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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:43 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:55 pm
Posts: 19
Hi,

What can I and can't I do as an owner builder? After researching several materials and obtaining pricing guides most of the suppliers are saying they need to be installed by licenced tradesman with comments like "we'll build it to lock-up" and heavy quotations to match. While the manufacturers throw in words like 'DIY' and 'easy to install' when promoting the products.

Since the whole point is to avoid costly labour charges by the professionals (particularly when building in a remote area, such as us) I have been researching alot about more easily installed materials that can be done by someone with a bit of experience and alot of common-sense and endless enthusiasm. I'm getting a little put-off by what I've found out so far, and would love to hear the 'truth of the matter' by someone who has come across this before.

shayne


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 Post subject: Do it yourself
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 1:04 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Heidelberg, Melbourne Australia
Shayne,
Even bicycles that come in boxes 90 per cent assembled have printed on the box that you should get a qualified bicycle mechanic to assemble the last 10 per cent (ie. bolt on the wheels, pedals, seat and handlebars.) Most of this can be put down to public liability issues... ie. manufacturers covering their own backsides (and appeasing nervous insurers) in case the odd idiot puts the wheels on but forgets to tighten the nuts.
You don't say where you're located... and laws vary slightly from state to state in terms of registration requirements. Victoria has just made it compulsory to register as an owner builder... but once you've met those requirements you can do most things with the exception of electrical connections and some plumbing duties... like roofing.
Generally I'd recommend leaving the electrical and plumbing to experts, but anything related to building, bricking, painting, plastering, tiling and such trades you can have a go at.
We sub-contracted qualified builders to put up our frame, and to pitch our roof. We laid all our own mud bricks, brought in plasterers to hang the 6-metre high ceiling plaster, but did all the walls ourselves... etc. etc. It's common sense, as you said. I wouldn't lay bricks past a certain height for instance, and I was happy to know all the major structural stuff was done by experts. It depends very much on the individual and their skill sets/confidence.
For instance I'd rather pay someone $300 to concrete my patio, because I know it's hard to "make it up as you go along" when you've got $1000 worth of concrete going off quickly. But most things are do-able.
From a legal point of view your building inspector will tell you what work you need "certificates" for... such as electrical and plumbing. In Victoria you're no longer tied to Council building departments and can seek out your own building surveyor... perhaps one who's experienced with owner building and knows how all that works.
The trick to getting things done at the right price is getting three quotes. Then deciding whether it's worth doing yourself. You also need to develop a sixth sense for "how" to go about various jobs. There's often more than one way to skin a cat.

For instance I just had to remove 6 cubic metres of dirt left over after a stormwater overhaul. A cost and hassle I hadn't budgeted for.
A 6-cubic-metre "skip" was going to cost $300 plus $50 for a permit and I was going to have to shovel and barrow the mountain of dirt into the skip myself.
I looked up bobcat operators in the yellow pages and the first quote was "$500 plus tipping fees". Next guy said $350 and no tipping fees.
The third guy said $250 and no tipping fees. He turned up with his big truck and bobcat, did a beautiful job, plus a couple of other fiddly earthmoving things we thought of while he was there to tidy up our yard, and was gone in 90 minutes.

Sometimes it can be false economy to try and do everything yourself. For instance you can try running electrical wires yourself, but then have to find a qualified guy out of the phone book who's prepared to "sign off" on it for the Inspector of Electrical Safety. Easier to get the whole job done in that case by an electrician.
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress,
Murray Johnson
www.byohouse.com.au


Last edited by MurrayJohnson on Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:43 am
Posts: 310
Location: Perth, Western Australia
shayne wrote:
After researching several materials and obtaining pricing guides most of the suppliers are saying they need to be installed by licenced tradesman with comments like "we'll build it to lock-up" and heavy quotations to match. While the manufacturers throw in words like 'DIY' and 'easy to install' when promoting the products.


If the manufacturer says a product is DIY and the local supplier insists on installation, then your best bet might be to talk to the manufacturer. They might be able to suggest an alternative supplier, or supply direct to you.

_________________
------------------------------
Bruce
Draftie


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 Post subject: thanks for the tips
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:55 pm
Posts: 19
..i'll be sure to make sure i'm persistant about quotes. i think it's a valuable lesson to get a sense of value for what you're doing. i'm building in nsw, cessnock council to be precise. personally i think laying bricks would not be my thing and i applaud your effort - i suppose from my perspective it's running the wires (not wiring to the mains or other live sources), or putting together 'jigsaws' that i CAN do, and since there are many things i can't do i want to save money where i can. i've seen a couple of hints (from my reading) of where working this stuff out before you start can mean all the difference between completely wasting your time and money for the sake of hoping to save less than half that. so i suppose i just need to make sure if i plan to wire it (for example) i have a sparky check the design (since this i can manage) and confirm they will inspect my installation (which i can also manage) and sign off - before i even start.

And I might start contacting the manufacturers and tell them i'm an owner builder up front, and will they supply direct to me or suggest someone who will. from a point of view of being 'qualified' - i'm not 'qualified' at anything - yet i have acheived plenty, so this doesn't wash with me. i'm happy to pay someone for a quick intro, a check that i'm doing it right and a final inspection at the end in order to get it done with my own labour efforts. i see that a cost like that is well worth it.


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