to come do the levels and to see the block for the cost of a barbie... no worries says I thinking it would be a great idea as he and his 2 offsiders will be here for the duration of the build... then this morning Im sittin on the crapper and I get a call from him "ohh look Shane mate that trip down to do the levels?" "yeah? Sunday wasnt it?" "yeah thats right but look mate Im gonna have to get paid for that dont know if I told you that or not but its not my usual work and if Im gonna do it and spend a day there then I want to be paid" "Yeah you will be with a bloody barbie as you agreed!" "no mate I'll want a days pay for it" "mmm how much?" "$400 for the day" "yeah well..." at that point I let all the dogs of angst loose I mean I was in the crapper!! ending with... "The missus aint here till later tonight so I'll have a talk with her but I tell you what this shyte happens again I'll tell the lot of you to screw it and get a kit home from here in bloody Perth and be done I dont need this sort of crap you set a price twice now first up to ring back and say bloody lockup isnt with a friggin roof now you ring back and say you want to be paid 400 instead of the agreed barbie? I dont need this sort of crap okay! I can get another bloke to do the damned build AND the levels if this is the way your going to be alright? ... I'll get back to you by Friday" "no no hahaha no she's right mate but I gotta get paid you can understand that right?" "NO I bloody dont you agreed to do it for the price of a barbie YOU were the one who said that" and so on and so forth for an hour till me bum was sore from sittin there all that time :rolleyes: ... finally I said "look mate I'll get back to you alright but Im not bloody happy and neithers she going to be so we will see"

Its not the 400 that bothers us its the second "cost plus" thing hes tried on first the 10000 extra for the roof which HAS to be on and is included in lockup stage here and now this... I reckon he thinks "ah a greenass lets see what extras he will fall for" and tries it on the roof didnt work and this wont either :mad: I actually do have another bloke with the knowhow and equipment to do the levels who is happy to come down and do it without cost just getting the time is a bit of an issue for him but he can usually be tempted with a promise of a barbie and a few coldies.

oh it was decided right at the very start that we wouldnt do the erection part this part has to be done dead right or the whole thing goes to crap in a handbasket fast so get someone in to do it properly first time and be done... theres going to be acres of stuff for us to do inside the house

So after that I went searching for templates of contracts we can use to lock the contractors in with... I physically went to different govt authority offices here no go uhuh nothing like that... on the net to West Aussie sites uhuh not here nothing like that... made a shyteload of phone calls uhuh nope nothing like that here try... bloh blah blah

And information? SHYTE!!! your phissin fair into the wind over here if you want bloody information as an owner builder! NO ONE TELLS YOU ZIP!! However having sourced a couple of reams of paper worth of pdf files from various depts off the net Ive got a fairly good idea that were on the right track

The actual company were getting the house made by is as I said in Victoria which has different rules and guidelines they work from than we here in the west work from (other than the Aussie standards) so asking them for anything is a waste of bloody time... we are the second house of theirs to be ordered from West Aussie the other bloke wont agree to have contact and the company wont release his info per the FOI laws from what theyre telling me his house was less than half the size of ours built on a pad and is located way the buggary a days drive away... but no probs its his choice if he wants people to come yarn with him or not but it would have been good.

The place were getting is 340sq mtrs inside the 2 story house proper and 180sq mtrs of verandahs all round up on stumps at around 2.7mtrs of the ground (to allow for flood waters to pass under instead of through) the company has been brilliant as far as the changes weve wanted the price has actually gone down rather than up!! but will end up at around $160000 finished and delivered (depending on the stumps/engineering part) so built to lockup should be $190000... then the other costs kick the shyte outta us!! :rolleyes: BUT!! all thiings going smoothly or reasonably so the house should be standing out the back by Christmas... hopefully

Wont be able to live in it then cause the internals will be getting done but it will be there! :cool:

AND!! Young Aaron comes home on Saturday!!... well its good from my point of view Ive missed my main man something shocking and if the magistrate says "12 months good behaviour bond and must live with your parents for the duration" instead of "take him down officer" then well come on home sonshine!! :cool:

06-25-2007, 06:14 PM
Shane, would it be practical to advertise locally for labour only chippies to submit a price to erect your house? You could ask for references and view their work. You would need the foundation details before they could give a price for that of course.
Did you get the emails I sent?

Wild Dingo
06-25-2007, 08:45 PM
Didnt I get back to you Grant?? BLOODY HELL!!! Sorry about that mate :o Damn sometimes I need my friggin head red eh :rolleyes:

Yes thank you very much!! Just what was needed... I will zap you the measurements once theyre in hopefully this weekend depending on when I can get someone with a thingy to turn up to do the levels that is :rolleyes:

But geez mate sorry about that

Actually we have most of the tradies lined up already its just waitin on plans and the others have all stated that it will be an all in price they will quote... no surprises in other words.

This bloke is apparently very good but is new at working with owner builders as the company would just give him a job he would have already quoted on and that was it... I do think hes got the idea he can try it on and make some extra and hes got a surprise coming

Ive had a yarn with the other bloke this morning already and weve organized him to come down on the weekend and it should go ahead this time... Im in his diary!! :D so the other blokes done himself out of that part now I need to tie him in with a contract if I can nail down a template of some sort or other that covers everything

06-26-2007, 02:04 AM
The cheapest way you will get your house built is by finding someone who is good at what he does and pay him an hourly rate. In that scenario you are only paying for what is done. The obvious shortcoming of that route is that you dont know what the total will be, as soon as you are into tying your chippie down, he will have to put a buffer in his price to cover the unexpected things that always crop up in a job of any size, and leave himself with a margin.
If it is in your nature to fly off the handle when something comes up, however unreasonable it is, you are going to have a hard time getting your house built. Good people managers tend to be the ultimate diplomats.

In the days when I did labour only contracting a typical payment schedule would be something like this: !st payment when floor is down, 2nd payment when roof is on (If I was doing the roof);3rd payment when house is closed in; 4th payment when lining and trim is done and then a last payment when finished. The head contractor would keep 10% retention for one month after finish as a guarantee that the chippies would return to do any little tidy up things that may crop up.
That was how it was when I contracted to a housing company doing relatively small houses.

The best ones for the owner and myself were done on a handshake, Communication is all important, I have known technically competent chippies who left dissatisfied customers at the end of the job because they werent good communicators.

I also have to say that owners as the head contractors are often a PIA, they want to be involved in everything instead of letting the pros get on with the job. If they knew so much about it why couldnt they build the bloody thing themselves?
Often they have management experience but know bugger all about building so are always asking the chippie to update them as to where it is at. A labour only chippie is only there to do the physical work of getting the house built.

If the chippie you are thinking of using is already trying it on with you I would have a serious think about whether you can trust him to deliver on what he promises, Are there any commercial lawyers in your nearest town? they should have some experience of building contracts.

Can you ask around your social circle and neighbours who they might recommend?

I'm sure the company you are buying the house from would have a typical contract for its erectors. have you asked them?

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject,

Good luck!

06-26-2007, 02:57 AM
Shane, What company? and is the house a pre-fab or transportable? Send me an email. As for the contractor it sounds like he's winging it at present! Read everything very carefully.

06-26-2007, 06:24 AM
You really do like to do things bass ackwards there don't you?
You clear the land and contract a builder, and you don't even have plans, much less govt. permits?
Son....For a reasonable fee, I'll come down there and run the show for you, but you'll have to stay at least 2 miles away, with no phone access the entire time.....Deal? ;)

Wild Dingo
06-26-2007, 08:40 AM
Cheers Grant thats about what were thinking

Doug... mate I have no real clear picture of what Im doing or what HAS to be done!! Ive a) never done anything like this before b) am struggling to find help to get the order of things nailed down

HOWEVER having said that... we believe were on the right track.

Down here at least from what I know... one CANNOT submit anything to the PLANNING department of your local without having ALL the dots dotted and all the ts crossed... THEN you go ahead and get the other stuff done to be able to submit to the BUILDING department of the local shire... the trouble here is that some of the things with this house wont be signed off on unless we get the requirements that the company in another state requires

From what I know... We are going along the right path not rushing and getting everything lined up AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE before we commit to contracts and the associated costs... For an example we cannot get a quote from an electrician UNTIL we have the plans same for the plumber but we cannot get the plans UNTIL the things that THEY require which our shire doesnt are done... THEN and only then can we submit them to the PLANNING department and the water authority for approval... ONLY when the plans for planning approval can we THEN get the other quotes in because we will have the plans... thus our final all up costs are a bit iffy because we as yet cant get them

So doing as we have done we can now get a surveyor in to get a contour plan down a base datum point and a height survey these for the engineer over east... and we can also get a soil test done again for the engineer over east... neither is required for the shire here... simply put they ONLY require the height to be 1mtr above the flood level BASED ON the mud level on the side of the existing house as there is NOTHING else available to go from... but the engineers in Victoria need it or they wont sign of on the house so we must get it.

Its a process of elimination I think lining the things up in a row and systematically doing them... so at the end of the day the lot is done handballed to Victoria and then the plans done and everything handballed back to us to take to the planning and water to get approval to take to the next step... then we set all the things up in a row and go again till finally the plans are officially as the house will be built with power water heating etc all drawn up and ready then everything is bundled again and taken back to the shire for building approval and once given building can begin... or in this case the house can be ordered from Victoria once it arrives on site it can be erected.

Sorry if that sounds wrong but thats the way its been given to me by those who Ive spoken with and the sites Ive visited.

Seems convoluted but thats the way it seems to be here... Ive just been handed a link to the HIA site with the contracts!! THANK YOU PIRATE!! :cool: thing is I only spoke about contracts with those bloody idiots on Thursday and got the flat "we dont have anything like that try..." thing :mad:

Jeff... no worries will zap you an email... oops Jeff how about you zap me an email and I will respond and thus regain your email address which seems to have dropped out of the address book with time change of computer etc :o

Cheers all

06-26-2007, 10:00 AM
Sounds very wrong to me....But what do I know?

06-26-2007, 10:04 AM
Dingo - I have every confidence in you. So you've never done this before! That's probably never stopped you from most of what you've done in your life.

Have ya read your signature line yet today, Dingo?

One step at a time. It's gonna be absoflaminlutely awesome! :eek: ;) :D